The power of observation can do more than you think
Reuben jumped in alarm as Luca let out a scream, fear overtaking his body. Everyone else was was watching Luca with wide eyes as he curled into a ball and continued to scream.
“Someone do something!” Oscar exclaimed, sounding just as scared as Reuben felt. What are we supposed to do?!
Reuben swallowed, struggling to think. Don’t panic don’t panic don’t panic- Ace grabbed a glass from the table and dashed to the bathroom. He’s probably getting water…
“I’m going to call an ambulance!” Jasmin exclaimed, pulling up a screen from his wristband.
“N-no, d-d-don’t!” Luca suddenly yelled, making Jasmin freeze.
“Luca, what’s wrong?!” Reuben asked, trying to keep his freaking out under control. Luca curled up tighter. “I-I’m on fire!” He shouted.
“B-but you aren’t-” “You can’t see it!” Luca managed to reply before shouting out a string of curses.
“I don’t understand-” “It’s a disease.” Ace appeared back at the table with a glass of tap water. “He needs the medication for it.”
How Ace was being so calm during this situation baffled Reuben. How is he- Then Reuben realized that he wasn’t just calm. He was being serious.
“W-where do we get the medication?! He needs it now!” Reuben looked at Luca, beyond panic at this point.
Okay, Reuben, think… he said he was on fire, but you can’t see it… fire… how do you get rid of fire… His eyes slid to the window.
“Water!” He whispered, quickly grabbing the glass that Ace had brought and splashing it onto Luca. For a moment, he thought it had worked. But a few seconds later, Luca began thrashing around again. What do I do now?!
Reuben looked outside again. We need to get him outside, it’s the only other option we have!
“Help me get him up!” Reuben said, standing and trying to think of the least painful way to move him. Ace seemed to be thinking the same thing.
Reuben took a deep breath. “L-Luca, hey, you’re going to have to stand for me, o-okay?” He said, putting his hand on the shaking boy’s shoulder. Luca glanced at him for a quick moment but began to shriek again before he could reply.
I need a better way to calm him down.
“Ace, go tell the staff not to worry,” Reuben said quickly, having noticed them starting to come over. “Just tell them- tell them…” He couldn’t think of anything to say. “Okay.” Ace nodded in understanding and dashed off.
Reuben bent down to Luca and took another deep breath. “Luca, do you think you can stand up?” He asked quietly, forcing his voice to remain stable.
Luca gave him a shaky nod before squeezing his eyes shut in pain.
This is bad.
Reuben carefully helped Luca sit up and put his arm around him to help him stand. The black-haired boy was shaking horribly as Reuben began to lead him to the door. He had stopped screaming, but Reuben could his jaw was clenched with all the strength that Luca probably had.
Finally, Reuben managed to get him outside. It was a matter of seconds before they were both completely soaked and Luca’s knees gave out on him.
“Whoa, hey-” Reuben caught Luca before he hit the ground and lowered him the rest of the way. “How do you feel?” He asked after a moment of silence between the two. Luca’s face looked terrified.
“B-better… the… fire’s gone.” The black-haired boy’s voice was so weak that Reuben barely heard it.
He let out a huge sigh of relief. Thank goodness…
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Reuben asked, just wanting to be sure. Ever since Luca had first introduced himself, Reuben had thought something was slightly off about him.
“Y-yeah… fine now, thanks to you.” Luca’s hair fell in front of his eyes.
Reuben turned as he saw the 4 others running out to where he and Luca were sitting. Jasmin bent down in front of Luca and held out his hand. “How many fingers am I holding up?” He asked half-jokingly, but concern was radiating off him in waves. Luca couldn’t seem to hold back a small smile at Jasmin. Oscar lightly smacked the blonde on the side of the head. “Give him some space, would you?”
Jasmin hurriedly apologized to Luca and backed up.
There was suddenly a small chime from Luca’s bracelet and he saw Ace pull his wrist away. The redhead put his hands in his pockets. “I gave you all of our phone numbers. Just in case,” He mumbled, shifting his gaze in another direction. Jasmin grinned. “It seems the cyborg has a heart after all,” he said, earning himself a karate chop on the top of his head.
“Owww~ Ace, that huuuuurt~!”
