It really hasn't been Brendon's week. (Kind of an upbeat sounding song for this chapter...)
Brendon got to school the next day and it seemed like the coast was clear, the other senior boys weren’t anywhere to be seen and he was a little ashamed to admit that he was relieved. He got to English first, like yesterday, and Ryan came in a few minutes later. When the other boy sat down it looked like he was preparing himself for something and he took a breath before he started talking. “What happened? I know you couldn’t come over but Spencer was texting you and didn’t get any response.” Ryan sounded concerned and it looked like he might suspect something, but it also looked like he hadn’t played all of his cards yet.
Brendon just nodded, “Yeah my phone died and I couldn’t find the charger. It’s all good now though. I found it in one of my brothers’ rooms for some reason. I guess that the texts just didn’t go through this morning or something.”
Ryan looked like he was thinking about the response a little bit before he eventually nodded. “That’s good you found it.” Brendon didn’t think that Ryan really bought his story but he didn’t say anything so Brendon was happy about that and he no longer had the suspicion that Ryan was thinking about doing or saying anything else. They talked quietly about music and bands until everyone was in the room and the bell rang.
History class was uneventful and afterwards Brendon sat down in the seat he had yesterday in math and waited since there was nothing else to do. He wasn’t really paying attention when the people who sat behind him sat down, so he was quite surprised when he felt a hand on his shoulder pull him around so he was facing the back.
“Look who it is, guys!” a familiar redhead said with a huge grin on his face.
“Yeah it’s the fag!” one of the ones with black hair said.
Brendon cringed. He hated that word, he always had. It was just so ugly, which was probably the point of it being used to describe gay people. And something about it stung more than other insults even though it didn’t really apply to him. He didn’t try to move out of the grip, remembering the “rules” that he’d been taught yesterday. He did let the bell save him, though, and he snapped around when the redhead let go of him.
Class wasn’t any more interesting today than it had been yesterday and he didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. They had time to work on their assignment at the end and he was bent over his book, copying and solving the problems that he somehow knew how to do despite not hearing most of what the teacher said.
Not much time passed before he heard the people behind him: the redhead, one of the ones with black hair, the blond one, and the one with light brown hair, whispering insults like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ and ‘homo’ along with others. It was all sent in his direction, just loud enough for him and the neighboring students to hear. Brendon bent further over the book, trying to block it out because that was really the only thing that he could do.
The period was over eventually and he was able to grab his stuff and leave as fast as he could. He made it to the lunchroom and resisted the urge to turn his iPod on like he always did at his old school even if it did sound inviting since the day wasn’t really going in a pleasant direction so far. He just shook his head and made his way to the table that the three of them had sat at yesterday. Ryan was the only one there and he was casually looking around like he was just waiting for a bunch of people. He looked a little irritable but Brendon thought that he was probably imagining it since it was only the second day of school and there wasn’t anything to be stressed about.
Brendon went to the table and sat down across from Ryan, hoping that he didn’t have to talk. He didn’t say anything and he left his gaze on the surface of the table. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Ryan look up but he couldn’t see the expression. “What’s wrong?”
“Just a headache,” he mumbled not looking up. He really wished that he could just let go of stuff like this but he couldn’t. Insults and being made fun of didn’t sit well with him and he wasn’t able to shake it off like some people were. He didn’t really feel like talking about the anger that Ryan would undoubtedly see if he looked up, either. All of this was just personal shit that he had to deal with.
“Oh, do you want some Advil or something?” Ryan asked.
“No, I’ll be fine,” he said, putting his head in his hands, still staring at the gray tabletop.
Eventually Spencer came and he must have sensed the mood in the air because he didn’t talk. Lunch passed quickly and Brendon was both disappointed and rather happy by that. Either way, he got up and started walking to the doors when the bell rang.
Brendon wasn’t watching where he was walking and when he passed a table he heard a quiet, “Queer!” whisper-shouted at him. He didn’t even have to look to know that it was one of the assholes. The others erupted into laughter and people around him laughed, too. All he did was duck his head and hurry out of the doors to art class. He made it into the room and as soon as he was seated, he let his head fall to the table. Brendon hadn’t realized until now just how wonderfully gray all of the tables in the school were.
