To Build A Home | Nathan Prescott X Reader
The only reason you ever attended Blackwell Academy was to gain an edge on the art world, to improve your Photography, and make something of yourself. When you shared your umbrella with Nathan Prescott that fateful night, you didn't expect to start seeing him everywhere, captivating you with his mere presence. He's nothing like the man you were warned of. Perhaps that's what draws you in, keeps you there until you're hopelessly falling in love with him. You wouldn't have it any other way.
"What the fuck are you giving me that doe-eyed look for, huh? Get the fuck away from me." Ah. You recognize who that is now.
Word Count: 23,000 :')
Cross Posted Here on AO3
Warnings: Swearing, slight (implied) NSFW, brief gun usage. Mainly a lot of pointless fluff~
Tiny note here; in no way am I excusing Nathan's behavior in the original game, this is just my take on how I wanted his story to turn out :)
Primarily gender-neutral! reader, but the reader does reside in the girl's dorm. Just pretend that the dormitory was over capacity and you got shoved in there.
Sneaking out has never really been your thing. You had no urge to do it while living with your parents, and when you arrived at Blackwell, you were confident that you were not going to be one of those students who snuck out of the dorms every night.
Yet here you are, crouched behind a shrub, heart hammering in your chest as you wait for the Blackwell security officer to continue on his merry way. You hadn't planned this out. Despite it being the first week of class, you were loaded with homework. Initially, you had planned to spread it out over the weekend, a little science here, a little photography there.
What you hadn't been expecting was just how quiet the dorms would become after the Vortex Club Party began, and naturally, you had taken advantage of it and crammed all of your homework into one night. But, unfortunately, that also meant that you wouldn't finish until two in the morning, and you were desperate to stretch your legs.
For what feels like years, the security officer stands there. Shines his flashlight back and forth. Pauses. Shines again. Your heart stops every time he does it. Finally, his radio beeps, and then he's on his way out. As soon as he's out of sight, you feel a frigid drop of water hit your cheek.
You're not ready to go back inside, not after what you went through to get out in the first place. There's an umbrella in the back of your car. You didn't plan to go that far, but you're already beginning the trek to the parking lot.
You get to your car just as the rain becomes coming down in sheets, and it's barely been a few minutes, but it feels as if the temperature has dropped a couple of degrees already. Resting the open umbrella against your shoulder, you take your time walking around, feet slow, eyes glazed, as you find yourself lost in whimsical thoughts about romantic sneak-outs with an imaginary man.
Under the old Oak tree, you make eye contact with someone. You jump, barely stifling a yelp of fear from escaping your mouth.
"What the fuck are you giving me that doe-eyed look for, huh? Get the fuck away from me." Ah. You recognize who that is now.
Drawing closer, you can see him haphazardly leaning against the tree, his shoulders and hair wet with rainwater, unruly strands already beginning to stick out every which way. He reminds you of a wet cat, sulking in a corner and hissing threats at anyone who dared look in his direction.
"Are you just gonna keep staring at me, nerd?" He stands up straight, takes a few steps towards you, forcing you to tilt your head to meet his eye. If you didn't know any better, you would think that he's doing this to look bigger, more intimidating.
It's not working.
"I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you through the rain," the words tumble off your lips too casually, too friendly to be your first words to the infamous Prescott. "Are you waiting for the rain to slow down? I can share my umbrella if you'd like."
You've been warned by your new friends to stay away from him. They told you that he's dangerous, unhinged, but you would like to make that judgment for yourself.
To no surprise, he scoffs, striding out from under the tree and into the pouring rain, "I don't need your charity, whore."
The timing is almost comedic. Nathan doesn't make it more than a few steps ahead of you before chunks of hail begin pelting down from the sky, one nailing him right on the top of the head. You can't help but laugh as a string of curses leave his mouth, arms bracing themselves above his head to protect himself from another hit.
You take the opportunity to sidle up next to him, extending the umbrella out to protect him from the unruly balls of ice. Nathan glares at you, but he doesn't make a move to step out from under it.
"Holy shit, what the fuck do you want from me?" He snips, and while he sounds livid, he follows along as you begin walking. Odd.
"Nothing," you say, honestly.
Nathan is quiet for a few strides, shaking the water out of his wet hair and grumbling something incoherent. "That's what they all say when they first show up," the remark falls off of his lips so casually that it stings a little bit.
The storm around you picks up, the wind blowing hard against your umbrella, quite nearly ripping it from your grip. You struggle to hold onto it. It's your only umbrella, and you're fucked if you lose it this fast. "Prescott or not, I'm just trying to be nice." You're not sure why you're telling him this, but you are, "Nobody likes to walk alone in the freezing rain."
Nathan doesn't say anything else, and you're okay with that. However, you're quick to notice that he's making an effort to match your stride, a little bit ahead of you but not far enough to get out from under the umbrella. You're near the entrance to the dorms when a strong gust of wind picks up, and with a loud pop, the upper portion of your umbrella breaks off.
What the fuck.
"What the fuck." You're so stunned that you've quit walking, the umbrella handle still clenched tightly in your hands.
Beside you, Nathan has stopped, watching as your umbrella flies up and becomes lodged in a tree. "That's what you get for getting an umbrella at Walmart," he chides, and with that said, he jogs up the stairs and disappears into the dorms.
So much for that.
Defeated, you shuffle back inside, ready for a warm shower and some new, much dryer clothes. Small pieces of hail pelt you as you walk up the front steps, and you vaguely hope that your poor car won't receive any dents from it. One would think that an Academy as prestigious as Blackwell would have a parking garage for its small student body. But, alas, you share a lot with the Blackwell staff.
It rains doesn't cease, encasing Blackwell in a non-stop drizzle of freezing rain. Unless you're paying a visit to the showers or the vending machines, you don't leave your dorm. You check your social media a couple of times, half expecting to find some petty remark regarding what happened, but you find nothing.
Through your window, you can see your umbrella still lodged in the tree, taunting you. If objects could speak, there is no doubt in your mind that it would be making crude remarks and giving you hell. You find yourself watching it, glaring at it, wishing for it to disappear so that you can finally forget your encounter with the Prescott. But it stays.
Out of spite, you draw an umbrella on your whiteboard.
By Monday, the rain still has not let up, and you're creeping out of the dorm, wishing you owned a backup umbrella and cursing the one that is still sitting in the tree. Your jacket hood is pulled up, headphones nestled on your ears, playing a soft tune that still allows you to hear the rain around you.
You don't realize Nathan is around until he brushes past you, umbrella casually tossed over his shoulder as he heads towards the main building. Then, briefly, he meets eyes with you, and he pauses for just a second. There's a look in his eye that you can't quite place, his face carries no expression, but his eyes are a little too wide, a little frightened.
"Nathan!" You could have sworn that you saw Victoria leave already, but she comes jogging past you, joining him under his umbrella. "You and your umbrella couldn't have waited one minute?"
Whatever that look was, it's gone in an instant, replaced with the neutral expression that you usually see on him. You're not looking to get any better by eavesdropping, so you continue on your path to class, pushing the pretty-faced man out of your thoughts the best you can.
Nathan comes creeping back into your thoughts later that night. That expression. Why did he look at you like that?
In the safety of your dorm, you indulge in your nosiness. From your laptop, you look Nathan up in utter awe of how much power his family has over Arcadia Bay. As a non-native to the area, you didn't know who held power in this town. You'd genuinely believed your friends were exaggerating when they told you about Nathan and his family.
It takes you a while to find Nathan's social media. It wasn't easy to find the guy despite being tied to such a prominent family and running the Vortex Club. His Instagram is small, comprised of black and white photography that you don't doubt he took himself. Strangely, he has no tagged photos either.
Something has just fallen against your door, hard.
Startled, you jump to your feet and open your door, seeking the source of the noise. The doors to the stairwell are just beginning to fall shut. It's already too late to catch a glimpse of who it could have been.
By your feet is a long, thin cardboard box. As you pick it up, you find that it has a decent weight.
"What in the world?" You look towards the doors once more as if they can give you an answer.
Carefully, you open the box, and it all comes falling together.
It's an umbrella, the nicest one you've ever seen—the handle made from polished wood, fitting into your hand comfortably. You can already tell that it's an expensive one, you don't need the "Made In England" written on the box to know that one.
Using the brand name printed on the box, you run a short Google search to determine the mystery umbrella's actual price.
"Two hundred and ninety-five dollars?" You exclaim a little too loudly. "Who spends that much on an umbrella?"
The door diagonal from yours creeps open, Taylor's head poking out. "Y/N? Was that you who was yelling?"
"Sorry about that," your cheeks feel warm, "just a little confused, is all."
She slips out of her dorm, crouching down to look at what you're holding. "Over an...umbrella?"
You flip your phone around, letting her see its listing, "a three hundred dollar umbrella just randomly showed up outside of my room."
"Wow, okay, weird," she plucks the umbrella out of your lap, pushes it open. The umbrella is enormous. "It looks like you have yourself a pretty wealthy secret admirer, Y/N," she teases, twirling the umbrella in her hand, "do you know who could have left it?"
You have a good idea of who could have left it.
"Not a clue," you lie, "who the hell spends this much on an umbrella?"
"You would be surprised," she stands back up, her hand falling onto her door handle, "I have to go back to my homework. But, I'll keep an eye out and let you know if I spot anyone leaving anything else."
"Thank you, Taylor," she offers you a small wave and then disappears back into her dorm.
The umbrella is beautiful, but you cant keep it. It's so expensive.
As you slide the umbrella back into its box, your mind starts to wonder. Is that why Nathan gave you that look this morning? Did he assume you were expecting for him to replace your poor little Dollar General umbrella?
Again, who spends that much on a fucking umbrella?
You retreat inside of your dorm to retrieve a sticky note and a pen, writing a little message to go along with your return.
I genuinely appreciate the gesture, but I can't accept this. You don't have to get me a fancy umbrella just because my five-dollar umbrella decided to break. Thank you, though. :)
For extra measure, you reach for the bag of stickers you were gifted during your orientation to Blackwell, fishing out a little polaroid camera sticker to place at the bottom of the note.
With your note written, you head out of your dorm, umbrella in hand, and head downstairs to the boy's dorms. You expect Nathans dorm to be challenging to find, but the whiteboard stating "Prescotts own you" give it away. Easy enough.
Sticking the note to the box, you drop it from a decent height, letting it thud and smack against Nathan's door, much as he had done to you. From inside, you hear him swear, and you high tail it out of there before he can catch you.
On Tuesday, you return to that goddamn umbrella by your door again. There's a note on it.
Tke the godamn umbrella whore.
You return it with another note.
The rain has finally let up, and you decide to take a long, winding drive around Arcadia, making sure to not so accidentally pass by the Prescott Household. The house is every bit as regal as it had looked on your laptop. You cant imagine what it must be like living in that place.
For dinner, you stop by The Two Whales. You've heard a lot about it; it's about time you've given it a shot. A sweet woman named Joyce feeds you bacon and eggs with a large mug of coffee. It's like a homey version of Waffle House. You're so engrossed in your food that you don't realize who is in the booth behind you.
"The boy behind you paid for your meal," Joyce says, taking the empty plates from your table. She replaces it with a receipt and a to-go cup of more coffee, "but here's your receipt. Have a good evening, love."
Wide-eyed, you peer over your shoulder, immediately recognizing the mess of brown hair. Seriously? The bill was only ten dollars.
Digging into your wallet, you find two Hamiltons. You leave one for Joyce, and the other you toss onto Nathan's table as you walk past.
You really shouldn't have let Joyce give you an extra cup of coffee at 5 pm because it keeps you up late into the night. You find yourself checking your door aimlessly, hoping to find that damn umbrella outside of your room again, just so that you have something to do.
At least, that's what you keep telling yourself.
By midnight, no such thing has occurred. No umbrella. Not even a peep in the dorm. Faintly, you recall Dana saying that the door to the roof is unlocked. You put on your headphones and head up to the roof, considering you have nothing better to do.
The view is impressive; you can see everything from up there. In the corner, you sit next to the ledge, leaning against the barrier and simply resting your head. You're not daring enough to sit on top and dangle your legs off. You cant imagine that you'll survive if you accidentally fall off.
The summer air is still warm, the gentle breeze starkly different from the one that broke your umbrella. You peek your eye open. Yep, the umbrella is still lodged in the tree. At some point, you manage to nod off, lost in the music playing from your headphones.
The door behind you slams shut with such force that it jars you awake. Your heart almost stops as your headphones fall off your head, tumbling onto the ledge. You grab them, slipping them around your neck as you turn to see who has so pleasantly joined you on the roof.
You can't quite make out who it is right away. They're moving too fast, pacing back and forth, muttering something you cant understand.
Nathan looks about as awake as you do, his face pale and sweaty as he begins to wear a hole into the rooftop. He's panting, heavy breaths escaping between words. The only thing you can make out is something about a storm.
He manages a good dozen paces before he notices you, stopping dead in his tracks. "What the fuck are you doing up here?"
"Mourning my umbrella," your voice is deeper than it was before you fell asleep. How long had you been out?
He scoffs at that. He looks annoyed, but you don't miss how his shoulders drop.
"Nightmare?" You ask, moving to lean against the ledge, facing him fully. You're tempted to offer to leave, but you were here first. "Have a dream where you couldn't get rid of that umbrella?"
