You let out a low moan as you struggled to open your eyes. The first thing you were aware of at that moment was the feeling of your head being pressed against what felt like a pillow and a dull, aching pain throughout your face. You were also able to detect that your nose was wrapped with something that felt like soft cloth. It took a few moments of you lying there quietly for you to finally realize what had happened. You had been in the gym playing the dreaded terror game known as basketball when you looked up to find the ball heading straight towards your face. You figured it must’ve knocked you unconscious, because you had no memory of the events that happened after you felt the ball make impact with your face.
You gritted your teeth as you once again attempted to open your eyes, squinting against the unbelievably bright light that filled them. Once you were able to get them to more or less focus, you propped your elbows up on whatever it was that you were lying on and feebly got into a sitting position, rubbing your bleary eyes with one hand. Looking around you, you realized that you were in the nurse’s office, sitting on one of the beds.
Just my luck, you thought in annoyance. Not only were you hit in the face by a sports object once again, but you were knocked unconscious and somebody probably had to carry you to the nurse because of your unawareness. How embarrassing.
When you lifted your head up to look across from you at some of a few generally empty seats, you could've sworn you almost had a heart attack when you saw Gilbert sitting in one of them, slouching forward as he stared down at his hands, which he was fiddling for quite some time.
“Ahhh!” you yelled, springing up in your seat so quickly that the back of your head hit the wall that was behind your bed. “Oh, crap...” you gasped in annoyance, rubbing the back of your head with slightly wide eyes as you stared at Gilbert. What the hell is he doing here!? You were aware of how much stuffier your voice sounded because of the cloth wrapped around your nose, but that was what concerned you the least at the moment.
At the sound of your outburst, Gilbert lifted his gaze from his hands so that it was able to meet your shocked one, and you could've sworn you were able to see a tiny smile form on his face. “Oh, you're awake,” he said with an unusually calm voice as he stood up from his seat and walked over to your bed.
“Wh-What are you doing!?” you gasped, looking up at him with wide eyes. “Why are you here? Why am I here? How long have you been sitting there? W-Wait...why are you walking over here? Go away! Why do you always have to try to be around—”
“_____, can you just shut up?” Gilbert yelled at you for the first time in what seemed like forever. Your instincts told you to shrink away in fear, but instead you forced yourself to fall silent and look up at him with irritated eyes. “Do you even know how annoying it is that whenever I try to talk to you, I can't go for more than five seconds without you interrupting me or just walking away?”
“Because no matter what, you won't understand that I want to be left alone!” you cried in anger. “No matter how many times you try to get my attention and I ignore you, you can't even get the hint that I just want to be—”
You were cut off from your sentence by the forceful insertion of something rough into your mouth, causing a muffled “Mmf!” to escape from you. You were instantly able to recognize the object as one of the cloths from the infirmary, and you let out a low growl as you crossed your arms and dropped your gaze down to the sheets.
“Maybe this will keep you quiet for at least a minute,” Gilbert said, causing the expression on your face to sink further into annoyance. A brief moment of silence passed between the both of you before he sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at his lap. “Look,” he began in a voice much calmer and quieter than a few seconds ago, “if you want to know how you got here and what happened after that accident in the gym, I can tell you.”
At that, you lifted your now expectant gaze to look up at him and removed the cloth from your mouth, setting it down on the sheets in front of you and leaning back so that your back was pressed against the pillow. “Sure, tell me.”
A few seconds of silence passed between the both of you, you staring at Gilbert with that same look of expectancy and him keeping his eyes fixed on his lap, before he finally lifted his gaze and shifted in place so that most of his body was more or less facing you. “Well...I could tell by the look on your face when you were called out to play that you didn’t want to go, and after seeing how you played in other sports and after I hit you in the face with a volleyball a few weeks ago, I admit that I was worried that you were going to get hurt in one way or another.”
“Oh, really?” you asked, finding it hard to believe that Gilbert, the one who had caused you so much pain for three whole years, was actually worried that you would've gotten hurt this time.
He nodded. “Yeah. Just let me finish. So anyway, I was watching the game and I knew how much you didn’t want to play but tried to be a part of the game with the way you were following everyone else on the court. When one of the guys threw the ball and it bounced against the rim of the hoop, I saw it heading towards you and I saw how you weren’t aware of it, so I yelled to you to watch out to try and get your attention and get you to notice the ball and save yourself.”