Ryan sat down across from him a minute later and said, in a concerned tone, “Are you sure you’re okay Brendon?” It sounded like he knew that there was more to the problem than just a headache. Brendon just sat up and waved him off because it wasn’t important and he would get through it all just fine.
For some reason Ryan didn’t bring up what happened in the lunchroom and Brendon hoped that he hadn’t heard it. The room was pretty big and the other teenager hadn’t said it that loudly. Besides, when all the laughter started, he was gone in a flash. As long as it wasn’t mentioned he’d be okay because there wasn’t anyone to torment him in this class, so there was nothing to make him think about this mess that he was in. The class ended quickly and without event, just like he’d been hoping.
Science was a bit like math had been. An assortment of the seven assholes sat behind or around him and called him names all throughout class, making his head sink further down as if that would keep the insults from hitting him.
The bell rang and he couldn’t have gotten out of his seat faster. Study hall it was. They had some homework that he could actually work on today to take his mind off of things. He was going to have to drop the signs that something had happened or Ryan would pick up on it and ask him about it, which was something that Brendon didn’t want. When he was safely in his seat in the corner he breathed a sigh. Brendon opened his math book and started working, though it didn’t occupy him for long. Ryan walked into the room and sat down in his desk by Brendon. He didn’t say anything, just gave him a look like he was trying to figure him out. Brendon didn’t respond and just took out his other notebook so he could daydream and look busy, ignoring Ryan’s frustrated look.
When the bell rang he didn’t think that he’d ever be as happy for computer class. Not only was it away from the bullying, it was also the last class of the day and that was always something to look forward to, no matter what class it was. Ryan was already in his seat when Brendon walked in the door but he didn’t say anything when he sat down.
Class was stupid, they had to work out of the book and just follow the step-by-step instructions to make and alter some program. They were supposed to be reading the information that came before the instructions but Brendon skipped it because it would take too long to finish the whole thing if he read everything.
When the bell rang he was logged off and out of the door as fast as possible. At their lockers, Ryan gave him a questioning look and Brendon knew exactly what he was asking. “Not tonight. Later this week?” Ryan nodded and turned away; biting his lip and looking conflicted.
Brendon took his empty backpack and he went the other way, walking out of the door and going in the direction of his house. Once he was a few blocks away, he realized he was being followed. He turned around and saw the group of seven senior boys that he really never wanted to see again in his life. They must have guessed his thoughts, too.
“You didn’t honestly think that you could just get away with not seeing us again, did you?” the one with close-shaved brown hair asked.
“All the fun stuff is after school,” the blond said with an evil-looking smile, making Brendon really dread this idea of “fun stuff”, knowing that it was going to probably be painful and/or humiliating on his end.
One of the ones with black hair moved behind his back and held his arms to his side, making him wonder if they really thought that he was going to try to fight back. The leader stepped forward with a smirk on his face. “I just don’t understand you people, how could you like guys? It’s disgusting.”
“Not to mention, morally wrong. You can go to Hell for it,” the red-head piped up, coming closer and smirking at him.
“Really, is burning forever really worth it?” the other black-haired one said.
Brendon just set his jaw and kept his gaze forward. He got this kind of stuff all the time, it wasn’t ever directed to him but he was around it whenever his parents decided to talk about it. If his ADHD wasn’t acting up he would consider running, but his body was frozen and all he could do was take it.
The one holding onto him pushed him forward to the leader who pushed him to the redhead, and ‘Pass the gay’ went on until one of them decided to up the meanness and didn’t catch him on a particularly hard shove, letting him fall to the ground instead, then tripping him so he couldn’t regain his balance, then kicking him in the side so he couldn’t get up. Like yesterday, they walked past him, dropping words like, ‘gay’, ‘fag’, ‘fairy’, etc. one of them even stepped on him.
When they were gone, he struggled to his feet and went home, going past his mom without answering her questions about how his day went, if he had homework, who he sat by at lunch, and other things like that. He went straight up to his room, shut and locked the door, and sank down on his bed. Once again he shut off his phone and buried his face in his pillow, willing the day to be gone.