He smiles a bit at that. Then, ever so slowly, he comes to sit across from you, feet brushing against yours. "How do you know I didn't break into your room and hide it in there?"
"I've been waiting to find it sticking out of my car's windshield," you check your phone. 5 am.
He reaches into his jacket pocket, digs around a bit, and tosses something green at you. Your ten-dollar bill, albeit a bit more crumpled than it was when you'd given it to him.
"Nice try, " you toss it back, it lands on his lap, "I'm not taking it."
"I have more money in my wallet than your parents make in a month, keep it," he's trying to hide it, but there's an amused tone in his voice as he wads the bill into a ball and throws it at you. It hits you square in the nose, and the bastard laughs.
"And I don't need your charity," you throw it back. It hits him in the chest. "You seriously spent three hundred bucks on a fucking umbrella for some bitch you don't know?"
He shrugs. "So? Your five-dollar one couldn't take the heat."
You groan, rubbing the sleep from your eyes, "you're not letting up on this, are you?"
A period of silence washes over you. Nathan leans against the ledge, staring up into the night sky with such a thoughtful yet troubled expression. You wonder what's going on behind those eyes that seem to cut right through you.
"It's different," he says, finally. His eyes flick from the stars to look you over. "People don't usually reject things that come from the rich kid."
You want to say something witty, joke that the reason your new friends warned you about him was because he would force you to accept a gift. He seems too sincere to make that joke right now.
"I was serious in that note," you sit up, stretching your tired arms above your head. "I do appreciate it, but I don't need an expensive umbrella just because mine broke."
Nathan's eyes meet yours, searching, expecting. You do your best to maintain your firm gaze, afraid that even the slightest deviation may lead him to believe you're lying. Of course, you don't know who he's met in the past if this is a normal thing for new Blackwell residents, but you'll be damned if you let yourself come off as desperate for his money.
You're tempted to let the silence settle, but you have something else to say. "Although..." Nathan's eye twitches, "it has been fun playing tag with the umbrella."
That's the first time you see him smile. A big, lopsided grin sprawls across his face, and he laughs. Head tipped back, unbothered as he bumps his head against the rough concrete, chest heaving with laughter. "This is so fucking ridiculous," he snickers. "I can't believe I've been playing tag with some bitch I don't know the name of."
"What is umbrella tag not a thing you make a habit of?" You twist to the side, folding your arms over the ledge, resting your chin on them. The roof wasn't exactly the best place to sleep; you were still tired.
Nathan stares at you, long and hard. You don't need to look over at him to feel his eyes drilling into your frame. He shuffles, scoots away. "Don't move."
You can't quite tell what he's doing. He's fumbling in his pockets, pulling out a square object and—oh.
He's got his camera.
"Look down," he says dryly, "like you were before."
You're not in the mood to question it, eyes falling back to where they previously had. You can see Nathan taking pictures in your peripheral, shuffling around to change angles, going up, down, left, right, and sideways. Sometimes he uses flash, and you struggle to keep your eyes open.
Vaguely, you wonder if this will appear on his Instagram page. Would he post pictures of students from Blackwell? Will you get to see the outcome of these pictures? Is he just taking photos for fun, or is this for an assignment?
He quits moving, and you flick your eyes back to him, assuming he's done, but he's still taking photos.
"You're giving me that doe-eyed look again, loser," he sets his camera in his lap, finger tapping on the screen. He sounds irritated, but he doesn't look it.
"What doe-eyed look?" To that, he flips his camera around.
Okay, so maybe you were looking at him a little funny. You hadn't realized you'd been doing that.
"I think that's just my half-assed way of being confused," you admit, Nathan glances up at you. You don't need him to speak to know what he's asking. "Ever since I've gotten here, I've been warned that you'll bite my head off. But here I am, still with my head."
"You haven't pissed me off yet," he mirrors your position, resting on his knees and leaning against the roof ledge. His eyes don't leave his camera. Maybe that means your photos aren't half bad.
Somehow, you manage to nod off again. The wind in your hair and the soft, rhythmic clicking of Nathan's camera is strangely soothing. You hear the click of his camera again, feel him moving around you. A part of you is annoyed that he didn't ask, but then again, you didn't object to his earlier photos. You let it go.
You're woken by a shoe kicking yours, jarring but not hard enough to hurt. You catch a glimpse of Nathan disappearing into the stairwell; the sun is already over the horizon. There's an ache in your neck and your knees that makes you regret falling asleep again.
"Strange," you mutter. Class starts soon, but you manage to get to class on time, a heavy sensation pooling in your stomach. You can't quite place it. It's not dread, but it's not precisely excitement either.
You choose to keep the encounter to yourself. When Dana asks why you look so tired, you lie and tell her you couldn't sleep. There seems to be a big gossip circle around the Prescott—you're not eager to add to it.
You knock out the moment your head hits your pillow. The dorm bed is so much more comfortable than the roof.
To your dismay, you're awoken by a series of frantic, heavy knocks on your door. Although, you don't know what time it is; you don't make an effort to lift your head to check the clock.
"It's open!" You assume it's Dana or Taylor; hell maybe it's Alyssa. Whoever it is, your uninvited visitor is in your room in an instant. Then, in the hallway, you hear a man's voice. Security?
Your eyes are open now. The room is impossibly dark, and you have to turn on the lamp to see who's in your room.
"Nathan?" You blink harder, looking up at him. He's panting; cheeks flushed red. There's a camera around his neck.
"Fucking power-hungry pigs caught me out after curfew and chased me into the dorms," his teeth are gritted as he speaks, making it harder to understand what he's saying.
There's a heavy pounding on the door across from yours. Hell, they're checking the rooms.
In unison, you and Nathan look at the window, then back to each other. There's no way you can get him out the window. You sit up, scanning your room for a place to hide the guy. Nothing. The only site you can think of is your bed, but there are drawers under it. He can't fit under.
"Help me pull the bed out," you leap to your feet, grabbing ahold of the headboard and pulling it from the wall.
Nathan grabs the foot of it and tugs. He's stronger than he looks, at least, stronger than you because he manages to pull it out more than you did. Your soul just about leaves you and ascends into the high heavens when a heavy fist strikes your door.
"Security check! Open up!" God, fuck David Madsen.
Nathan seems to have gotten the gist of what you're trying to do. He's already crawling across your bed, slipping into the gap between mattress and wall. For extra measure, you toss your blankets over him, throwing a stuffed animal on top, just to be sure.
There's banging on your door again. Holy shit. This is happening.
With shaking hands, you grab the door and open it. David practically barges in, shoving you to the side as he enters. "Do you have any stowaways in here?" He barks, flashlight shining in your eyes. "Answer me!"
You flinch away, jarred by his presence. "I just woke up."
"Answer the damn question." He taps the foot of your bed, pushes on it until it slides a little. You assume he only stops going because it hit the "wall."
He looks around again, nods his head, and walks out of your dorm. "Sorry for the interruption. Carry on."
The moment he's gone, you're jumping for the handle, locking the door behind him.
Faintly, you hear Nathan groan. He says something, but you can't understand what he's speaking from under the blankets. Quickly, you grab the foot of the bed and pull it away from him—another groan.
"God, what the actual fuck," his head pops up from under the blankets, red as a beet. He can't see it, but the stuffed animal is right on top of his head.
"You're welcome," you bend down to plug in your string lights, bathing the room in a gentle, golden glow."I'm surprised you're hiding out in my room and not Victoria's."
"Victoria could sleep through a tornado," grumbling, he crawls out of the corner, settling on the edge of your bed. He tilts his head, scanning and taking in your room decor. The globe string lights and some fake ivy are the only things you've set up so far. A lonely plant sits in the left corner, next to your desk. You're not sure what it is, other than it's green, and it's tall.
"I can see what you were going for," he says, staring hard at the lights above him.
You sit back on your bed, not sure what to do now. "Really? Because I still don't."
He hums, "A couple of pictures on the wall, a few more plants, you're set."
"Noted," you catch him looking at you through your peripheral, meet his eye. He looks away. "How long am I harboring a fugitive for?"
"Until Deputy Donut quits looking for me," he shrugs, "he's new. He hasn't figured out who owns this shithole yet."
You fall back against the bed, tension already beginning to leave your tired shoulders. "Do you pay them off or something?" You freeze the moment the words leave your mouth. Nathan looks down at you, eyebrows furrowed. "I hope that isn't a touchy topic."
"You can stop walking on eggshells around me," he forces a meager smile, kicks back onto his elbows, "but that's...sort of, how it works. My dad shows up every once in a while to make a 'donation' to the school. So long as the administration agrees to a few terms regarding yours truly."
"Sounds like the dream," you sigh. "The question is, can Madsen be tamed?"
"People are afraid of me for a reason, doe-eyes."
"I'm sure they are," you daringly nudge his knee with yours, "but I have no reason to fear you, rich boy."
To your surprise, he nudges your knee in return, knocking your knee into the other. "Really? You have no fear whatsoever?"
"Nope," you desperately need to change clothes, so you get up, walking over to your wardrobe to fish out some pj's. "However, I do fear Madsen is lurking outside, so I'm going out to change as an excuse to check."
"And leave me in your dorm like some sort of house cat?"
You settle on a baggy red t-shirt and some black shorts, on the border of casual and sleepwear. "Would you like me to change in here and never find out of Madsen is in the hallway or not?"
Nathan flushes at that, cheeks and ears pink as he looks down at his lap. "Uh...right. Yeah, you go out and check for Asshat."
God, you just want to squish his cheeks. He looks so soft. Not to mention the fact that he's just laying there on your bed?
Ugh. You can't keep thinking about this. Your mind is already wandering too far.
"You know..." you start to say, grabbing your toothbrush as you head for the door. "Dana told me you were a prick, but you're pretty cute."
You don't wait to hear his response, slipping out the door and leaving him to his own devices. Probably not the best idea to say such a thing when you're leaving the guy alone in your bedroom, but hindsight is 20/20.
Sure enough, Madsen is posted at the end of the hallway. He eyes you questioningly but doesn't push you to explain why you're up. In the shower, you crumple to the floor and quietly screech.
Holy shit. Did you just say that to Nathan Prescott? Why did you say that?
Oh, fuck what if he's dating Victoria, and you didn't catch on.
Your shower is plagued with panicked thoughts that don't get better by the time you get out. Your toothbrushing session is a little extra violent compared to normal. By the time you're heading back to your dorm, your heartbeat is so loud you can hear it in your ears.
"So your name is y/n, huh?"
You freeze in your tracks; the door barely shut behind you. "Huh?"
Nathan's sitting on your desk chair backward, resting his chin on the back of it. Your laptop is on, the welcome screen proudly displaying 'Hello Y/N!'
"Got bored, figured your name had to be on something in here," he spins the chair back and forth, eyeing you with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "So, is Porky out there or not?"
You toss your clothes into the hamper. "Posted at the end of the hallway like a soldier."
"Blargh," he yawns, shakes his head. "If only you had a couch."
"Haven't been able to settle on what I want," you fall onto your bed for the umpteenth time since he'd so unceremoniously joined you, "I've just got a bed and a chair for now."
"And a Prescott," said man quips. Then, he points at your laptop, "do you have any movies on this thing?"
You have to think long and hard about that one. Warren Graham's face appears at the forefront of your thoughts. Ah, right.
"I think Warren gave me a red flash drive full of movies last week. Should be over there."
Nathan is quick to find it under a homework sheet, carrying it and your laptop over to the bed. You type the password in and let him do his thing.
He settles on a movie called Christine. You think you've seen it before; the bone-chilling Plymouth Fury certainly feels familiar, at the very least. Spooky, but not enough to keep you up at night. An excellent middle ground.
The movie ends almost too fast. You've almost forgotten that Nathan is sitting there. The time reads 1:54 AM. Classes don't start until 10, but you can barely keep your eyes open. Nathan looks about the same.
A quick trip to the bathroom reveals that Madsen is still posted outside. Nathan is stuck with you for the night. The two of you bicker about sleeping arrangements. He insists he take the floor, but you persist, explaining that you're okay sharing your bed and that it's not that big of a deal. You're surprised Madsen doesn't overhear the not-so-quiet argument. Nathan relents, and you soon find yourself back to back, with Nathan on the side closest to the door.
You sleep just as you would any other night. But, hell, you couldn't even tell he was there, aside from his occasional shuffle.
The sound of Dana and Juliet arguing is what wakes you up, much to your sleepy dismay. You're tempted to get up to ask them to pipe down, but your blankets are so warm and heavy around you that you can't bring yourself to move. You don't recall your bed ever being this warm before.
Wait a second.
Your eyes flash open, wide as saucers. There's an arm wrapped around you, hot puffs of air gently hitting the back of your neck.
Nathan Prescott is in your bed.
Slowly, you roll over, trying not to jostle him awake. You have to see his face, just to be sure it's...God, he's cute while he's asleep. He's so close that you're sure his nose would bump against yours if he moved even an inch. He looks so peaceful like this, not a problem in a world to plague that pretty head of his.
You could stay like this forever if not for your lovely neighbor slamming her door so hard that it sounded like the damn frame broke.
Nathan stirs at that, stretching and tightening his hold on you. You have to put a hand on his chest to stop him from dragging you any closer. His eyes open.
"What the hell," he mutters, letting you go. He doesn't seem to grasp what just happened fully.
But then he does.
