The next day Juliet is absent from school. And the day after that, and the one after that too.
"I'm not playing dumb, Stevens, I'm confused. I don't know what you mean. Am I now not allowed to eat without you?"
"Why are you acting like it means nothing?"
"Because it does mean nothing! I'm just not hungry! I'm sorry, I'm stressed!"
"You're stressed so you stop eating? God, Anders, what the fuck does this remind me of?"
"It doesn't remind you of anything."
"Oh, and the overload of affection on Flo, that doesn't remind me of anything either?"
Anders grits his jaw. "No! We've talked about it, he knows it's not serious-"
"Wake the fuck up, Anders, neither of you believe that for a goddamn second, and you know that."
"What do you want, Nat."
"I don't want my fucking brother to end up in a hospital bed because he was too busy scraping himself raw to track that things were getting bad again!"
Anders wrings his hands, thumb ghosting over a raised scar on his left wrist, and says nothing.
Nat sighs, and takes his hand. "I'm worried. So is Lorie and Seo, we all saw-"
"How are you and Seo any different to me and Flo?" Anders spits, suddenly.
Nat flinches back. "This is not about me, or Seo, Anders-"
"How many times have you broken up? Isn't that sick? Constantly going back to something that's not working?"
"What the fuck are you talking about? Seo and I are aware of how our relationship works, you seem to live in the delusion that Flo's capable of not catching feelings!"
Anders scoffs. "You're way beyond catching feelings, you're in full on fucking rose-coloured-glasses."
"We are not talking about my fucking love life, we are talking about you ignoring your own goddamn warning signs! You stopped eating, you-"
"What about your own, huh?" Anders' hand whips out, grabs Nat's wrist, and his thumb digs into one of the many tiny scars littering it.
Nat pulls her hand back. "That is not the same thing."
Anders leans down, to whisper in her ear. "I think you'll find it is, whatever justifications you tell yourself."
He knocks into her, and storms inside the building.
Nat throws up a quick ward, then collapses in on herself, shuddering with her tears.
...it takes him a few minutes to gather up the courage to approach her. He'd seen the yelling and the tears and the fighting and the storming off. He can't just leave her. Even if she's a stranger. So he shoulders his backpack tighter and walks over.
"Um. Do you need... help?"
A boy. A boy looking directly at her, through her fucking ward. Oh, tops.
"I'm- I'm fine. You weren't supposed to see that."
"I can leave? Or I can stand here and be awkward and let you be upset because you really look like you kinda need it and I can skip class because Mr. Kane really hates me and I'd rather be out here anyway," he pauses. "There was a full stop in there somewhere. I swear."