The next day he went to school again, telling himself that the assholes had probably lost interest in him. He knew that he was lying to himself but he didn’t care, it helped a little. In the front hallway the seven were there and they smirked at him. One of them made a kissy face at him and the others laughed, then they started pantomiming what they were going to do to him later. Brendon ducked his head and hurried to the English room, sliding onto his seat and breathing deep, he had to keep his cool. They were just a bunch of bullies that didn’t even matter. He’d dealt with bullies before.
Ryan came in right before the bell rang and he barely looked at Brendon. The quick glance that he cast Brendon’s way looked concerned, though. Brendon ignored it and focused on the board. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Ryan’s frown as he faced the board as well.
The class took his mind somewhat off of the seven boys who’d decided to make his life hell. Ryan even seemed to forget about it, and he was raising his hand and offering opinions and interpretations more than anyone else. It was nice to sit there and listen to Ryan talk about the little introductory passages they were going over, he was articulate and knew what he was talking about as well as knowing what he thought about it. Everything was said with such authority that Brendon was somewhat captivated listening to the other teenager speak.
When the bell rang he was disappointed to leave because he’d liked sitting there listening to the discussion going on around him and forming his opinions that he didn’t ever voice but still had. The time for that class was over, though, and he left for history. Ryan muttered, “See you at lunch,” as he walked by.
Math class was like the previous day; the people tormented him before class started and he just had to take it. This time the taunts were engineered to dig a little deeper and the assholes were mocking him, making fun of anything that they could think of, and of course they dropped the classic insults. Throughout the lesson he was even poked and had things thrown at him. When the class was over and the bell freed him, he was the first person out of the door.
At lunch, Brendon found the other two easily enough. On his way to the table he was tripped so that he stumbled, dumping most of his food off of his plate and when he got to the table he felt like screaming in frustration. Both Spencer and Ryan noticed that there was something wrong but they didn’t say anything. For once he didn’t get a look from Ryan and Spencer’s look didn’t linger long.
Spencer and Ryan talked and he inputted some things into the conversation but overall he didn’t say very much. Luckily they didn’t know him well enough to know that this was very abnormal behavior and be more worried than they were already.
Ryan insisted on going with him to art which made Brendon wonder if he had heard what happened after lunch yesterday after all. If he had, he still hadn’t said anything about it. They sat down at their table in the art room and Brendon was relieved that Ryan had gone with him. No one had said anything to him as the two of them passed the table and he felt a little better at this point in the day.
They had a stupid assignment about drawing trees. However, this was something that Brendon actually felt like he could draw. They didn’t look particularly good, but he could tell what they were. Brendon looked up a few times to see how Ryan was doing and his trees looked a lot better. Ryan wasn’t trying to give them leaves like they were supposed to, he just left them as skeletons, but as Brendon really looked at them he could tell that adding anything to them would just ruin them. They looked haunting and mysterious the way they were and he knew that Ryan didn’t care that he wasn’t following instructions anyway. He almost hated the fact that the period ended except that it was art class and he hated art class.
Science was boring and he had to deal with the insults and names that he was being called by the boys behind him. Some of the other people in the room even turned to look at him, they didn’t add anything and they didn’t stand up for him, they just watched and laughed along with the insults. Brendon wondered how long it would take for the other students to join in rather than just laugh.
When study hall came around, he wondered if he’d ever been happier for another class. For one thing he had work to do and he also got to sit in the corner with Ryan, plus no one else was around and they couldn’t torment him. Ryan didn’t give him a look this time, he just sat down and said hi. Brendon returned the greeting and asked, “Do you have any work?”
“Not much, just some math and science. You?”
“Math, do you think you could help me with it? I didn’t completely get what he was saying.” That was probably because he hadn’t been listening in the first place because he was busy blocking out constant insults, but Ryan didn’t need to know that bit.
“Sure, it’s pretty easy once you understand it,” Ryan said, moving closer and looking at the work Brendon had done so far. He was slightly tempted to tell Ryan about the abuse and what it was already doing to him on the third day that it was happening, but it was better that Ryan think he had trouble with a math concept than with other seniors.