His eyes go wide, eyebrows shooting up to his hairline as he jumps away from you as if burned. Then, before you can get a word out, he's gone, out the door and slamming it behind him.
You don't see him for the rest of the day. Not even in class. Maybe sleeping with you was so traumatizing that he dropped out. You catch a glimpse of him after class, slinking into the dorms like a feral cat in a crowded room.
For one reason or another, you spend your afternoon in the parking lot. Sitting in front of your car and pondering about where you should drive. Like clockwork, Nathan eventually shows up.
"You know, I'm starting to think that you're intentionally showing up wherever I am," you laugh, watching as he makes his way over to you.
"Got a problem with that?" He remarks, pulling his keys out of his pocket. You shake your head. "Good, follow me."
'Follow me' apparently meant, 'Get in my truck, we're going for a drive,' but it's not like you have anything better to do. Before you know it, you're bouncing around in his truck as he drives through town, taking turns a little faster than he needs to. It's mortifying every time you expect the car to tip on its side, but it never does.
He takes you to a lighthouse, which sits on top of a steep, winding hill that never seems to end. He doesn't speak through the entire walk. You don't push for conversation.
"You have a key to the lighthouse?" You squawk when he produces a singular key from his pocket.
He rolls his eyes at your exclamation, "My dad owns it. Duh." You've never heard him use such a light tone before; it suits him.
The lighthouse door opens with a heavy creak, dust sprinkling down from the old door. Nathan holds it open, lets you inside first. The inside of the lighthouse is just as dusty as you expected, the air stale, stairs looking as if they haven't been used in months. They groan under the weight of your foot, but they seem sturdy enough.
"I come here when I'm bored," Nathan elaborates, hand running along a remarkably clean handrail. "It gets better once you get to the top."
He isn't lying. The view is breathtaking. The open waters below you sparkle in the sunlight, brilliant blue gradually fading to gold with the slowly setting sun. A bird is chirping incessantly above your head, you can't see it, but you can only assume there's a nest on top of the lighthouse.
"When you said 'it gets better,' I didn't think you meant this," you can't tear your eyes away from it. And here you thought that the view from the dorm rooftop was beautiful.
"I've spent way too much time up here," Nathan leans against the railing, peering straight down at the cliff below. "Jefferson has pretty much banned me from taking any more photos of the view here."
"He must know you pretty well, then," curious, you peer over the edge as well. Your stomach churns at how high up you are.
A choked noise escapes the man next to you. "Yeah. Something like that."
He reaches into a box on the ground, plucks out a sleek camera that probably costs more than your car did.
"Pictures?" You cock your head to the side, looking at the camera intently.
"I had an idea earlier," he mutters, kicking his foot at the ground. "Do you..."
He doesn't manage to finish his sentence, but you're already nodding in agreement. He demonstrates a pose for you, has you staring out at the open sea with the most forlorn look you can muster. He puts you on the floor against the railing, asks you to cross your arms over your knees and hide your face in them.
You lose track of the pictures, falling into whatever pose he asks of you. You learn that he mutters when he takes pictures, that his hands tremble when he focuses, his touch is feather-light, and he likes to guide your gaze with his middle finger.
He makes you feel like a runway model, snapping your picture so fast that you cannot compute how many he's taken. It isn't hard to understand the emotion he's trying to translate into his photo, every pose, and expression reflecting the dark atmosphere his images always seem to contain. You suppose it will look much better once the pictures get translated to black and white.
The last photo you take is on the stairs. Its outcome isn't what he was going for, but Nathan tells you it's his favorite. As he's taking the photo, you hear a rat squeaking from below, and according to Nathan, the expression you made was so perfect that you couldn't replicate it if you tried.
He excuses himself to return the camera to its box, muttering something about "if I take it home, I'll forget to bring it back and miss out on some good shots," and you take the time to explore the base of the lighthouse.
There's graffiti everywhere the eye can see, reaching far into places that make you wonder just how it managed to get up there. There's an old corkboard near the door, covered in old flyers and posters. One of them, the Rachel Amber poster, is quite familiar.
You haven't quite been able to escape her flyer; it was the first thing you saw when you arrived, having fallen from where it's posted and landing in front of you. Carefully, you reach out so smooth out its crumpled corner, staring at her photo as you do so. Poor girl, you hope she's alright.
"Did you know Rachel?" You ask, hearing Nathan coming down the stairs.
He stiffens at your words, "Huh?"
You tilt your head to the poster. You're not sure why you even asked; it didn't matter either way.
"We were friends," Nathan's right up behind you now; you can feel his breath hitting the back of your head. "She partied with the Vortex club a lot, was fun to hang around. Everywhere I went, there she was." His voice is strained, quieter than it usually is.
"I suppose it's fitting, considering her posters are everywhere," you reach up, grabbing a spare thumbtack from the corkboard. You use it to pin the crumpled corner back into place, properly putting her poster on display.
Nathan's hand falls upon the base of your spine, gently pushes you to the door. It's a touch that sends heat rippling up your spine, blossoming into butterflies in your belly. You get the sense that he doesn't want to look at her poster anymore.
"This place reminds me of one of those fancy wedding venues," you mumble, primarily to yourself. It could use a lot of fixing, maybe some new paint, but you can picture it almost perfectly. A small, homey wedding on the cliff, a faceless couple sharing their kiss amidst the golden hour.
The keychain in Nathan's hand jingles as he locks the lighthouse door. "You know, my sister said the same thing when our dad bought this shithole."
"She must have good taste," the wind blows into your hair, gentle and warm, as you meet eyes with him. There's a light in his eye that you've never noticed before, a fond twinkle that makes you internally hope that he genuinely does like you, isn't putting up with you out of a sick sense of pity. The moment lasts for just a few fleeting seconds, feels like a scene plucked right out of a movie.
"You remind me of Rachel." Nathan's words startle you out of your dreamy trance.
"Huh?" You're not sure what to say to that.
He starts walking, and you have no choice but to follow him. He was your ride, after all. "Ever since you showed up, I've been running into you," he says, halfway down the trail. You get the feeling that he had been thinking about that one for a while. "I noticed it before the umbrella incident even happened."
"Maybe it's fate," you say, whimsically.
"Fate is for pussies," he says it so bluntly that you can't help but snicker a little, "so is that zodiac shit, Aristotle and virgins or whatever."
"Aries and Virgo?" You roll your eyes at his glare. "So where are we off to now? Blackwell?"
His truck beeps as you approach, which is odd, considering Nathan never reached into his pocket to unlock it. It must be one of those rich guy gadgets.
Or maybe it's alive, like the car in the movie was. They do share the same color...
"Something like that."
Something like that apparently was code for I'm going to give you a heart attack. Because the first thing Nathan did, was floor it out of the parking lot. You yelp as the truck fishtails, grabbing onto the door handle and clutching it in an iron fist. Nathan cackles, floors it at the next stop sign he stops at.
"Are you trying to kill us?" You squeak, your heart sitting high in your throat.
"You haven't seen anything yet!" He has to yell over the music as he turns it up higher, some shitty pop song playing on the radio.
It's when he hits an open, straight road that your fear leaves you, replaced with a strange sense of excitement as Nathan's truck flies down the road. The windows are down, wind violently whipping through your hair and getting it in your face. Nathan has the biggest grin you've ever seen on him, one hand on the steering wheel, the other lying across the top of the seats.
"Hold on!" He tells you, and you listen, grabbing onto whatever feels sturdy. And then he's slamming on the brakes, jolting you nearly out of your seat as the truck roars to a hard stop. The seat belt is probably the only thing keeping you from flying out the window.
"What the fuck was that?" You cry, weakly clutching at your pounding chest. Nathan just laughs, lets the truck start going at an average, much more legal speed.
He takes you around town and shows you the landmarks you haven't gotten to see yet. He tells you what he knows about Arcadia Bay, its history, how his family came into power, gives you an official introduction to the town. He asks about where you came from in the drive between spots, and you tell him everything, the town, your parents, your favorite place to get food.
His arm rests against the door, hand in his hair as he listens to you ramble. At times you wonder if he's getting tired of hearing you talk, yet every time you go silent, he comes up with another question to ask you. When he eventually returns to Blackwell, he puts his number in your phone, playfully threatens to tamper with the seat belts if you share his number with anyone.
Drives like these become a habit. Nearly every afternoon, you find each other in the parking lot. Sometimes you drive, on others, he drives; he even lets you drive his truck on occasion, gripes when you tell him he's not allowed to drive yours. The drives last for hours; sometimes you're going to an actual destination, others you're driving aimlessly through Arcadia backroads.
Nathan takes a little bit to open up about his personal life, but he tells you everything when he does. He tells you about his therapist, how poorly his father treats him. You learn that he loves to travel and that he's been lying about planning to go to Stanford. Instead, he wants to make a living out of art, to travel until he finds a place that feels like home, far, far away from his father's reign.
"I want to be my own man, pave my way," he grumbles from the comfort of your passenger seat. He's laying in the seat sideways, facing you. "Change my last name to Fuckwad and become mayor, or...something like that."
If you're not going on a drive, you're curled up in each other's rooms, watching movies and poking fun at its plotlines. You mostly spend time in Nathan's room; his fancy projector is much easier to look at than your tiny laptop.
The umbrella continues to appear in your life, in unique places. Once you found it in your trunk, another it was under your bed, witty note always attached. Out of Nathan's request, you keep your friendship a secret, choosing to hide in the shadows, away from prying eyes. You ask him about it once, and he begrudgingly admits that he's afraid that others may begin to treat you negatively.
He shows up at your door drunk later that night, tearfully mumbles a story about a girl he liked named Samantha. In his own words, his father didn't approve of him having feelings for a person of lower status and paid her family an unknown sum of money to move out of Arcadia and stay away from his son.
"I don't want him running you off," he slurs into your pillow, eyes wet with tears that he refuses to shed. You learn that he's a sad drunk, a kicked puppy wanting someone to pat its head and tell it that everything is okay. He falls asleep in your dorm, is gone by the time you wake up.
August fades into September, you learn that he lied about his birthday, that it was August 29th, not April 29th, and make it a point to find him a fitting birthday present.
"I can buy anything I want; you don't need to get me anything," he tells you, taps on his brakes a little too hard, just to get a reaction out of you.
He has therapy sessions on Saturdays, and that's the only time you can escape Blackwell without him realizing you're up to something without him. Unfortunately, it's raining, and you're really not sure what you'll get him, but you stumble across a little retro shop in a neighboring town anyway. You find a vintage Polaroid camera. It exclusively takes photos in black and white, and it feels so perfect that you buy it on the spot.
Nathan acts like it's no big deal, but the slight upturn in the corner of his lips doesn't escape you. The first picture he takes with it is a picture of the both of you, slips into your room while you're in class, and clips it to your hanging lights with a tiny clothespin. You suppose that's his way of saying thank you.
In October, Nathan starts acting a little strange.
He wakes you up late Saturday night, forgoing the knocking and entering with the key he has to your room. You don't realize until he's sitting on the foot of your bed, fingers drumming on your leg as he mumbles incoherently to himself.
"Nathan?" You yawn, lifting your heavy head to look at the figure on your bed.
"Y/N?" His voice cracks, doesn't manage to finish saying your name.
You sit up, sleepy eyes squinting to make out the expression on his face. His eyes are wide, watery, jaw tense. He inhales at the hand you place on his shoulder.
"What happened?" You ask, fingers gently rubbing at the tense muscle they've settled upon.
Nathan won't meet your eye for a long time, stares at the floor like it's the most interesting thing he's seen in a while. You're worried, but sleep refuses to let you out of its sticky grasp, and you find yourself resting your cheek on his shoulder, sleepily waiting on him to speak. He will, eventually.
That's something you've figured out about him. Sometimes he's afraid to hear his voice out loud.
"I keep having the same fucking nightmare," he blurts; for the first time, you see tears spill over his cheeks.
You hum but otherwise remain quiet.
"I keep seeing a freak tornado tear apart Arcadia," he hiccups, squirms when you wrap your arm around his shoulders, "it always happens on October seventh."
Dimly, you recall that it's the first of the month. "The seventh should be this coming Friday," you say quietly.
"I'm aware of that, dipshit," even with tears in his eyes, he's still Nathan Prescott. You offer him a small smile, glad he hasn't lost his usual sharp tongue. "The nightmares started on the same night you found me in the rain, and it hasn't stopped since. I'm even having them when I'm awake now. One minute I'm awake, the next I'm in that fucked up nightmare."
"Have you talked to your therapist about it?" Your fingers find his ribs, lightly drumming against them.
He stares down at your wandering hand, does nothing to stop it. "They stuck me on anti-psychotics, told me I might be schizophrenic, but it's not fucking working."
"Do the dreams feel real?"
"It feels just like this. I can't tell the fucking difference."
You aren't sure what to do with him. Taking him for a drive might settle him down, but you aren't sure you're capable of driving without falling asleep right now. Against better judgment, you wrap your free arm around him, snuggling into his shoulder fully now.
"You'll be alright," you tell him, bumping his foot with yours, "if it comes to it, I'll buy a service dog vest and follow you around campus."
You're sure that you hear him call you a moron.
It feels like there's more he wants to tell you because he's quiet for another period. You wonder what it could be, what dark secret he's hiding behind those pale blue eyes that never fail to give you butterflies.
