It had been raining all week, which was weird. It hardly rained at all that year, and never in winter.
When Gatsby came into history, his shirt was wet, and there was mud on his shoes and in his hair. He looked strange, and smaller than usual—pale except for a little scrape, raw and bright on the point of his chin. He was dragging his backpack by the strap, letting it hang down so that it bumped along the floor as he walked. When he dropped into his seat, it looked awkward.
“Sorry, Mister T. Unavoidable.” Which is what he always said when he was late, but his voice cracked a little. He kept opening his mouth like he wanted to say something else, but couldn’t make the sound come out.
When he saw me watching him, he stared back and raised his eyebrows. But when he saw that Valentine was watching too, he ducked his head, fumbling one-handed with his backpack. He looked sick, but sicker than normal.
Valentine leaned across the aisle. “What’s wrong—something’s wrong. What’s wrong with your arm?”
“Nothing.” When he took out a pen, he was shaking.
After roll, Tully told us to work on our final projects while he ran down to the library. He told us to behave ourselves, but not as though he expected that we wouldn’t.
After he was gone, Valentine turned to face Gatsby. “Something’s wrong.”
Gatsby looked away and said very carefully, “I kind of hurt my shoulder.”
Valentine was out of her desk now, standing over him, hands on her hips. “I want to see.”
He shook his head.
“God damn it, Gatsby. Let me see it.”
She grabbed him by the collar and yanked hard, and he shut his eyes, biting off a short, harsh cry.
She looked down inside the gaping neck of his shirt, then let him go, backing away stiffly, her arms at her sides, her voice high and quick and breathless.
“Ohmygod.” She said it in a rush, like it was all one word. “Jesus.”
He didn’t say anything, just nodded. He looked very tired.
“So, who did that? Who did that?”
He reached out with his right hand, his good hand. “V, I—”
She twisted away, skipping back. “Got in a fight. You got in a fight, Gatsby. What—was it over some petty drug bullshit? Did Shark-Boy tell you to ‘stand and recognize,’ some shit like that? You better $%&@ ing recognize this, Gatsby. You are on probation. You are not supposed to fight anymore.”
He opened his mouth. Closed it again.
“Take off your shirt,” she said, looking terrifying.