So Brendon listened to Ryan explain the assignment and it eventually did click so he knew what it was that he was doing and he didn’t feel like he was missing something. “I think I can do it now, thanks.”
“Sure, no problem, like I said, once you get the hang of it it’s not hard,” Ryan said, sitting back and smiling a little. Something made Brendon think that the other boy was waiting for something but he didn’t do anything else but turn to his work so Brendon shook off the feeling. He got done with his math and put it back into his backpack. He saw that Ryan was done, too, and that he was writing in a notebook, so Brendon started staring out of the window again.
When the bell rang, the two of them went to computer together and sat down in their spots. The bell rang and Ryan sighed, looking up at the ceiling. “And the next forty-seven minutes of boredom commences now,” he muttered. Brendon just smiled and logged on to his computer.
After school, at their lockers, Ryan turned to him and looked like he was about to say something before he sighed and shook his head. “Never mind, I know that the answer’s no.”
“If you’re talking about what I think, then you’re right,” Brendon answered, swinging his backpack onto his back and looking at the time on his phone. He never remembered to ask his mom or dad about going to Ryan’s house since he usually wasn’t thinking of it when he walked through the door.
“Sometime this week you’re going to say yes,” Ryan said, putting his backpack on and pointing at Brendon, looking serious.
Brendon smiled and nodded. “Yes sir,” he saluted for added effect.
“As you were,” Ryan said. “Bye Brendon.”
“See you tomorrow, Ryan,” he answered, turning around and going out the door. He still had the smile on his face as he was walking down the street a few blocks away from the school. Of course, he wasn’t allowed to be happy for long.
He felt something hit his backpack and he started paying more attention to what was going on, but Brendon kept walking because he knew that he could have imagined it, too. The feeling came again though and it was harder this time. He heard a clattering sound and looked down. There was a gray rock on the ground and before he could fully put everything together, he was surrounded. His stomach sank when he saw the seven assholes around him, looking down at him with cruel looks on their faces.
One of the ones with black hair spit to the side, miraculously not at him, and muttered, “Faggot.”
Brendon’s stomach sank further and he pictured the last two nights of being huddled on his bed, thinking, and trying to resist the urge to contact the one person who he knew he could talk to about this. He backed up a step and gulped; it looked like tonight was going to be the same.
“I don’t get why you play the victim, you bring all of this on yourself. People like you, they deserve to be hurt, deserve to die even. Why do you get to play the victim?” The leader said, stepping forward and toward him.
Brendon backed up some more and ran right into two of the others. They grabbed him by the arms and held him back, pinning him in place so that he couldn’t move no matter how hard he tried. He held back a whimper and closed his eyes. A fist connected with his stomach and he lurched forward. The assholes kept him pinned in place though so he didn’t fall over.
The beating continued; he was punched some more and he was kicked a few times. Eventually they let him drop to the ground and after a few more cruelly placed kicks they melted away. As soon as he was sure they were gone he got up and ran home, hoping that his fucking tears wouldn’t decide to spill over.
Like yesterday he ignored his mom and went straight up to his room, collapsing onto the bed and trying not to cry into his pillow. Today his phone didn’t make any noise and he was surprisingly able to stay in his room all night.
Thursday wasn’t much better. Brendon got to school and had them stop him in the hallway. “Where are you going little faggot?” the blond taunted. He pushed against them, trying to get past so he could get to class and be safe because he was sick of this. They were a lot stronger than him, though, and he was losing his strength to desperation.
“You didn’t think you could avoid us this morning did you?” the redhead laughed, stepping forward and ruffling his hair a little before turning it into a hard noogie, grinding his knuckles into Brendon’s scalp.
Brendon struggled and twisted, trying his absolute hardest to get away. If ever there was a time for a miracle, it would be now. Of course there were other students in the hallway and they gathered around to see what was going on. A few of them were laughing at him and repeating the insults. His struggles got weaker and weaker until he resigned himself to the public torture/humiliation. The redhead let go and pushed him to the floor, laughing and telling him to toughen up.