Gradually, his arm moves out from under you, slips around your waist, and pulls you into his chest. His heartbeat is loud in your ear, but it fails to hide the shaky breath that falls from his lips.
"Everything will be alright," you repeat, voice a ghost of a whisper, "I promise."
"Don't make promises you can't keep."
You stay that way until your neck starts to hurt, which probably isn't very long, but it feels like you've been cuddled there for hours. Nathan looks much more composed when you pull away, but you can see in his eyes that his dreams still haunt him. Wordlessly, you pat the side of your bed, scooting into the corner to make room for him.
He hesitates, eyes flickering between the door and the bed. You're about to offer some more words of comfort, your chosen phrase heavy on the tip of your tongue when he crawls over and slips under the covers. He lays with his back to you; more than likely, there's still a hot "do I leave or stay" debate going on in his head.
Your hand wanders out on its own accord, snaking its way up to his waist. His body stiffens, halting your movements. You startle when a cold hand finds yours, guides it down until your arm is locked around him, fingers tucked between him and the mattress. You scoot a little closer, nose resting against a sharp shoulder blade.
He smells like a cozy campfire that's been set up in the middle of a bakery. There's a faint, woodsy musk laced with the ethereal white ambers of his cologne, sweet, but not overpoweringly so. It's not what you expected, yet it feels so uniquely him.
You fall asleep long before he does, not intentionally, but you're sure that he'll wake you up if he needs you again. He doesn't, though. Soon, you're waking up in a cozy bundle of blankets and a heavy arm wrapped around you. Your nose is crushed into a white t-shirt, all too familiar to you.
How Nathan scooted so high up and how you ended up on the edge of your pillow is beyond you, but it's so comfortable that you can't bring yourself to scoot back up.
"Are you some sort of dream catcher?" Nathan's voice is so deep and gravelly that you barely recognize it. His hand runs over the back of your neck, toying with the shorter hairs there.
You tilt your head up, taking in his sleepy face. "No nightmares?"
He takes you out to a late breakfast at Two Whales, bickers with you about who's paying the whole way there. Eventually, he wins, he always does, but you like to argue with him over it.
"Isn't that your third can of soda?" You say around a mouthful of toast, widening your eyes to put on that doe-eyed look he always bitched about you having. Of course, at this point, you do it just to bug him.
"Too early for booze," he supplies, setting the mug down a little too hard. "God, these pills make me feel loopy."
"Is that why you didn't shoot out of my room like I'd burned you this time?" You can't help yourself from bringing it up. You would have done it earlier, but he has a habit of choking on his drink that you don't want to contribute to any more than you already have.
Nathan rests his chin in his palms, furrows his eyebrows at your statement. "What? You think I'm appalled by you?"
"No. Now quit thinking shit like that," he steals a piece of your bacon. "If I had a problem with you, I'd tell you."
That's the end of the conversation.
Joyce brings back the bill, and you, as per usual, sneak her a tip on your way to the restroom. After breakfast, Nathan drops you off at the dorms. He mentions that he has some "Vortex club bullshit" to attend to with Victoria, which usually implies that you won't see him for the rest of the day. For a split second, you consider kissing him on the cheek. Then think against it.
To hell with it.
In one swift move, you lean over the console and plant the softest kiss you can muster on his cheek. His eyes flicker towards you. For a second, you're concerned he may be pissed.
Then a big, goofy smile breaks out onto his face. "Get the hell out of here, nerd. I'll catch you to beat you up in the locker room later."
That giddy tone on him is new—you kind of like it.
"See you around, school bully," you chirp, hopping out of the truck. He's gone the moment you're on the sidewalk, off to terrorize Frank for school supplies, more than likely.
"Y/N? Did I just see you get out of Nathan Prescott's car?" God, how long had Dana been standing there?
"Nope," you lie, striding past her. You have to bite your cheek to hide your smile.
"No, that was his license plate!" But, of course, Juliet is there too.
God, you're not getting out of this one easy. "He'll kill me if I tell anyone about it," you explain to the two girls who have now joined you on your not-so-graceful return to the dorms. "Just talked me into letting him copy my chemistry homework, is all."
"Really?" Juliet pipes, "I always thought those rumors were false."
"Where there's smoke, there's fire," there's a sign in the English room that says that exact quote. So you suppose that's where you learned it from.
The girls press you for details and give up quickly when you don't provide many. In your dorm, you send a warning text to Nathan that they'd caught on to you. He doesn't respond. It strikes you as a little odd when you overhear Victoria bitching in the hallway. Isn't she supposed to be the one helping Nathan plan?
You wake up to Nathan sitting on your bed again. He must have entered your room a little quieter this time. He tells you he had the nightmare again, and, just like last night, you let him crawl under the covers and cuddle up to him. You pet his hair as he tells you every detail, the newspaper with the date, the inability to escape as he's forced to watch the town be destroyed.
This time, he includes what he's told his father. To no ones surprise, Sean Prescott isn't taking him seriously, made Nathan take double the amount of prescribed medicine, and told him to keep quiet while he attended to his business ventures. You suppose that's why Nathan is extra twitchy, a little more distant. You fall asleep with his head on your chest, tucked under your chin.
Monday is as typical as it can get. Nathan takes off an hour before class starts, and lectures consume the day. You're overcome with an overwhelming sense of dread in your final class. There's something nasty looming in the distance, wrapping around your lungs and squeezing until it's hard to breathe. You cant put your finger on it.
It only worsens when the fire alarm goes off, and you catch Nathan flying out of the women's bathroom like a bat out of hell. You're tempted to go after him, but God, can Nathan be a prick when he's in a mood.
You settle down in the courtyard, trying and failing to stop your pounding heart from breaking out of your chest. Drinking water doesn't help.
There's yelling from the parking lot. God, that sounds like Nathan.
A cold hand reaches up from your churning stomach, grabs onto your heart, and squeezes so hard your heart feels as if it may burst.
You're on your feet in an instant, halfway across the courtyard, before you can even realize it. Worried eyes watch as Nathan headbutts Warren hard enough to knock the poor science kid onto his ass. It's almost impressive, but then he's grabbing Max Caulfield by the neck, and oh God Nathan, please stop.
"Nathan!" Your voice is high, strained as you sprint across the parking lot.
It's a little too late to be stepping in, Max is already scratching his cheek, and he's gasping, shoving her away to cradle the scratches on his cheek. A rust bucket of a truck comes flying around the corner, almost hits the poor brunette girl who's fallen on the ground.
You're not sure what you're doing here. You can't fight, not yet, at least, but you're throwing yourself in front of Nathan the moment you catch sight of Warren lunging for him. Warren slams into you like a freight train knocks the breath right out of your lungs with the force of his tackle.
"Seriously?" Nathan's above you in an instant, kicking Warren off of you with his foot. "What the actual fuck, nerd?"
He's seething; jaw gritted so tightly that you briefly worry his teeth may shatter under the force of it. Yet he's holding a hand out, pulling you up to your feet like he's been your partner in crime for years. The rust bucket roars to life. Tires squeal as it takes off.
Everything in your right eye goes black, something solid, striking your face so hard that it sends you reeling. Nathan's grabbing you, sputtering words you can't comprehend.
Then you feel it. Searing, white-hot pain blossoming in your right eye, a warm liquid trickling down your sensitive skin. You struggle to open it, don't even recall shutting it. You groan, clasping a hand over your newfound injury.
"What's going on over here?" A heavy voice barks. You recognize it, you can't put a name on the owner.
You regain control over your eye, blinking rapidly as your retinas struggle to readjust. By your feet, you notice a rock about the size of your fist.
"That truck must have kicked it up," you register Warren's voice first.
A heavy hand snakes under your jaw, roughly lifting your head to meet familiar blue eyes. They flicker across your face; a finger taps your sensitive cheek.
"Ow," you recoil, fighting the grip Nathan has on your jaw. He holds you steady, grabs your waist to prevent you from stumbling too far away.
"Which of these fools hit you?" David's there, pushing you away from Nathan a little too harshly. You cower under the security guard's glare, taking one step back for every step he takes forward. "Answer me!"
"Nobody!" You yelp, your back is bumping against Nathan's chest.
Nathan pushes in front of you, creating distance between you and David. "That decrepit shitbox kicked up a rock, and it hit them in the face," his voice has a shake to it; so far, you've only heard it when his father has pissed him off beyond belief. "Don't you have better things to do, Madsen?"
Against your will, Ms. Grant appears and separates you from Nathan, hushing your complaints before you can even get them out of your mouth. "We need to get you looked at," she tells you as she guides you into the school.
The nurse has been out on maternity leave all month, but Ms. Grant is a good substitute nurse. You find yourself stumbling over your words, telling her about the strange feeling that had overcome you and brought you to the parking lot in the first place. Your hands are trembling, have been for quite some time now.
"It sounds like you just have a good intuition, Y/N," she concludes, wiping blood from your cheek with an alcohol wipe. "I take it you've befriended Nathan Prescott, then."
You wince at the sting the alcohol wipe leaves you with. "I'm just as surprised about it as you are," you joke.
"I've been wondering why Nathan is so subdued this year," she chuckles, producing a bag of ice. "Just...try not to let him get you into trouble, okay?"
You welcome the ice with open arms, pressing it to your bruised eye the moment she gives it to you. "I'll try not to," you promise.
"I hope you're not talking about me," Nathan's appeared in the doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms crossed. Sounds annoyed, doesn't look it.
"I'm just glad that you've found a new friend," Ms. Grant chuckles, "try to stay out of trouble, you two."
You take that as your queue to leave, jogging to catch up with the Prescott, who has already started walking. Nathan remains quiet as you walk out to the courtyard, and it hits you that you left your backpack under the tree. You mindlessly head towards it, but you're stopped by a hand on your wrist.
"Huh?" You flick your gaze back to your friend.
He says nothing, at a loss for words as he tugs you closer to him. That twinkle in his eye is back, brighter than before. Two fingers hook under your chin, lifting your gaze to meet his. The corner of his lips turns up into a half-smile as he takes in a shaky breath.
And before you can process what he just said, he's leaning in and pressing his lips onto yours. His lips are so soft against yours, so absurdly gentle that you can't help but melt into it, arms snaking around his neck to pull him impossibly closer.
Just as quickly as he leaned in, he's pulling away, pushing your noses together, cheeks pink.
"So fucking stupid," the hand holding your chin wanders into your hair. "Out here saving Nathan Prescott from a rock."
"I think I got a pretty nice bruise out of the encounter," you brush your fingers against the scratches on his cheek, fighting a frown. "At least we match."
Nathan's eyes flicker down to your lips. You don't need any more encouragement, placing a hand on the back of his head and pulling him down to kiss you again. He sighs into it, lips gently caressing your own in such a tender fashion that makes you question if this is even real.
"I thought we were supposed to be hiding, whatever this is," you giggle, breaking the kiss. It earns you a dramatic eye roll.
"Yeah, well," his thumb smooths over your injured cheek, "maybe I've changed my mind."
"Damn Nathan, get it!"
Nathan grumbles, pulls away from you, "Can you not, Hayden?" You're genuinely surprised at his half-assed reaction. Maybe he's used up all of his anger for the day.
Hayden cackles claps his hand in mock applause. Nathan flips the bird. That's the end of their interaction.
"Will you wait for me in my dorm?" Nathan produces a key from his pocket, holds it out for you to take. "I...there's something I need to show you."
The key trembles in his hand, and you get the feeling that the shakiness has nothing to do with what just happened. Regardless, you hold out an open palm, letting it drop into your hand. "Eye eye cap'n."
"Go walk the plank, nerd," he quips, reaching out to lightly shove your shoulder.
You part ways, Nathan heading back to the parking lot while you gather your things and head back to the dormitory. You wonder what it is he wants to show you. His list of crimes committed at Blackwell? Another horror movie that has a tragic ending? A photo of his bank account?
The rapidly forming bruise on your cheek earns you a lot of stares, but nobody says anything. You're somewhat thankful for that, not ready to start feeding into rumors on a Monday afternoon. Maybe you'll entertain the idea on Thursday.
After dropping off your stuff, you fish the umbrella out from under your bed and head off to Nathan's dorm. Of course, when you open the door, you don't expect to walk in on Mr. Jefferson, standing and staring at the projector.
"Y/N!" He startles, setting a camera down on Nathan's bed. "You're not supposed to be in here."
"I uh..." you're too stunned to speak. Mr. Jefferson? In Nathan's room? Huh?
"I was...just dropping off this umbrella!" You squeak, setting the box next to the door. "I'm running errands for Victoria."
"Interesting. I didn't know you and Victoria were that close," Mr. Jefferson says slowly. There's something different here. He seems off. Predatory. He is the eagle, and you are the tiny, helpless mouse. Instinctively, you back out of the room, lingering in the safety of the hallway.
"What are you doing?" Nathan's fast approaching. "Who are you? Get out of my dorm!" Nathan's hands are on your shoulders, shoving you back.
"W-huh?" You're even more confused, stumbling away.
"Get out!" Nathan bellows.
Something's wrong here. If you didn't know any better, you would think he's terrified. But what does Mr. Jefferson have to do with it? He steps toward you, towering above you like he did when you first met. Then, his eyes change, softening for a split second.
You turn on your heels and run.
Nathan chases you around the corner, half-assedly, granting the illusion of rage. You know damn well that he could have caught you if he wanted to. But, why?
