Subduction

 

  1. Him

Tina had heard of him. He was an Economics major, minored in psychology—infamous, if she had to describe his reputation. She didn’t think it was that bad or if he was that bad in general, he just was well-talked about—perhaps not even that well-liked, James seemed to admire him, and maybe admire was too strong of a word, but he was definitely in awe of him.

He made things. Jen, one day, had put it lewdly, that he was good with his hands. Of course, Tina had never thought of such vile behavior, with the exception to Jen’s very inappropriate suggestions that came in time to time. Painting—Tina had effectively cut off Jen’s train of thought one day when she saw one of his portraits hanging in the glass showcase in the lobby of the main building.

Landscapes.

Jackson had taken a liking to landscapes—which, she assumed that he was a nature type of guy. Assumptions and classifications only led you so far in life, James had pointed out rather blatantly the very same day. The next couple of thoughts rolled off of her shoulders like warm water when she saw the midterm exam dates posted on the school bulletin.

Weeks later, when fall bled into winter, she saw glimpses of him near the pool. Winter swimming, she assumed, and once again—it was James who had insisted that it wasn’t right to have pre-existing prejudices.

But bad habits were hard to break.

The professors had begun to think that he would go to law school once he finished undergrad because he was promising and cunning for all the wrong reasons. She had heard of his impatience, curiosity, and slightly indifferent personality. She wasn’t scared of him.

She wasn’t.

Wary would have been a better synonym.

Jen’s fingers crept closer to the chair and Tina could feel the back of her molars grinding.

The bomber jacket was a deep charcoal—almost leather-like, with gold buttons and an inky zipper. The collar was made from cotton was an even deeper black, blacker than the zipper. Its satiny color glinted eerily under the warm lamp light and Jen’s fingers were just about to grasp the collar.

An inch more—just a little more and her fingers would have touched—there was a shift.

Without even turning his head, Jackson’s hand suddenly grasped his bomber jacket, his eyes opened to see Tina peering through the glass door—

And Tina froze.

 

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Subduction

I. Deep

Perhaps, it had been a terrible idea from the beginning. Maybe. Tina could see it, just a glimpse, from the tips of her toes she stood, looking into the empty library.

It was not her idea.

It wasn’t.  

It was Jen’s.

Dark hair spilled over the desk, forearms spread over the table callously, warm light spilled over warm skin and his black sweater pulled snuggly over his shoulders. Oak undertones of the library made the air even softer, brightening the fall sun and toppling onto the thick books that piled across the desk lamp.

Tina really didn’t like this.

“—es is going to regret this. He’s completely asleep! It shouldn’t be too hard to grab it—why are you making that face?” Jen asked, her eyebrows furrowed.

“I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Nothing is ever a good idea,” She paused, “For you.”

Tina sighed, before threading her fingers in her hair and giving it a good yank. “Jackson Im is not a person to pick a fight with.”

A pause. “Are you scared of him?”

A scoff, “Don’t be ridiculous. I just don’t want to be on his hit list. Is that a crime? I want to finish college with my sanity intact.”

Jen chuckled inaudibly, her brown eyes twinkling dully in the candlelight, “Really? Your hands are shaking.”

Tina, on instinct, grabbed both of her hands and clasped before scowling, she clarified, “First of all—I am only here as a witness. Nothing more, nothing less.” She paused, before continuing, “Besides, he hasn’t spoken to me and he hasn’t bothered me. I would like to keep it that way.”

Jen didn’t even turn to look at her, her eyes fixing on the satin cloth against the chair next to Jackson, “Jackson’s Julian brass-embedded bomber jacket has my name on it. James is going to piss himself once I throw it at his stupid face.”

Tina could feel her stomach tangle.

“I really don’t like this.”

Jen inhaled deeply before squaring her shoulders, her fingers lightly grasped the handle of the door, and said, “If I don’t make it back, tell James he can find six of his hoodies in my closet.”