“And these glasses, how the fucking hell do they stay on your face?” the one with shaved brown hair said, bending down and taking his glasses. Brendon watched in horror and just waited for the moment when they would be snapped in two and dropped on the ground to be stepped on.
The moment didn’t come, thank God, but the glasses were dropped on the ground next to him with the seniors chuckling and shaking their heads. When the assholes left, the other students didn’t stay around for long. Some of the bolder ones stuck around, though, and called him some more names before they left, too.
When the coast was clear, Brendon picked himself up off the floor and ducked his head down to go to English. Ryan was the only other person in the room besides the teacher and Brendon immediately wanted to head straight for him. The other boy was writing in his notebook and looked up when he heard Brendon enter the room. Brendon was sure that he looked like a mess and he realized that he probably should have gone to the bathroom first to clean himself up, but he took a breath and went to his desk instead.
When he sat down, Ryan looked more than concerned. “Brendon are you okay? Because you really don’t look like you are.” In response, Brendon shook his head. He really didn’t want to talk about it and he didn’t want Ryan to know about it at all. Ryan seemed to get it and he bit his lip, looking away. It didn’t look like he was happy about letting it go but at least he did, that’s what made Brendon relax.
Everything went by in a blur. In history he took notes and did the parts of the worksheet that they had to do. Math went by like the previous day: he had things thrown at him, he was poked, he was pretty sure that he was drawn on, the boy behind him kept kicking his desk, he was flicked in the back of the head, and he even had his hair pulled. The other kids in the class joined in on the taunting, too. They didn’t do as much as the assholes, but he heard their whispers.
At lunch, he put his earbuds into his ears and didn’t care that he was with the other two. He knew that they were talking about him at the beginning because he could read their lips. They gave him strange looks and they both looked worried. Brendon ignored them and kept listening to his iPod. Loud music, he’d found, helped just about everything.
In art, Ryan tried to talk to him but he changed the subject. Ryan reluctantly went along with it and they talked about different subjects, never getting back to what his problem was and why he was shrugging them off. Science blew right by and he barely remembered what they’d gone over in class. It was definitely a good thing that the notes were put on the board so that he could mindlessly write them down. He was too busy trying to ignore the assholes behind him to really pay much attention, and everyone else in the class had started to join in on it as well.
In study hall Ryan came in looking pissed off again. His expression didn’t change when he sat down like it did last time but Brendon left him alone. Ryan didn’t push him so Brendon wasn’t going to bother Ryan. In computer, he continued on auto-pilot and didn’t retain anything that he did. When the bell rang, he left, but he didn’t go to his locker like he usually did. Instead, he was looking for somewhere that he knew existed and that he needed at the moment.
He went down a few hallways and consulted a directory before he found it. Spencer had said that there used to be choir and band and that there were three sound proof rooms for practicing. They weren’t used for anything anymore and weren’t locked or even paid attention to.
Brendon found them. He let himself into the closest one, shut the door, and turned the light on to look at the piano that was set up against the wall; just like in the other two rooms. He wasted no time in sitting down and pushing the cover up. It was sad in a way that these pianos and other instruments were just abandoned here, forgotten and gathering dust, but at least they were here for him.
He started playing something that just came to mind, not knowing if it was an actual song or not. After a few minutes of just playing a melody that was coming out of him, he was able to put words to it. There was no way that he would be able to remember it, but he didn’t care. It was a sweet release to sit on the piano, close his eyes, and sing his heart out like he was going to die at any minute.
Ryan was walking down the hallway just outside of the detention room, wanting nothing more than to go back to his house since it was better than the school by a long shot. He still didn’t know why he got detention in the first place and he didn’t even care, he just wanted to leave. Ryan sighed in frustration and walked a little faster, but then he heard the music coming from one of the sound proof rooms that used to be used for music classes. He frowned and walked closer, wondering who the hell would be down here this late.
The piano music and the singing that went with it were absolutely amazing. He didn’t recognize the song but it was beautiful, especially the way the person was portraying it. Through the window he saw—to his surprise—one Brendon Urie. His first thought was that the other teen was an amazing singer and they needed to add that to the band somehow. Once that thought passed, though, his second thought was that there had to be something wrong for Brendon to be here.