Shaken, you leave the dorms entirely, making a b-line for the parking lot. You don't know where you're going; you'd rather be anywhere but here. You drive around Arcadia, taking old back roads that do nothing but remind you of the times you and Nathan went over them. You grab a coffee from Two Whales, sipping on it as you drive.
The strangest fucking thing happens just then.
Is it snowing?
You pull over in the lighthouse parking lot, and of-fucking-course that rust bucket truck has to be parked there too. Stepping out of your car, you reach up to catch the snowflakes in your hand. The tiny flakes melt the moment they hit your skin. It's too warm for snow. Your phone tells you that it's sixty degrees out. This cant be real.
The cold flakes hitting your skin tell you otherwise.
Your parking lot mate leaves not soon after the snow begins. Max chases after a blue-haired punk, who she affectionately calls Chloe. They seem to be good friends. You want to be angry at them for causing your injury, but you can't bring yourself to ruin their playful banter. You put your headphones on when they leave and head up to the lighthouse.
From your pocket, your phone rings, blasting a familiar tune that startles the wildlife around you. You don't answer.
The bench is another familiar place to you. It's still warm from its previous occupants. You've spent countless hours on this bench with Nathan, bitching about life together while he smokes a joint. Those are the days that you find yourself behind the wheel of Nathan's truck the most. Nathan is a lot of things, but if there's one thing he won't do, it's driving under the influence.
Golden hues of sunlight fade into shades of purple and blue. The music playing from your headphones transports you into a world of wonder as the stars come out, one by one. One time, Nathan had told you that his father paid to have a star named after him when he was small. He still has the certificate in his room. You wonder which star could be his.
In your lap, your phone lights up with a message.
'Trn ar0und nrd'
Nathan stands behind you, kicking at the dirt below his foot.
"How did you know I was here?" You slip your headphones off your head, letting them hang on the back of the bench. Music still plays softly from them.
"Checked in the usual places," he rounds the bench, hesitates before sitting down. A red backpack drops at his feet. "I..."
You so desperately want to be mad at him, to raise hell and demand an answer out of him. The shaky kiss he places on your sore cheek dissipates all of that. Nathan produces a tattered yellow binder from the backpack, opens it to a picture. You have to scoot closer to get a better look.
The picture is of Nathan and a blond-haired girl sprawled out on the ground. Nathan's eyes are open, with that uncanny lifeless look that taxidermied animals have. Surely he couldn't have taken this himself? That girl, though, she looks like...
"Is that Rachel Amber?" You finish your thought aloud.
Slowly, Nathan nods his head. "There's something that I need to tell you, Y/N," he says after a moment. "Just, promise me you won't freak out."
It takes you a minute to find your words. You don't know what you agree to here; you don't know how you manage to stutter out a small yes.
"When Mr. Jefferson first came to Blackwell, he was more or less my favorite person in the world," his voice wavers as he speaks, but he pushes through it. "He treated me like I was his son. My dad...he never did that. And like a complete and utter moron, I started spending all my free time in Mr. Jefferson's classroom and doing extra work to get his approval."
His hand wanders down, grabs ahold of yours. "Whatever he wanted, I got for him. And then one day, he asked for access to the bunker my dad built for me."
Nathan keeps talking, for once, he talks, and he talks, and he talks. He tells you about how Mr. Jefferson started acting strange, showing him photos of female classmates who didn't look all that sober. Then, one day in early April, Nathan walked into the private bunker and caught Mr. Jefferson photographing an unconscious girl.
Nathan tells you that he wanted to go to the police, but Jefferson shot a gun at him and threatened to use Nathan's handing over of the bunker access code to convince the police that he was in on the whole thing. When he learned that Rachel was next, he tried to warn her. Unfortunately, she didn't believe him, and foolishly he took her to the darkroom to prove it.
Jefferson was already there, though, and dosed Nathan with a syringe to the neck. According to Nathan, the next thing he recalled was waking up in Jefferson's back seat, being presented with a photo of himself and Rachel posed together. If Nathan ever snitched to the police, Mr. Jefferson would use the image as hard evidence that Nathan was the one at fault. He hasn't seen Rachel since.
That photo was what Mr. Jefferson used to coerce Nathan into doing his dirty work.
"I didn't want to hurt them," Nathan whimpers, hot tears streaming down his face like a waterfall, "Rachel, Kate, I didn't want to hurt anybody."
You don't even know what to say. All of this is too much. You want to get up and run and never look back, but Nathan has an iron grip on your hand.
"Nathan," your voice is hoarse, "why are you telling me all of this?"
He only cries harder, holds your hand with both of his now. "You're next on his list."
The pieces are all falling into place now.
You find yourself putting your free hand on top of his, clenching it as tightly as you comfortably can manage. "Is this why you chased me out of your dorm?"
"He can't know about you," Nathan sobs, "I can't let him hurt you." His voice breaks as he speaks. He won't look at you.
You bring your hand up to his jaw, tilting his head towards you. He trembles under your hand, hiccuping. Your thumb fruitlessly attempts to wipe his tears away. "Nathan..."
He makes this noise; you can't quite describe it. It's this heartbreaking whine that escapes the back of his throat as he tries to bite back his tears. Your body moves on its own accord, reaching for his shoulders. He crumbles, hot tears falling on your neck. Your eyes sting with tears of your own.
You sit there, on the old bench, crying until you physically can't shed another tear. Somehow, you end up sitting in his lap, hugging each other while music still plays from your abandoned headphones. When he's calm, Nathan pushes your noses together, rubs them together just to make you smile.
"If you don't want to see my ugly mug ever again, I completely understand," he whispers, squeezing your hips.
You kiss him. That's when you hear it, a small, hitching gasp that leaves Nathan's throat that makes you feel so warm inside, despite everything that has just been told to you. It hits you then that you've completely and utterly fallen in love with this hot-headed man, and you wholeheartedly believe everything he's told you.
"Thank you for telling me," you mumble against his lips. "What do we do now?"
The first order of business is dropping Nathan's truck off at David Madsen's house. Somehow, his dad has finally gotten David on your side. You park in front of the house, right behind Nathan's truck. To your dismay, your eyes settle upon that fucking truck again. Your cheek stings just at the sight of it.
There's a knock on your window, startles you right to your core.
"The fuck do you want?" You chirp, rolling down the window.
"Black or green?" Nathan inquires. You hear his fingers drumming on the roof of your car.
You're not sure why he's asking you this. Green sounds nice, though. "Green."
"Green it is."
David comes out just then; you watch intently as Nathan walks across the yard to meet him. There's an exchange of words and keys; a few Benjamin's are in there too.
"What just happened?" You ask when Nathan hops into your passenger seat. He seems to have forgotten that he left it all the way reclined because he clumsily falls backward with a grunt.
"Paintin' the truck green," he says, "the hope is that Mr. Jefferson won't recognize my truck once it has a new paint job."
"Is that why you just asked me to pick between two colors?"
"Congrats! Do you want a gold star?"
Nathan sleeps in your room that night. He strides into your room with a bubblegum flavored lollipop in his mouth, an umbrella box in one hand, a small cactus in the other. You find yourself staring at the prickly plant a little too hard.
"What, you afraid of cacti?" He says around the lollipop.
"Why do you have a cactus?" It's a cute cactus. It would be prettier if it weren't so phallic. That's how you know he picked it all by himself.
"Because you're a prick."
God, you hate him.
Against your will, the offending cactus finds a home on your desk, next to a lucky bamboo plant that mysteriously appeared there last week. You're starting to think that he has a stash of plants, which are slowly being transported to your room.
"Where are you hiding the umbrella this time?" You don't bother to raise your head to see where he's rummaging around. You'll find the umbrella eventually.
"Somewhere, you'll never find it," he takes his usual place on your bed, snaking an arm around your hips to pull you into him.
You don't remember falling asleep, but you wake up facing the wall. A warm arm is looped around your tummy, a firm chest pressing against your shoulders as soft lips place feather-light kisses along the back of your neck. Nathan's gone so incredibly soft for you. The thought makes your heart flutter.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, you come up with a plan to keep each other in check. You send texts in a pattern. Every few hours, you send each other an emoji of a green caterpillar to signify that you're alright. If something is wrong, you send an emoji of a red ladybug.
Your evening class is interrupted by a guy running in and saying something is going down at the dorms. Naturally, you don't intend to follow your classmates as they rush out of Ms. Grant's classroom, but at the mere sight of Mr. Jefferson entering the room, you're gone.
You don't know Kate Marsh very well; she's the last person you expect to see standing on the roof. Thank God for Max appearing on the roof when she did, although you could have sworn that she was behind you just a few seconds prior.
Nathan goes MIA in Principal Wells' office, but he sends you a caterpillar, so you suppose everything is okay. He appears shortly before the second strange weather event occurs—an eclipse.
"Maybe your vision of a tornado wasn't that far off," you're unable to tear your eyes from it. That's just not possible. You don't just suddenly have a surprise eclipse one day.
"I'm starting to genuinely consider getting a hotel for Friday," Nathan's hand laces with yours, squeezing in intervals.
That night, you curl together in bed, bickering over hotels and what you'll do if a tornado doesn't happen at all. You settle on a moderately priced one, thirty minutes away from Arcadia. Just talking about the storm makes Nathan's nerves spike. In the darkness of your room, you kiss him until your lips are bruised, and you can't catch your breath, and then some.
Class is canceled for the rest of the week.
You spend all of Wednesday texting back and forth about what you should take, who should drive. Nathan's truck comes back late that day, dawning a sparkling shade of emerald green. You're genuinely surprised at how well David painted it in such a short amount of time. In his excitement, Nathan takes you on a joy ride.
The feeling dies when you drive past the beached whales.
"Those poor whales," you gasp, moving in your seat to get a better look at them. Nathan pulls over in the beach parking lot to better look at the dead animals.
You can't even begin to fathom how the massive creatures got so far up on the beach. It's a morbid sight, and you can't even begin to think of how Nathan must feel. But, if there's one thing you know about him, it's that his favorite animals are whales.
"I'm going to pay Frank a visit," Nathan says abruptly, hopping out of the truck. You hadn't noticed the old RV parked down on the beach until now.
"I'll stay here and guard the truck," you tell him. The moment the door is shut, your hand is reaching down to the radio dial, turning it until you can find a station you're sure he'll loathe. It's sort of the new running gag that if Nathan leaves you alone in his truck, you mess with the radio.
This is the first time he's ever brought you along to get something from Frank. There have been numerous occasions when he's kicked you out at the Two Whales so that he can go by himself.
"I get the feeling I'm going to be driving," you say to yourself.
Nathan takes a little bit to come back, which is good because it takes a while to find a station that isn't playing advertisements. By the time he makes his appearance, you've situated yourself in his seat, leaned out the open window as you wait.
"I didn't tell you that you could drive," he bites, but there's no venom in his words.
A joint settles between his plush lips as he clambers into his passenger seat. There's usually a lighter in his glove box, except it isn't in there today. You have a funny feeling that it's in Nathan's laundry, tucked into a pocket. He's constantly losing it, and it's always turning up in the laundry.
"Whatevathefuck happened to my lighter?" He gripes, slamming the glove box shut.
Putting the truck into gear, you back Nathan's truck out from the parking lot. You don't need to be told where to drive. The lighter Nathan owns is the only one he'll use. It's not hard to guess that he will want to visit his dorm and retrieve it.
As you drive, Nathan reaches into the backseat, produces a small bottle from the mini cooler that sits back there. He tilts it back, drinks the entire thing in one go. You recognize that drink from anywhere, the golden tint to the liquid, the red cap, the face Nathan makes once it's down. "I thought you hated Fireball?"
Nathan drops the empty bottle into his lap. "I do."
In the blink of an eye, you're at Blackwell and find yourself pulling into Nathan's usual parking space. The alcohol must already be working its way into Nathan's system because he takes a little longer getting out than usual. He takes his time, for once. Usually, he's out before the truck is even parked.
"Did you eat anything before you drank that?" You question him once you're out of the vehicle.
"Nope." He drags out the n for longer than he has to, gives you a nudge with his shoulder.
You drop his car keys into his waiting palm. Your following words are on your tongue, ready to tell him that you plan to wait for him in the parking lot because you don't want to walk to the dorms and back. A calloused hand seizes yours, laces your fingers together, and Nathan's cat-like grin is so cute that you can't get the words out of your mouth.
Your hands swing back and forth as the two of you make your way across the courtyard. It's a slight swing, not overly dramatic, but you can feel Nathan is putting a little effort into moving your hands.
"This is new," the words that fall of your tongue aren't the ones you planned on using, but they still ring true.
"Isn't all of this new?" A smile laces his words. He has a point.
"No shit, Sherlock," eyeroll. "Is this your secret sensitive side talking, or is it the alcohol?"
It dawns on you that neither of you have spoken about what in the world you are now. Are you an item? Or are you just fucking around?
"I think it's both."
Right on queue, there go the butterflies fluttering away in your stomach with purpose.
You expect your hands to fall apart once you begin to encounter your peers; you even start to let go of Nathan's hand. Whether it's the alcohol or if it's just him, you're not sure, but he maintains a firm grip on your hand, squeezes when he notices your slack.
He only let's go when you hit the entrance to the dorms. Technically, you're not allowed in his dorm corridor. Usually, neither if you give a fuck, but Principal Wells is lingering just inside, and neither of you are in the mood to deal with him. Conveniently, he leaves once Nathan has ventured inside. You're no bloodhound, but you know you can smell booze as he walks by.