Luca laughed softly. Their antics seem to be cheering him up a little, Reuben thought to himself with a slight smile. But I still feel like something’s wrong.
“Okay, we should go back inside now or we’ll all catch colds,” Jasmin said, holding out his hand and watching the rain land in his palm.
“Except maybe Mr. Metalhead over here-” Whack.
They all went back into the cafe, Jasmin rubbing his head and Luca being supported by Reuben. Kalisha and the other staff members had towels waiting for the group when they came inside.
Jasmin shook out his hair with his hands before toweling it dry. Luca had to take his hair down before putting a smaller towel on his head and a larger towel around himself.
Reuben thanked the staff for the towels and put a small one on his head before sitting down at the table next to Luca and Rhydian. The writer was wringing out his beanie and his glasses were sitting on the table.
Oscar didn’t grab a towel on his way in, so he was already sitting at the table, his hair dripping with rainwater.
I should probably give him my towel-
“Oscar-chaaaan, you’re going to catch a cold if you don’t dry your hair~!” Jasmin said, taking his own towel and putting it on Oscar’s head. The bookworm didn’t get a chance to object as Jasmin began to dry the ********** hair.
Reuben forced back a laugh and tried to focus on the storm outside instead. It didn’t last long.
“Oi, Jasmin, cut it out, I can dry my hair myself!”
“Oscar-chan finally said my name~!”
Ace let out a sigh and separated Jasmin from Oscar, sitting in between them. “Thanks,” Oscar muttered to the cyborg, crossing his arms. Ace shrugged. “He’s right, by the way. You really will catch a cold if you don’t dry your hair.”
“Tch.” Oscar took the ends of the towel and pulled it tighter over his head.
Reuben glanced at Luca, wondering if he was going to be okay after what had happened earlier. Surprisingly, he had a smile on his face.
But there’s the possibility that it’s forced, Reuben thought to himself and he noticed Oscar giving Luca an unconvinced look. He seems to think that, too.
His brotherly mode switching on, Reuben put his hand on Luca’s shoulder and squeezed it lightly. Luca gave him a slightly confused look, but all Reuben could manage was a reassuring smile in return before looking to Jasmin.
“Aren’t you on your lunch break?” Surely he had gone over his limit of time by now, there was no way he hadn’t.
The blonde man shook his head. “Nah, I texted my boss and told him what was up before taking the rest of the day off.”
Oh no, I forgot to tell Moren what happened! Reuben’s face paled and he quickly pulled up the screen from his wristband.
13 missed calls.
27 text messages.
A feeling of dread chilled Reuben’s blood as he looked at the notifications. He’ll have my head for this when I get back…
Reuben pulled up Moren’s name in his contacts and hurriedly typed up a quick text so he knew that he wasn’t dead.
“Hey, guys, u-um… I think I should head back home, now. I-I… should take my medication,” Luca murmured, making everyone’s gaze swivel to him. Reuben wasn’t sure, but he could’ve sworn he saw Luca flinch.
“T-this was fun, though,” Luca added with a somewhat pained half-smile as he stood up. He pulled off the towels and put them neatly on his chair before turning to the group. He quickly bowed. “Thank you!” He exclaimed, before dashing out of the cafe. He had left money on the table for his order, too.
Reuben frowned. I feel uneasy.
“Aw man, I wanted to give him a hug~, ” Jasmin said with a pout, but Reuben could tell he was worried. Sure, they had only met him today, but it was sort of difficult not to worry about the kid. He looked underfed and tired. And again… I feel like something is definitely off about him.
Ace let out a sigh. “Alright, well, I think I should get going, too.” The redheaded cyborg stood up and stretched. “Make sure you hold on tight to your papers this time, kid,” Ace told Rhydian, tousling his light blue hair before beginning to make his way to the door. He too had left money on the table for Kalisha.
Rhydian sighed. “You know, I could’ve paid for everyone’s orders…” He trailed off with a frown. Oscar shrugged and put a few dollars on the table. “It’s only fair. Anyway, I gotta get going, my parents are probably worried about me and I need to run an errand for my mom-” “Not you too, Oscar-chan~!” Jasmin whined, grabbing the bookworm’s wrist.