Brendon had been acting strange after Monday. He didn’t talk much and he always said that there was nothing wrong with him when it was clear that he was on the verge of tears. Ryan tried to talk to him, he tried to get something out of him, make him comfortable enough to talk, but Brendon waved off all of his attempts. It was frustrating to say the least and he was getting tired of it. If it didn’t end soon, he was going to force Brendon to tell him what was going on or just stop trying to do anything at all.
Then Brendon’s voice broke on the note he was singing above the piano. He continued to sing but it was wavering and tears had started to drip down his face. After only a few seconds of fighting, he gave up and stopped, resting his head on the piano and letting it out.
Ryan felt his eyes widen and he took a step back, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He wanted to do something but he knew that Brendon wouldn’t probably be happy about the fact that he was technically spying on him. Besides, he deserved some time to just let it out and not be comforted or have someone there to pull it together for. So Ryan left, albeit hesitantly, so that Brendon could cry and feel whatever it was that he was feeling. It didn’t make him feel good but he did it anyway.
When he was done crying and he’d dried off the piano, he stood up and sniffled, trying to regain his composure. He hated himself for crying about something so stupid but there wasn’t anything that he could do about it now. Brendon turned the light off and left the room, walking down the hallway and out the door.
Today he wasn’t stopped by the assholes. They’d probably gotten bored waiting for him and either went to go looking or just to go home and save it all for tomorrow. It was practically down pouring for the whole walk but he didn’t care, walking in the rain seemed appropriate and he liked it anyway.
Once home, his mom wasn’t there to ask him how his day had been and that helped a lot of things. He went straight up to his room and put on one of his CD’s. He lay on his back on the floor and stared at the ceiling, listening to the music. He ran through his head the endless torture while the music played as a background to his thoughts. Now the other kids had joined in, so Brendon got hell even if the assholes weren’t around. He thought about that and ran through his week before he went downstairs for dinner, and he continued doing it after dinner until he fell asleep.
On Friday he didn’t want to go to school. He contemplated faking sick and staying home, or locking himself in his room and refusing to come out. Of course he did neither and he showered, got dressed, and gathered all of his things, like every other day that week.
At school he was ambushed again. This time it wasn’t only by seven boys though. No, this time it was a large group and there were other boys and a few bitchy looking girls. Brendon shrank into himself and absorbed all of the insults and hateful comments. He was pushed around, and then he made the fatal mistake of resisting just the littlest bit.
The boy who he’d resisted wasn’t even one of the assholes; he looked like a heavyweight wrestler and just had that persona around him. When Brendon resisted, he was pushed up against the wall and the beefy guy leaned in close with a threatening look in his eye. “Did you just try to fight back?” he growled.
Brendon was terrified and he tried to press himself into the wall, willing it to be like the pillar in Harry Potter that let them go through onto the magic train platform, but of course it didn’t work and he was still confronted with this problem. He shook his head as much as he dared and he flinched when the wrestler’s grip on his shirt tightened and he raised one fist. In that split second that Brendon had before the fist hit his face, he wondered if his parents would send him back to his old school if they knew what was happening here. Surely two kids doing something stupid and getting arrested weren’t as bad as assault and verbal abuse on a daily basis.
His glasses and possibly his nose were spared, though, when the leader of the group of assholes cleared his throat. “I think that that’s enough. He’s ours for that; go find someone else. However, the help is appreciated,” he said in a calm, cool voice. The wrestler stepped back and let go of Brendon. He wasn’t stupid, though, he knew what was going to happen next. That was why he ran. As soon as he had enough space, he sprinted away from them and into the English room. Brendon knew that he was going to have to pay for that later on but he didn’t care at the moment because he was safe.
Brendon leaned against the door and got his breath back. The teacher wasn’t in the room, no one was, leaving him alone and able to compose himself. Then, the door opened behind him and he fell backwards. When he looked up through his black hair, he saw none other than Ryan Ross standing above him.
“Brendon, is something going on?” Ryan asked with a raised eyebrow. It was obvious that he meant something more than just the fact that he was on the floor but he decided to play dumb.