Another day drinker, it seems.
For a few minutes, you rest on the stairs in peace while worry overcrowds your grey cells. Thoughts of Kate Marsh, Mark Jefferson, and those poor beached whales float around your head, clashing together to make a horrifying jumble of noise in your head. You worry about Nathan, the strange weather events, and the storm plaguing him. It's hard not to wonder if there's some truth to his visions.
"So you're the bloodsucker that's gone after the Prescott kid." Hwa.
You don't recognize the man standing in front of you. You don't share any classes with this guy as far as you are aware. "Pardon?" You chirp. It's the only word you can spit out in your stupor.
"The punk you were just holding hands with," the guy repeats. "Don't play coy with me."
The jacket he's wearing is a letterman, proudly displaying Blackwell's name. He must be a football player. The guy puts his foot on the stairs; it lands right between yours. Uncomfortable, you scoot back a stair. Where is Nathan when you need him?
"How much does he pay you to open your legs for him, hm?" You don't like where this is going. Your voice has become lost in your throat. It barely makes a sound when you try to tell him to fuck off. God, not now. Anytime but now.
"Leave me the fuck alone," the words tumble out of your mouth, louder than intended, but God does it feel good to get them out there.
"You're getting defensive," the offending foot goes up another stair, and fuck is it infuriating. "He must be paying you then. Tell me how much, and I'll get off your case."
There's something about the way he leans down to look you in the eye that sets you off. You have 99 problems that you can't fix right now, but God fuck can you fix this one. In one swift motion, you're surging onto your feet, hands find the unnamed man's shoulders, and you shove him away with everything you've got.
The force of it is enough to knock you off your feet; you slip and hit the bottom stair hard. But the guy in front of you falls harder, and the pain of your landing isn't enough to qualm the satisfaction you feel when the guy smacks his head against the concrete.
"Are you fucking serious?" He howls, in no time at all; he's sitting up, glaring daggers that pierce straight into your soul.
Around you, your classmates do nothing but stare. You're rather annoyed that even Taylor is just standing there. And here you thought you had allied with her.
You watch helplessly as the man stands back up, towers above you with his hulking frame. You may be stronger than you look, but you're smart and know that you stand no chance against this guy.
"No way," when had Nathan come back out? "You, again?"
He's in between you two in a second, slams the much larger guy back with a considerable amount of force. "Don't you know how to mind your own goddamn business?" Nathan's hand wanders down to the edge of his open jacket, flicks it open for a brief second.
That singular motion changes the atmosphere completely. All you can see is the whites of the guy's eyes grow larger. He runs his tongue along his bottom lip, bobs his head. "Alright."
The glares continue, but he backs down.
What just happened?
Blue eyes peer at you over a familiar shoulder. Nathan's mouth doesn't move, but his eyes ask you a million and one questions. It takes you a moment to collect yourself, all too confused about what just happened. The walk back to the truck is dead silent. If you squint, you think you can see steam coming out of Nathan's ears.
He tosses you the keys, getting into his truck without a word.
You only speak because you don't know where he wants to go now. One can only push off the question for so long; you break five minutes into the drive. "Where to Cap'n?"
Nathan takes a long drag of his joint, blows the smoke out the window. At least he's kind enough not to hotbox while you're driving. "Do you remember how to get to my place?"
"I can try to find my way there?" You offer.
"Amuse me." Another drag.
You've only ever driven past Nathan's home a handful of times; the search for it isn't the easiest. The signs make for a dead giveaway, though. You'll be damned if his house isn't on Prescott Drive.
The driveway is long and winding, on a gentle incline that gradually flattens the longer you go. You stop the truck just before the road opens up. Where do you park?
As if he's read your mind, Nathan reaches above your head to press a button clipped onto the sun visor. The light flashes green, and a door opens on the far end of the garage.
"Welcome to The Prescott Estate," he lazily announces, tosses his joint out onto the grass.
You're thankful that you manage to park the truck without fucking anything up. You get the feeling that the drywall in the garage costs more than your tuition. On the bright side, Nathan's truck is the only one in the garage. Nobody is home, as far as you can tell.
"My old bastard is out on some business venture," he explains to you as you follow him into his home like a lost puppy.
You find yourself in utter awe at how beautiful the house is once you're inside. It's not massive like you'd imagined it might be, but it's elegantly decorated. A charming mix of gold and white make up the house's color palette, hand-painted patterns adorning the walls. Nathan's family doesn't eat in the kitchen; they eat in a grand dining room, complete with a sparkling chandelier that you don't want to know the price of.
"I'm too poor to be standing in this house," your comment earn a snicker from your richer companion.
Nathan turns to face you all of a sudden. "Kiss me."
"Huh?" You feel your eyes go wide.
"Kiss me," he repeats.
He makes no effort to meet you halfway, forcing you to take matters into your own hands. Your arms wrap around his neck, pulling him down to meet your lips. He hums into it, warm hands coming down to hold your wist. You intend it to be a little peck. Nathan intends to make it more, though, chases your lips when you pull away, never once lets you get away.
Nathan's lips mold into yours so perfectly; it's like you were made to do nothing but kiss each other. There's a comfortable warmth blossoming in your belly, roaring to life when those big hands push you back against the table, hoists you up until you're sitting on the edge.
Your legs fall open, and he's in between them in an instant, firm hand coming down to grip your thigh as he does. Teasing, you nip at his bottom lip. You barely catch it, a little 'hmph' of amusement, and then his tongue is caressing your lips so gently that it makes your head spin. His tongue is hot, tangling with yours the moment you part your lips. He tastes like cinnamon.
The need for air overcomes your desire to keep kissing him; the feeling must be mutual because you pull away at the same time, pink-cheeked and panting. A thin trail of saliva connects your lips until Nathan's tongue swipes out and breaks it away.
"Not that I'm complaining because I'm certainly not," you murmur, fingertips winding into his hair, "but what triggered this now?"
"You have no idea how long I've dreamed about defacing my father's precious dining room like that," his wet lips press a small peck against yours.
You can't help the giggle that leaves you. "You're high."
You get the feeling that he wants more, to go further, but his flickering gaze tells you that he isn't ready for that yet. You're not sure if you're prepared for that either, never mind for it to be in the damn dining room.
If whatever this is continues, you get the feeling that day will come eventually.
Gently, he lets go of your thigh and guides you off of the table. Faintly, you hear the garage door opening. Someones home. Nathan grabs your hand, and like a couple of idiots, you run up the stairs. His room is on the farthest end of the house; a golden plaque proudly displays his name on the door. You two disappear behind it, falling in a clumsy heap on his massive bed.
"Who could be home?" You laugh, pushing him off of you.
"Probably my father, world's biggest killjoy," Nathan gets up to lock the bedroom door, giving you the chance to look around.
It doesn't match the rest of the house. The walls are a pale gray, blackout curtains hang in front of two massive windows, pulled apart to let a little sunshine in. Framed photos elegantly decorate the walls, a mix of Nathan's photography and abstract paintings that highly resemble the emotion you find in his pictures.
"Did you paint these?"
"All of 'em," he climbs back onto the bed, hovering over you with a smirk that sends a shiver down your back.
Nathan settles onto his forearms, lips brushing against yours but not entirely closing the gap. You don't recall shutting your eyes, but you find yourself peeling them open, blurrily catching a playful gaze.
"Quit teasing," you grumble. Then, when Nathan doesn't comply right away, your hand finds its way back into his hair, guiding him down to meet your lips.
He gasps against your mouth, smiles into your kiss. Teeth clack together with a soft noise; your free hand is gliding over his shoulder blades, fingertips pressing into his back. Nathan groans cups your face with one hand as his lips gently caress your own, properly now.
It's so much softer than the one you shared in the dining room, but your breath is already running ragged, the heat in your belly surging into a wildfire. It's you who decides to raise a knee, you who knocks it against his hip until he's comfortably settling between your legs. The kiss grows dark, leaves you no room to catch up as a hot tongue delves into your mouth, explores you until he knows every crevice of you.
Your back arches as you lean up, chasing his tongue into his mouth as you decide you're tired of being explored. It's your turn to gasp as teeth nip at your sensitive tongue, reminding you of who it is you're with. You lean into it greedily, head spinning as your tongues tangle together in the messiest of ways.
Nathan pulls away first, panting heavily as he gazes down at you with sparkling blue eyes. "Fuck." His voice has got that deep, gravelly tone to it again, making you shiver.
With his guard down, you're able to push him over and flip your positions, straddling his hips. There's a delicious ache blooming in your thighs, just from the way his hips force them apart. Nathan grunts in surprise but otherwise does not attempt to protest.
You meet his quivering lips briefly, but kissing them isn't your main priority right now. Warm hands grip your hips as you kiss down his jaw, pausing to suck at the sensitive skin just behind his ear. The noise that leaves him is beautiful, low in his throat as he throws his head back against the pillow. His most sensitive area, you find, is where his collarbone meets his throat.
"Fuck, Y/N," he whines, gripping the back of your hair tightly. For a man so uptight, he sure is expressive like this. There's an overwhelming sense of pride, knowing you're the one who made him like this.
The two of you freeze.
"Nathan!" You don't recognize the voice, but it's a man's voice. So it must be his father.
"The closet," he whispers to you, sitting up, "hide in the closet."
Shaky feet carry you to his closet; Nathan follows close behind you, shuts the door once you're inside. You find yourself in a pile of stuffed whales tucked into the corner closest to the bedroom door.
Nathan's opening his door on the third knock. Through the wooden shades of the closet door, you can see almost everything. Hopefully, the same is not true for the Prescott's on the other side.
The conversation Sean Prescott has with his son is not pleasant. Sean berates him for coming home unannounced, bitches about Nathan receiving a C on an exam. It isn't hard to see where Nathan's anger comes from.
When Nathan opens the closet door, he doesn't look too pleased, eyes downcast as he looks for you in the closet. You assume you must look like a bit of a kid, wide-eyed, curled into his mass of whale plushies, holding the biggest one to your chest. He smiles when he sees you.
"And the world's most pleasant dad award goes to..." you whisper.
Nathan rolls his eyes at your antics. You carry the stuffed whale back to his bed, eagerly curling into his chest when he motions for you to do so.
"Every holiday, my mom symbolically adopts a whale for me, and they send her a stuffed animal," he explains, without provocation. "They've gotten out of hand."
Words are few and far between. Nathan's neck is still wet from your handiwork, a tiny red mark has formed on his collarbone, but that's all you can see. At some point, you're lulled to sleep by the sound of his breathing and the fingers tapping along your spine.
It's late when Nathan wakes you up. His father is gone again, and he looks much soberer than he was when you knocked out. He drives you back to Blackwell to the shitty tunes you put on his radio, holds your hand on the way into the dorms. You don't know how he does it, but a tiny whale, the size of your fist, appears in your room.
In the heat of everything, it completely slips your mind that there's going to be a Vortex Club party on Thursday. Nathan seems to have forgotten too.
"Victoria can handle it," he sleepily grumbles into the back of your neck. He's just woken up, but you get the feeling he barely slept. "We'll leave tonight."
To your dismay, Principal Wells comes looking for you. He takes you back to his office to grill you about what happened to you on Monday. He asks you if Nathan is at fault for your injury.
"A truck kicked up a rock, and it decked me in the face," it's the truth, but it sounds silly now that you say it out loud. Principal Wells takes hours to let you go. Analyzing over security footage frame by frame, calling Ms. Grant in after her class ends. Nathan texts you on and off, occasionally asking what's happening, others sending you green caterpillars.
Principal Wells keeps you there for over three hours.
The campus is still just as alive as it was when Principal Wells dragged you into that stuffy office. The resident skater boys are out and about, using slang that goes right over your head. A football is being passed back and forth. Elyssa is sitting on a bench with her nose deep in a novel. She's been carrying that book around a lot; you might just have to check it out for yourself.
It's hard not to miss the sound of Nathan yelling at someone for entering his dorm. You don't intend to go and check out the fight, not initially anyway. There's a heavy thump, a female gasps.
"What in the world?" You're changing courses immediately, jogging towards the boys' dorms.
You walk in on Warren on top of Nathan, Max, and her blue-haired friend, Chloe, you think her name is, stand off to the side like a pair of deer in headlights.
"You are so fucking dead!" Nathan howls, cradling his head in his hands. He reaches into his pocket, produces a silver pistol. Warren's kicking it out of his hands before Nathan can even begin to raise it.
Okay, he might have deserved that.
Warren keeps going, though. Nathan's already down. He's disarmed; there's no point in continuing. But Warren does, kicks Nathan as hard as he can. You expect Nathan to get up to defend himself, but he does no such thing, he lies there, and he takes it. It's hard to watch.
"Warren, back off," on their own, your feet begin to move. Warren doesn't back off, and much like you did with the unnamed man yesterday, you plant your palms on his shoulders and shove him off of Nathan. Warren dares to look shocked.
"He's down already. Knock it off," you bark, pushing to create distance between the two men. Blue-haired punk girl goes for the gun. Using your foot, you nudge the pistol towards you, away from her, and scoop it up. It's cold in your hand, has the weight of one of your textbooks.
