tere runs into a pole and a stranger gives him an ice pack
Tere walks quickly down the sidewalk, ten dollars crumpled in his tight fist, sneakers sopping wet from stepping in the various puddles strewn on the sidewalk. He tugs his hood down further, effectively covering his eyes, hiding his face from anyone who might recognize him.
This also effectively obstructs his view, allowing a lamp pole to go unnoticed and smashing right into his face.
The caramel blond reels back, hood forgotten in favor of clutching his face in pain. He hisses a curse under his breath and rubs at the left side of his face, which is bound to be bright red by now. Tere closes his eyes for a moment, hoping it would help with the red-hot pain bursting into his left cheekbone.
He spends another few seconds wallowing in his agony, then opens his eyes and nearly has a heart attack. “Um. Can I help you?”
A tall boy stands in front of him, a worried look on his face. He doesn’t much older than Tere - maybe twenty, at the most twenty-one. “Are you alright? I couldn’t help but notice… Do you need an ice pack?” He fumbles in his pocket and pulls out a disposable ice pack.
Tere blinks at him. “Um. Sure?”
The boy smiles, but the effect of the warm gesture is immediately displaced by the way his fist slams violently into the pack, starting the process of cooling by breaking the bag of chemicals inside.
Tere can’t help but stare. He had never seen anybody bust an ice pack with one try.
He takes a wary step back.
The boy seems pleasantly unaware of his trepidation and hands the pack to him. Tere feels it in his fingers - nice and cold - then presses it to his cheek. Ah. Soothing relief.
After a while, the boy shifts on his feet and smiles again, more awkwardly this time. “What’s your name? Do you live around here?”
Tere pauses for a moment, then gives the boy a glance. “… ’M Tere. T-E-R-E. And yes.”
“Oh! That’s nice. Tere… a unique name. That's cool.”
He’s obviously trying to make friends, one of the voices that has always been inside his head tells him. That’s good. Because you don’t have any friends, Tere. Tere looks at the boy again, then looks away. He feels bad for the boy, because he’s so obviously trying to be nice and make conversation. Too bad Tere is unbearably bad at talking to people. The boy opens his mouth again, and Tere braces himself.
“I’m Adalius! I have an interesting name too. And I’m in Steinbeck’s homeroom class.” He’s shifting on his feet again.
Here it comes, Tere thinks. He grips the ice pack tighter.
“Do you think you would want to be friends with me?” Adalius asks slightly nervously. He’s staring right at Tere, which makes him uncomfortable, but Tere doesn’t dare look away. His eyes are a startling… whitish grey. Tere doesn’t think he has ever seen something like it.
Besides, nobody ever asks to become friends. They just... do. Right?
You owe him for the ice pack, a new voice says adamantly. Willette. Besides, he looks strong. Maybe he can chase away all the rogues who come after you sometimes. A punch to the face never hurt - I mean, it hurts. Quite a bit.
”Okay,” Tere hears himself say. The ice pack feels bruisingly cold against his cheek, so he drops it for a moment, letting his arm dangle at his side. “Nice to meet you, Mister Adalius.”
Adalius looks like he isn’t sure whether Tere is joking or not with the "Mister", so he smiles again and pats Tere’s shoulder gently. “Well, see you around, Tere!” He turns, shooting Tere a final wave, and leaves.
Tere looks at Adalius’s receding back, then at the ice pack in his hand.
“Okay,” he says aloud. “Okay.”
You’re standing alone, soaked, on an empty street. Please, Tere, shut up, Sunny begs.