“Nope, I just decided to try out the floor and see if it was more comfortable than our chairs,” he answered. He was feeling triumphant, like he’d just done something spectacular and he grinned up at Ryan. He didn’t miss Ryan’s disappointed look but he pretended like he didn’t see it. Ryan offered him a hand and he took it, pulling himself up and walking with the other teenager to their desk.
“Well at least you’re acting normally,” Ryan muttered.
“How do you know how I normally act?” Brendon asked, confused. “I just met you last week.”
“Oh, um, when Brent was telling us about you he said that you were a ‘crazy, funny, hyperactive guy who talks non-stop’ but that you were insanely talented. Then when you came to the audition I noticed that you weren’t talking a lot, I assumed it was just nerves. Then all week you’ve been sort of withdrawn and everything. I guess it’s nice to see you living up to the original description,” Ryan said, looking a little embarrassed.
“Really? You care about how I act?” Brendon asked. No one had ever seemed particularly concerned about that before unless he wasn’t acting the way the person wanted.
“Well, I care about Spencer and usually I care about Brent. We’re friends aren’t we?” Ryan asked with a raised eyebrow.
Brendon smiled and nodded. “I think so.” Ryan was quiet for a moment.
“We’re friends,” Ryan said in a tone of finalization, sitting down in his seat. Brendon followed his lead.
“I think I’ll be okay with that.”
Class started and his mood had improved significantly. Maybe today wouldn’t be as bad as the rest of the week had been. He sure hoped so. At the end of class he and Ryan went their separate ways and he took his seat in history. Nothing ever happened in history so his good mood was still intact when he got to his math class and sat down in his desk.
When the rest of the people came in his heart sank though. He remembered everything that had happened earlier and his stomach got a little tighter at the thought of what might happen to him in this class. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the little faggot, here to face us even after his behavior this morning. Should we accept this from him?” the blond said. He hit Brendon sharply on the back of the head and looked to the others for their input.
“No, we shouldn’t,” one of the ones with black hair said, scowling at Brendon.
“But, we shouldn’t punish him now, all of us should be there for the punishment. We’ll let him sweat it out,” the redhead said with an evil-looking smirk. He was hit in the head again by each person as they went to their desks, but then it was over.
They all sat behind him and didn’t say or do anything to him all period. The worst part about it was that he kept expecting it to come back at any moment and he started worrying about what they were going to do to him later on because he knew that it would top everything that they’d done so far, exactly what they meant to happen.
When the bell rang he practically sprinted out of the room and to the lunchroom. As he walked, he realized that he was trembling a little and he worked to stop it so that the others wouldn’t see what was wrong with him. No one said anything to him on the way to the lunch table even though everyone saw him walking by and they turned to watch him walk. He guessed that the message had gotten around about leaving him alone until later on. He sat down at the lunch table and waited for Ryan and Spencer to come up and save him from worrying. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long.
Ryan looked happy that he was being responsive today and Spencer offered him a little smile. “Hey, Brendon.”
“Hey, Spencer,” he answered. There was a slight waver in his voice but he didn’t think the others heard it. He paid some attention to the conversation but the other two were so used to him not paying attention that they didn’t really seem to care if he decided to be present or not. Brendon was distracted by the threat that he’d been given in math and as much as he tried to pay attention to the conversation, it mostly failed.
In hindsight, he’d known that he would pay for running and he’d known that it would be bad, he just wasn’t prepared for the threat and he was actually scared for his well-being. They could do anything to him and probably get away with it.
At the end of lunch Ryan insisted that they walk together again to art class. Brendon agreed and while they passed the lunch table with the assholes and his other tormentors, they all gave him looks and he quickly averted his gaze.
In art he didn’t really catch the project so he watched Ryan work, figuring it out as the class ticked on and deciding that he’d start it on Monday. He let his mind wander while he watched Ryan draw; only doing the part of the assignment that he wanted to, as usual. At the end, he nervously went to science and tried to get there right before the bell rang so that he didn’t have to deal with anything, not that he really expected there to be anything since they’d made it clear that they weren’t going to touch him.