The mere act of holding the weapon has your blood pressure spiking. In the back of your head, your conscience reminds you the gun itself is not dangerous; it's the person holding it. Right now, you're the only person you trust with it.
Max, your lord, and savior, steps in before Warren can find room to argue. "Hey...come on." It's not much, but Warren backs down rather quickly.
The metal of the gun is cold against the sensitive skin of your hip as you tuck it into your waistband, concealing it from prying eyes. This must be what Nathan used to scare your favorite heckler off yesterday.
Below you, Nathan tearfully mumbles words you can't quite make out. When had he started crying?
"Nathan..." your knees hit the ground a little too hard, your concern for the brunette easily overrides the pain.
"Stop..." he rolls away from you, bruised face hidden in trembling hands, "sorry..."
The Chloe girl makes a comment you don't hear, don't care to give any attention to. With gentle hands, you take Nathan by his shoulders and pull him up off of the ground. It takes everything in you to haul his weight off the ground, but you manage. Getting him down the hallway is a little easier. Never once does he lift his head.
In the safety of Nathan's bed, you bring his shivering body into your arms and just hold him. Whatever just happened seems to have struck a nerve. Hot tears land in the patch of skin where your collarbone meets your shoulder. His arms make their way around you, squeezing tight, making it just a little difficult to breathe.
"You're okay," the words are murmured into soft hair, freehand carding through the long strands.
It's faint, hidden under his breath, but the quiet chant of "one, two, three" pricks your ears.
"How fucked up do I look?" Watery blue eyes peer up at you from where his head rests on your chest.
You have to lift his head a little to get a better look. A cherry red bruise has formed on his right eye and cheek; there's a similar, lighter one under the left eye as well. His bottom lip is split open, leaving an angry red mark on the soft flesh that you've come to love. There's no telling how bad his ribs are.
"Your face has certainly seen better days," your thumb swipes at his busted lip. "Do your ribs hurt?"
"Will you let me look at them?" There's genuine concern laced in your voice. A few well-placed kicks can easily break a rib or two.
He hesitates, stares hard at you from under long eyelashes. "Fine." He moves at a snail's pace, signature jacket dropping from his shoulders. The white vest comes next, long fingers working extra slow to pop each button out. Below the vest is just a plain black shirt. It dawns on you that you've never seen him without the vest.
Nathan practically rips the shirt off his body, abruptly revealing the slender, milky white frame that hides underneath. Eye contact is near impossible to make.
"You don't have to be nervous around me, you know," this is such a new side of him; you wonder if anyone else has ever seen him like this. If you're the first.
He turns his head away, facing the couch. "Shut up." Still Nathan Prescott, though.
His skin is impossibly soft under your touch, almost distracting you from the concern at hand. Dark, plum-colored bruises have already formed along his upper ribs; there's a clear shoe imprint on the left side. Nathan's stomach is much better than the rest of his body, discolored by a few pale red marks.
Nathan watches your every move, speaking only with his eyes and the occasional disgruntled noise. The way your nails drag against his skin makes him twitch under your touch, squirming when your fingers fall into the gaps of his prominent ribs.
"Does it hurt?" He shakes his head at your words.
You move to stand, drawing the forgotten pistol from your pocket. It's left a visible imprint on your skin. You're not too eager to keep it on you, choosing to place it just inside of Nathan's bedside drawer.
A warm hand slips under your shirt, thumb swiping over the imprint on your hip. Nathan's got that look in his eye.
"Don't tell me you're into gunplay," you groan, shaking your head.
The corners of Nathan's lips quirk up. "What if I am?" His hand travels up, nails dragging up and against your spine. Your back arches, squirming away from the touch.
Resistance is futile when firm hands grab your hips, drag you into his lap. You don't need to be told to kiss him, dipping your head down to meet soft, waiting lips. It's is the first kiss you've shared since yesterday. Yet Nathan's breath is already running ragged, hands already running up the back of your shirt.
You've got him by the back of the neck, keeping him in place as your tongue dips into his mouth. His lips fall open, hot tongue dancing with yours in the wettest of kisses. You catch yourself kissing him harder, deeper, hungry for everything he has to give you. His hips roll up into yours, something hard, unfamiliar, pressing into your core, and you gasp into his mouth, nails raking down his unclothed back.
"Meow," he teases, "bring out the claws, baby."
He shifts under you, and then your back is hitting the mattress. The room is impossibly cold without him there; you're reaching out for him before you've even registered that he's moving. And then he's there, hips slotted between yours as his lips claim yours, and every one of your senses are clouded with Nathan, Nathan, Nathan.
He presses into you again, groans when your nails properly bite into his shoulders. Like a thread, you unravel underneath of him, gasping when his lips briefly find the sensitive skin of your neck, nipping when he's done toying with the spot.
"Fuck, the things you do to me," he murmurs, pushing your hair out of your face.
Experimentally, you roll your hips up into his, and he moans, high in his throat, eyelids fluttering like the wings of a butterfly.
"Don't dish out what you can't take," he warns, but his hips are already beginning to grind into yours.
"I should be saying the same to you," you gasp. God grinding like this shouldn't feel as good as it does; it's not fair. "I don't even know what we are right now."
Nathan scoffs, his nose bumping into yours. "I'm literally between your legs, and you want to have this conversation now?"
"My timing is impeccable, isn't it?"
"Well," he pecks your lips, "I can be anything you want me to be."
"So what if I want you to be my boyfriend?"
"Then I'll be your boyfriend," another kiss, "and I'll be the luckiest Prescott who ever graced the Earth."
In your wildest of dreams, you had never expected to find yourself here, with Nathan Prescott settled between your legs as he whispers sappy phrases against your lips.
"Boyfriend," you repeat, primarily to yourself.
Nathan smiles against your lips, "boyfriend."
He rolls his hips against yours one last time. "As much as I want to fuck you senseless," his words bring heat into your cheeks, you can see his reddening as well, "I want to wait."
"Waiting to find a private yacht?" You joke, settling further into his bed as he lays down on top of you. It's a comforting weight.
"I wanna take my time with you," his hand rubs idly at your waist, "I don't want to mess this up."
"You're full of surprises, Prescott," he's so warm, so comfortable against you. It's like you were made for each other, perfectly sculpted to fit like puzzle pieces.
"What I'm not going to take my time with is making sure everyone knows you're mine."
"Not if I do it first."
"Is that a challenge?"
Before you know it, your eyes are fluttering open. The room is dark. Nathan is still nestled on top of you, lightly snoring into your neck. The party must have already started because you can hear a rhythmic thumping in the distance. There's something else, though.
A rattling just outside the door. It's faint, but you can hear it.
"Nathan," you whisper, gently shaking the sleeping boy.
"Hm?" he readjusts, curls further into you like a needy cat.
"Do you hear that?"
His head is up surprisingly fast, barely open eyes squint at the door. The noise occurs again. Nathan stiffens in your arms. You're not too sure what it could be, but based on his reaction, you can't imagine that it's good.
"I want you to take my gun," he tells you, sitting up straight. "And I want you to hop out my window and hide." He's already beginning to throw his clothes on, his bruised and battered body disappearing under a black shirt.
You fail to move. Unsure. "What's wrong?"
"I think Mr. Jefferson is outside of my room," he whispers, "and he's not happy with me."
You don't need to be told again. Sleep leaves your body in an instant; your hands are already finding the gun. The cold metal burns your warm skin, and you can't bite back the hiss that leaves your lips.
"There's already one in the chamber, fifteen in the magazine." You don't want to know why he's suggesting you take his gun. The thought of having to use it chills you to the bone.
Words leave you. You say nothing as you push his blinds away and open the window. God, when had it gotten so cold outside? You regret wearing a t-shirt today. A gust of wind enters the room, wrapping chilly fingers around your already stinging skin.
One last glance at Nathan reveals all of your thoughts to him.
He produces a duplicate of his jacket, drapes it around your shoulders like a cape. The jacket is oversized on you, the sleeves reach down to your fingertips, but it's warm, and that's all you need.
"What about you?" You ask. The door shakes.
"I'll be fine," he pushes you to the window, "go."
You land behind one of the many bushes in front of the dorms, heart high in your throat as it pounds away. There's a sense of deja vu; this is the same bush you hid behind on the night you first met Nathan.
There isn't anywhere for you to go. You can't leave campus, not without Nathan, but you can't exactly go back into the dorms either. Nathan's jacket dangles from your sides, threatens to fall off your shoulder as you walk onto the central part of campus. You have to pop the middle button in to keep it secure.
Ultimately, you settle down next to the water fountain, the running water a soothing lullaby.
"'I'm just helping with chemistry homework'" you recognize that voice.
"Hi Dana," you suppose the jacket is a dead giveaway.
"Oh my god, that's Nathan's jacket." Ah, there's Juliet.
"Surprise," you mumble, cheeks heating up under their curious gaze.
Juliet sits down on the fountain next to you. "So, is he your boyfriend now?" She gives you a playful shove.
"Maybe," you crack. "Okay, yes, he is."
Dana squeals. "I knew it!"
Juliet looks less thrilled, already beginning to open her purse. She produces a twenty, which is quickly snatched up by her more excited counterpart.
"Did you two have a bet on us?" You squeak, eyes wide.
"It was hard not to make one," Dana batts her eyelashes at you. "You should see the way he looks at you in class."
Huh. Hadn't noticed that.
A shoe scuffs the ground behind you, off in the distance. It's Nathan, head down, walking in front of Mark Jefferson. He looks at you as he passes; you can't make out what expression he's wearing. Anger. Defeat. And something else. Fear?
Mr. Jefferson doesn't notice your trio. He's got his hand shoved in his oversized pocket, holding something large in there. Something solid.
Your hand is reaching for the keys in your pocket. "Do me a favor," you begin to say, transfixed on the two men walking into the parking lot, "if I suddenly disappear, tell them Mark Jefferson did it."
You're moving before the girls can protest, a one-person army with a mission you don't know the details of. You haven't a clue what you're going to do, just that you need to do something.
Your heart slams against your ribcage like an animal, threatening to burst out at any moment. You get to your car right as Mr. Jefferson pulls out of the parking lot. It's hard, catching up to the vehicle without appearing as if you're following them. You have to let several cars get between you, squinting to keep track of the vehicle.
On an old back road, it starts to rain, a torrential downpour that turns your entire windshield white. In the fleeting moments that it takes you to turn on your windshield wipers, Mr. Jefferson's car has disappeared.
You hit your breaks, stopping in the middle of the road. "Where did they go?"
They were just here. Where could they have gone? They couldn't have kept going down the road. You would still be able to see the taillights.
The storm rapidly worsens as you drive up and down the road. You can't see. No matter how slow you drive, you can't figure out where they could have gone. The windshield wipers are on their highest setting, but they're no match for the rain. Lightning strikes a tree in front of your car, illuminating everything around you for just a few seconds.
You see it.
An old, battered barn that has undoubtedly seen better days resides off in the distance. There is no road leading to it, except for a few tire-like patches of mud in the grass. There's no way your little car will go up that without getting stuck, but it's the only place they could have gone. So you guide your vehicle over onto the side of the road, just before the ditch begins, and put it in park.
Reaching into the back seat, you feel around blindly for a blanket, anything to protect you from the freezing rain. Your hand brushes against a smooth, curved handle. It's impossible to tell what it is without light, so you reach up to turn on the interior lights.
It's the umbrella.
"Nathan, you fucker," you pull it into the front seat, pulling off the velcro which holds it shut. There's no telling how he managed to sneak it in here.
As you turn off the car and get out, you become painfully aware of the gun in your waistband. Nathan didn't warn you of any safety; you can only assume that it's ready to fire at any time. You don't appreciate that thought.
The wind blows hard against your umbrella, getting underneath and tugging with a relentless force. The umbrella is worth its weight in gold; it doesn't so much as budge. Your shoes quickly become caked with mud as you walk towards the barn; your tires wouldn't have fared well here.
Around you, the storm cackles. A furious fist of thunder strikes the ground, shakes you back into reality. Right. Mr. Jefferson just took your boyfriend into an old barn, and your boyfriend was scared that he gave you his weapon.
This should be a walk in the park.
The doors to the barn are wide open, revealing a familiar car parked inside. It's Jefferson's. Inside, there's a faint white light coming from the ground. An entrance to a bunker, you realize.
You place the umbrella off to the side, freeing up your hands to hold the gun instead. Your palms tremble as you hold it, dominant index finger dances near the trigger, settling next to it but never curling around it. Not ready for that commitment yet.
One step at a time, you enter the underground bunker. Mr. Jefferson is talking, repeating the same phrase over and over. You can't make out what it is. At the bottom, the door sits ajar, even brighter light seeping through.
Your breath echoes against the concrete walls; every footstep is too loud, like a scream in the quietest of rooms. The blood in your face has long since drained, leaving you numb and lightheaded. Outside, the wind howls like a hungry wolf.
"Leave me out of this, Mark!" Nathan shouts from inside. "I don't want anything to do with this fucked up shit!"
A sharp smack of skin against skin follows. "Do not disobey me, Nathan," Jefferson seethes, "how do you think your father would feel if this got out, hm? How would y/n feel, knowing they're whoring out to a monster?"
Wow. You're almost insulted yourself.
Using your free hand, you push the door open, and of course, it has to squeak. You freeze.
"What more do you want from me?" Nathan cries, breathing hard and heavy. "Is it money? Is it drugs? What the fuck is it?"