Oscar glared at him and snatched his wrist away before looking to the rest of the group. “Thanks for this, I will admit it was fun.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Later, then,” He said, waving to them before pulling up his hood and exiting the cafe.
Reuben wasn’t surprised when Jasmin jumped up from his seat and chased after Oscar. “Oscar-chan waaaaaaait~! I didn’t give you a hug~!” Jasmin called. Reuben and Rhydian watched as Oscar glanced behind him and ran past the window with Jasmin close behind.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Oscar ends up getting a restraining order,” Rhydian commented with a laugh, pushing up his glasses. Reuben chuckled and nodded in agreement. Jasmin was definitely pushing his luck.
There was a chime from Reuben’s wristband and he saw that Moren had replied to his text. The dark blue haired boy sighed and stood up. “My brother is demanding that I head back to the clock shop, so I have to leave…” He mumbled, looking at Rhydian apologetically. The writer smiled. “That’s okay. Hope you don’t get scolded too much.”
Reuben laughed. “Yeah, I hope so too. Your writing was really good, by the way!” He grinned at Rhydian before grabbing the bag of screws and leaving the cafe.
Luca watched the light blue and green fish dance around the walls of his room as he struggled to keep his emotions under control. I will not cry. He had never been so humiliated in all his life. They saw him. They saw him have an attack.
Reuben’s face swam into Luca’s mind. He was the one who had managed to snap him out of it. How did he think to do that?
His wristband vibrated for what seemed like the millionth time and Luca felt a sudden urge to throw it at the wall. Anger and confusion swirled inside him in waves as he went over the events of the afternoon. It wasn’t fair. He had just met them, just bloody met them, and already he wanted to forget he ever did. It’s not even their fault.
A surging feeling of sickness went through Luca and he ran to the bathroom, vomiting for the second time that week. Every time something good happens I have to go and screw it up.
Luca splashed cold water on his face, soaking the sleeves of his shirt as he tried to calm himself down. You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay… Luca didn’t feel okay at all.
Wiping his face with a towel, he went back into his bedroom. His wristband started ringing again.
Finally, feeling exhausted and wanting everything to just shut up, Luca opened the screen from his wristband and looked at the name. Reuben.
Of course it’s Reuben.
Luca sat down against his bed and pressed the answer button. “Are you okay?” was the first thing Luca heard from the other end. Reuben’s voice sounded a bit panicked and guilt pricked the back of Luca’s mind as he debated between two responses to the question.
‘I’m fine’ was the more ‘I’m not fine but I’m going to say I’m fine because I want you to stop worrying and do something more worth your time than listening to me’ option. ‘No’ was the response Luca had been feeling for the majority of his life, but his pride and stubbornness was another thing on the line, there.
At least he cares enough to ask. I should tell him the truth.
In all honesty, Luca just didn’t have the strength to keep saying he was fine. Because it was a lie. He wasn’t fine. He was never really genuinely fine.
“No,” Luca croaked quietly and swallowed to stop the tears from coming. I. Will. Not. Cry.
“Do you need me to come over?” Reuben asked worriedly, surprising Luca. He’s barely known me for 7 hours and he’s probably already more worried about me than Aunt Nia.
Luca’s eyes flickered to the clock on his bedside table. 11:39 PM.
“N-no, I think I’ll be okay. B-besides, it’s way too late for you to go to that kind of trouble. T-thanks, though…” Luca murmured into the phone, mentally cursing at himself for stuttering. “Are you sure? I don’t want you to have to deal with whatever this is alone.” Luca could tell there was something behind his voice, but he couldn’t figure out what.
Swallowing again, Luca said, “Yeah, I’ll be okay on my own.” A lie. “D-don’t worry about me, I’ve dealt with stuff like this before,” He mumbled. More than you know.
There was a pause on the other end.
“If… if you say so. Just know I’m here if you need me, okay? Even if it’s at 3 in the morning.” Reuben’s words continued to confuse Luca. Whatever he says, I’d never wake him up that early for something I’m going through.
“Thanks, Reuben… I um… I should get to bed now. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Don’t be afraid to talk to me if you need someone to listen. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Luca hung up.
This time, he couldn’t stop the tears.