So he was the one who screamed to me right before I got knocked out...
“But I guess it was too late for you to realize you were about to get hit in the head with the basketball and save yourself,” Gilbert said a bit more quietly than before. “You were hit straight in the face and immediately fell to the ground. At first we thought you were just a little dazed and would get up in a few moments, but when you weren’t moving, we realized you were unconscious and some of us got into a panic. But before anyone else had the chance to do anything, I stood up from the bench and ran over to you. I picked you up and ran out of the gym to the infirmary while I carried you in my arms. You had a really bad nosebleed, so there had to be a cloth wrapped around your nose to stop the blood from getting everywhere. Then when you were given a bed, I sat across from you and waited for you to wake up until now.”
An awkward moment of silence passed between the both of you, during which Gilbert kept his gaze fixed on the floor and you were able to feel an unusual stirring in your heart once the full realization of the situation sank into you. He...carried me in his arms... You felt heat spread to your face as you pressed a hand to your cheek and drifted your gaze off to one side. Kind of like...how a hero saves the damsel in distress...
But you were instantly able to come back to your proper senses as you felt confusion and even a bit of anger spread through you. “But why did you even have to do that?” you asked bitterly while crossing your arms and staring down at the sheets. “Someone on the court could have taken me here. You didn’t have to prove to everyone that you were a ‘hero’ or whatever it was that you were trying to do.”
At that, Gilbert lifted his gaze and turned it to meet yours. You were a bit surprised to find it filled with a seriousness you had never seen before. “I didn’t do it for everyone else. Hell, I couldn't have cared less about what everyone else thought about me picking you up and carrying you to the nurse.”
“I did it for you,” Gilbert said sincerely. “I did it because I wanted to prove to you that I'm someone who you can trust, and that I have absolutely no intention of doing anything bad to you anymore.”
Oh, it’s just the usual. You felt a disapproving frown come to your face and you let out a sigh and hopelessly shook your head. “Look, I don’t think you understand completely why I want nothing to do with you anymore. I get that you're trying to make me think of you as a nice person, and I understand you're doing all you can to prove this to me. But...I just can't look at you as someone who I can be friends with. I've gotten used to your pain and torture so much that almost every image I get of you involves you being the one who inflicts all of this bullying on me. Even if I want to try and picture you as a good person, I can't. And besides, I'm still bitter about the fact that it took an attempted suicide for you to realize what you were doing to me was wrong. If maybe you decided to stop bullying me back in freshman year or something like that, I would've treated you more nicely. But now...I just can't trust you. After all, you would've kept on bullying me if it weren’t for my jumping off the roof of a building, so I have no reason to believe the two of us can ever be friends.”
When you lifted your gaze so that it was able to lock with Gilbert’s, you were able to see that the seriousness in his was replaced with disappointment. “_____...is there...anything I can do that will allow you to be friends with me?”
“Oh god, don’t tell me you're upset.” You slightly cringed.
The disappointment in his eyes was replaced with confusion. “Well, why wouldn’t I be?”
You let out a sigh of annoyance. “Well, I just think this whole thing is stupid. I mean, you were so mean to me for three years, and now you're...sucking up to me like a husband begging for forgiveness from his wife after an argument.”
“It’s not like that at all!” Gilbert retorted hastily. “Look, if you think this is so stupid, why can't we just be friends and forget about what happened between us in the past?”
“You're saying that as if it’s so easy!” you cried. “You're saying that as if you have absolutely no idea how much distress and pain I've been through because of you! Do you need me to show you my scars again for you to understand why I won't be able to forget about what happened?”
“No,” he said firmly. “Okay, so maybe you won't be able to forget about what happened between us, and I get that. I probably will never be able to forget it either. But why is it that hard for you to just be friends with me?”
“Because I don’t see you as a friend,” you growled. “I can't imagine a single moment in my life where I ever would've been friends with you. And I never want to, either.”
“W-Well...maybe we could at least get along,” Gilbert said. “Not be friends, but not act so cold towards each other. Maybe have an occasional conversation or greeting with each other as if we were talking to any other person in the school...but nothing more.”
“That...seems manageable.” You crossed your arms once more and dropped your gaze down to the sheets. “But never friends. If we were never friends before, we’re absolutely not going to be friends now.”
Gilbert sighed, slightly annoyed by your stubbornness. “Fine.”