With Nathan's yelling as a mask, you push the door open just enough to slip inside. The bunker is entirely black and white. Charcoal walls, white tiled floors. Pictures of women litter the walls, frightened women who don't look entirely conscious, mentally not there at the taking of their photos. The hair on your arms stands straight up.
Creeping down the hallway, you curl your finger around the trigger.
"Oh, Nathan," Jefferson's voice is so calm that it's condescending, "it's too late to back out now, buddy."
It seems you are not the only armed person. Jefferson bears a gun identical to yours; the barrel pointed down at a cowering Nathan Prescott.
You don't know what to do. You can't distract him. No, he'll turn the gun on you and turn it into a standoff. Terrified, you raise the weapon, directing it towards your photography teacher.
"I'm not helping you anymore," Nathan spits. "I'm fucking done. Do you hear me?"
Jefferson's pistol whips him across the face. "Do not disobey me!"
His finger is wrapped around the trigger.
Without a second thought, you squeeze the trigger, and the gun fires with a loud bang. Your first shot misses.
The second and third do not.
Ears ringing, you emerge from the corner, both hands pointing the gun towards the ground. Jefferson is howling from the floor, clutching a hip that you can only imagine is shattered. Next to him, Nathan appears out of it, staring distantly at you and his weapon.
"Whores can shoot, apparently." Is the only words that can come out of your mouth. Your brain is fried.
Nathan's moving, rushing you like a football player.
White-hot flames explode in the side of your forearm, but it's not from Nathan tackling you. The sound of a bullet leaving the chamber hits your ears. You don't feel the way your head smacks the tile, the pain of Nathan landing on top of you. The gun slips from your fingers, landing next to you with a clatter.
"Don't even think about it," Jefferson threatens, weapon aimed at the both of you.
Everything goes black.
It takes you a second to realize the power has just gone out, that you're not dead. Cold hands are grabbing you, fingers dig into your fresh wound, and you can't hold back the shriek that forces its way out of your mouth. A hand clamps down over your mouth, the other hauls you back, dragging you. You're helpless, squirming and kicking as your body is hauled away.
A door slams just as you're able to bite down on the offending hand.
"Nathan?" You can't see shit, but you know that voice.
"Come on," he whisper-shouts. "We only have a few seconds."
Hobbling to your feet, you hold onto him as he leads you up a set of stairs. Oh. He's dragged you out.
The umbrella is just where you left it. It's tossed over your shoulder haphazardly as you begin to run, Nathan acting as your only guide. Your head is spinning. Blood pours down your arm like a waterfall.
"My keys are in my back pocket," you tell him, approaching your car on the street. "I don't think I can drive."
His hand is in your pocket in an instant. Not exactly how you pictured him grabbing your ass for the first time.
The two of you pile into the car, Nathan's sliding the key into the ignition and turning it before you've even shut the door. Obedient, your car starts. The roads have already grown even worse. That tornado vision Nathan's been having, you're beginning to realize, has some truth behind it.
"I don't think we're going to be able to get out of town." It feels strange to be in the passenger seat.
"Not with that arm; we're not." Nathan's flooring it, tires squeal as the car takes off.
Neither of you can find any more words. Your arm is throbbing; it's impossible to think of anything else. In the dim light of the car, you can tell that it's just a graze. Still, it burns like a bitch.
God, when had you and Nathan already gotten to Blackwell?
You pick up the forgotten umbrella from the floorboard with your uninjured arm. "It took us a literal life and death situation to use this."
Around you, the storm is rapidly growing worse. A tornado siren cries in the distance and that spiral in the distance certainly appears to be the offending twister.
You count to three and open the door.
Together, you and Nathan flee the car, holding onto one another for dear life as you all but fly to the dormitory. It's the only building at Blackwell with a basement. The only place you stand a chance at surviving. The wind has other ideas, blowing against you so hard that you fear you may fly away—the umbrella groans under the pressure.
The entire student body of Blackwell is down in the basement, as you quickly learn. The power has long since gone out, the only light in the basement provided by flashlights and cellphones.
"What in the world are you two doing?" Hayden all but yells upon your rather unceremonious entry.
"I don't want to talk about it," Nathan snarls. There's a space in the back corner, and he takes it. You're too exhausted to argue about where you'll sit, following after him like a shadow. You huddle into his side, shivering from the cold rain. You hate it, but it's the only thing reminding you that you're both alive.
A warm, heavy blanket drops over the both of you.
"Just when I think this day can't get any stranger." You recognize that voice.
"Hello to you too, Victoria," Nathan groans.
Under the privacy of the blanket, his arm snakes around you. You sink into him fully, injured arm cradled in your chest.
He and Victoria speak some, Nathan catches her up to speed on what happened. He leaves out the part about being blackmailed and what happened to Rachel. You figure that he hasn't told her about who Jefferson truly is, not yet, anyway. She does find you a medkit when she sees the torn flesh of your arm. It's not much, but she and Nathan make quick work temporarily dressing your wound.
Outside, the storm roars as it tears Arcadia Bay apart bit by bit. The three of you huddle close into the corner as Blackwell Academy trembles under the tornado's wrath. The sound is so eerie. You always imagined tornadoes would sound like a loud roar, and it does, but once it gets close enough, it sounds like a demented freight train.
The storm lasts long into the night and the early hours of the morning. When it does subside, Arcadia Bay is gone.
The sun is up, warm sunlight bathing the path of destruction left upon the bay. Buildings that once stood tall and proud lay in crumpled heaps, trees who have stood for longer than Arcadia has existed are uprooted, lying across roads, roofs of cars, and on buildings. Debris reaches as far as the eye can see.
Blackwell Academy is one of the few buildings left standing. The roof is essentially destroyed, a tattered mess that will take days, if not weeks to repair. The water fountain is gone, as is the gymnasium. A large, heavy branch lays on top of Nathan's truck, denting the roof with its weight. Your little car, albeit muddy, seems to be one of the lucky few who were unharmed.
"Have any more visions, cap'n?" You say, bewildered by the sight in front of you.
Nathan shakes his head, reaches out to hold your hand. "Not yet."
Clean-up begins immediately. There isn't much of the town left, you'll never truly know how many lives were lost, but so many more have miraculously survived beneath the rubble. Blackwell Academy temporarily converts into a makeshift cleanup crew, offering class credit and free tuition for all able-bodied students who help clean up the Bay.
The last thing you expect is for Nathan to join in, but on the first full day of cleanup, he makes an appearance. It quickly becomes clear that Arcadia is going to need more than just a high school of students to clean it up. As a collective, the students of Blackwell begin an online campaign, asking for volunteers to help recover Arcadia Bay. The campaign doesn't do well, not at first.
Two weeks in, Nathan is waking you up with a smug grin playing across his lips. "I have something to show you," he grins, tugging your sleepy frame to the window.
Outside, a mass of people has gathered in front of Blackwell, bringing with them trucks and supplies. You're still not sure how he did it, but he broke into the Prescott social media accounts and used them to boost the campaign into the public light.
Recovering Arcadia is a grueling process. The weather is quickly becoming colder as Winter approaches. The ache in your neck has become a permanent affliction, nights you once spent sneaking out with Nathan are now spent curled into a king-sized bed watching movies that you fail to stay awake for.
You often find yourself questioning how long you can continue this. How long you can keep running yourself into the ground for the sake of a town you barely know. But then you see the community that has formed around you, how hard Nathan is working to use his family name to repair the town, and you realize you wouldn't have it any other way.
"Is your dad still upset with you for breaking into his Twitter?" You find yourself asking one evening, arms full of splintered wood as you carry it to the truck.
Nathan hoists a heavy chunk of metal from the ground, forearms flexing with the weight as he follows you. He's put on some muscle since the cleanup started. It looks good on him. "He's pissed off about everything."
"Isn't he always pissed?" Victoria's standing in the truck bed, pushing the junk back as far as she can to create some more room there. She's been one of the key organizers for this whole debacle, you really appreciate that she made the call to put you three in a team together.
"He's starting his own campaign to buy all the land he can and turn it into real estate," Nathan grumbles, chucking the metal into the truck with a heavy bang that makes Victoria swear at him. "It's Prescott v Prescott right now."
He's told you about this a few times. Sean wants to take advantage of the destruction by forcing out help and buy up the land from frustrated owners. Nathan wants to rebuild Arcadia Bay and restore it to its former glory and then some. The presence of the campaign has directly put a hole in Sean's plan.
"I'm sure the media will listen, if you open up to them," Victoria suggests as you unload your armful of wood onto the bed.
"Can't buy land if you piss off its current owners," you giggle.
He does it, the next day. Appearing in an interview with the local news station that's been giving him over an interview hell for months. The media takes the story by storm, slamming Sean Prescott for his attempts at thwarting the recovery of the town. It garners your campaign more attention, volunteers flood in from all corners of the state.
By the time Christmas has come around, there is not a speck of debris in Arcadia. Principal Wells practically chases all of you out of the dorms, insisting that each and every one of you go home for the holidays and rest with your families. You go home immediately, thrilled to finally see your family after all that has happened. after Christmas, Nathan makes it a point to show up and meet the people who raised you. He's a total suck-up, an angel.
On a foggy January morning, you're awoken by police knocking at your door, and Nathan is taken in for questioning. Mr. Jefferson, whom you assumed had passed in the storm, was alive and well, seeking to press charges against Nathan.
The media is nasty, chasing you and Victoria around and demanding answers out of the both of you. Nathan tells the truth of what happened, you back him up wholeheartedly, bearing the scar to prove it. Your scarred forearm is a prominent part of the case, it's hard to lie when you have the proof of an injury like that.
Maybe it's just luck, the influence of the Prescott name, or divine intervention. Or maybe it's because the community rallied behind Nathan, having caught sight of the man Nathan has become, knows how much he has done to help the town. Somehow, Nathan avoids all charges, and Mr. Jefferson receives 25 years to life for the murder of Rachel Amber and the violation of so many other students.
The court does order that Nathan begins attending therapy once a week, for the next two years. He doesn't like to admit it, but you can tell that it does help him in the end. He gets proper medication, the right tools for coping with his anger issues. Who would have thought? After the trial comes to a close, Nathan's estranged Grand Father reaches out to aid in your campaign to save Arcadia. It's a small act that warms your heart.
For Spring Break, he takes you to meet his sister, and she's every bit as lovely as you imagined her to be. Nathan brings his polaroid camera, takes so many photos that your dorm walls are surely going to be covered in them when you get back home.
You're curled together in a plush hotel bed, taking in your last full day of vacation before you have to return to Arcadia Bay. It's been a long day of doing absolutely fucking nothing. A movie plays on the television, some Netflix fantasy Nathan found whilst surfing channels. It looks like a good movie, but you're more interested in tracing the veins of Nathan's hand.
"Hm?" You can't be bothered to lift your head. Whatever it is he wants to tell you, will have to be mumbled into your hair.
"I love you."
Three little words that you'd never expected Nathan to say.
Flames burst in your cheeks. Bashful, you kiss his hand. "I love you too."
Before you know it, you're up on a stage, and Principal Wells is handing you a diploma. A photo of you displays on the projector, the one Nathan took of you on the rooftop that night. You don't expect to receive any applause, but the entire room erupts into it. Your heart is soaring.
This is it; this is really it.
There's a final Vortex club party after the last student walks the stage. It was originally outdoors, but some unplanned rain led to the party being held in the same unfamiliar church you graduated in. Proper security has been instilled into the parties now, drink covers handed out to everyone who attends.
You and Victoria share a drink together. You've earned the right to a little alcohol.
"I'm looking forward to having you as a next-door neighbor," she smiles, around a cherry that came with her drink. "You're nice to have around, Y/N."
"I can't believe we're staying in Arcadia," your own drink is bitter in your mouth, making you cringe. Blargh. "And to think we were dreaming of ditching this town over Spring Break."
Victoria shakes her head, smiling at something behind you. "Sometimes home is in the place you least expect."
"Care to ditch this shitty party, nerd?" You don't need to turn around to know who's hands are on your hips, whose lips are ghosting the shell of your ear.
"But of course," you say, in the poshest accent you can muster. "Take me away, good sir."
"You hang out with my sister for three days, and suddenly you act just like her," Nathan gripes. Victoria's waving you off, already turning to Taylor as Nathan guides you away with a gentle tug of the hand.
By the coats, Nathan produces an all too familiar umbrella. He opens it when you're ready and guides you out into the chilly May air. You can see all of Arcadia from up here. It's far from rebuilt, but Nathan is confident that it will be repaired one day.
"Hm?" You're leaning against his warm shoulder, dreamily staring off into town. Construction has already begun, you can't wait to see what Arcadia Bay becomes.
Nathan's arm wraps around your waist, drawing you into a familiar chest. "Thank you for putting up with my stubborn ass," he nuzzles a cold nose into your hair, "you're the best thing to ever happen to me, y'know?"
"Look who's gone sappy."
"I hate you."
"Love you too, Nate," you peer up at him, meeting with a fond gaze. "I'm glad I kept running into you."
He grins at your words, breaking out into a big, goofy smile that is triggered by more than just your words. Nathan doesn't tell you right away, but you can see the gears turning in his head, formulating something.
"Why do I get the feeling that you're planning something devious?" You chirp as the two of you begin walking to your car.
"How do you feel about joining me for a secret rendezvous in my father's precious dining room?"