As he suspected, science stayed quiet and he was left alone until the bell rang. On his way out the door there was someone who shoved him into the doorframe but he shook it off and went to study hall. He was never nervous for this class, and he sank into his seat with a relaxed sigh.
He still didn’t want to talk, though, so he took out a notebook to make it look like he was actually working on something, keeping his nose in it when Ryan sat down and greeted him. He returned the greeting but he kept his eyes down. Brendon saw the confused and frustrated look on Ryan’s face but he ignored it.
Ryan seemed to be able to read him and he just knew that talking would let Ryan know that there was something wrong. Ryan would then ask him what was wrong and Brendon would have to try and not tell the other boy.
Computer was about the same as study hall but he was open to talking to Ryan about how boring the class was. When the bell rang they both sighed and left the room. Brendon told Ryan that he would see him the next week and went off in the direction of the bathrooms.
He went into the stall because he’d never been a fan of urinals and set about doing his business. When he left the stall, zipping up his jeans, he looked up and froze. In the bathroom, waiting for him, was the group of seven, smirking at him. “We told you we’d get you, Faggot,” the one with close-shaved brown hair said.
Brendon looked at the door and wondered at his chances of getting out without them catching him first. He didn’t think they were very good. They saw him looking, though, and the two with black hair stepped in front of the door. He was trapped. In his moment of despair at this fact, he didn’t notice the red-head coming up behind him until it was too late and he was pushed forward into the group of assholes.
Once again they started passing him around roughly for a while until he stumbled and fell a little. The blond picked him up and held him with his arms behind his back. They got in a few half-hearted punches, and then one of the ones with black hair stepped away from the door and let a blond girl into the room. The girl went over to the leader and pecked him on the lips.
“Hey! I bet the fag couldn’t kiss a girl,” the one with light brown hair said.
“I’ll make that bet. Annie? Would you care to prove me right?” the leader asked with an evil look on his face.
She smiled. “Of course,” she said, approaching Brendon with the same mean look that everyone else was wearing.
“Wait, I want to get this on camera,” one of the black-haired boys said, digging into his pocket for his cell phone. Brendon tried to struggle against the arms of the blond but it was useless. “Okay, ready.”
“Pucker up, homo!” the red-head jeered, starting a chain of insults that he blocked out for the most part, too focused on the evil girl in front of him.
The girl leaned in and put her hands on both sides of his face. She pressed her lips against his and he tried to pull away, scrunching his face up and moving his head to the side, pressing back the little bit that he could. But she persisted and he continued to struggle while the laughing of all the others echoed around the bathroom.
It wasn’t so much the fact that they were making him kiss a girl that bothered him, it was the fact that they were holding him and forcing him. The event was humiliating and everything else that the group had done to him through the week was piling up in his mind, making the feelings of humiliation and discomfort come to a climax.
He couldn’t help the tears that spilled out of his eyes and they just made the laughter louder. The hold on his arms wasn’t as tight anymore and he got free, running through the door and down the hallway away from the humiliation. Brendon didn’t think that they cared all that much though since they were all still laughing at his misery.
Brendon found himself at his locker and he put his back to it, sliding down to the ground and drawing his knees to his chin, really crying and getting a little bit of a headache. He didn’t know how long it was until he heard soft footsteps and someone kneeling down beside him. Two arms went around him, pulling him out of his tight little bundle and he heard a soft and drawn out, “hey.”
It sounded like Ryan and he looked back to see that it was. Brendon had no idea why he was still at the school but he didn’t care because right now he felt just a little better and it was nice. He leaned back into the other boy and slowly stopped crying.
“Brendon, what’s wrong?” Ryan asked, looking at him with a concerned look on his face as soon as all of the sobs drifted away. There was something else on his face, something that Brendon couldn’t place.
“It’s n-nothing important,” he answered, wiping his nose and blinking a little. He took his glasses off and started wiping the lenses on his T-shirt since they had left over dewdrop tears on them.
“Obviously it is something important. People don’t generally cry about things that aren’t,” Ryan answered. There was still that look on his face and it was bugging Brendon that he couldn’t figure out what it meant.
“You know something,” Brendon accused bleakly.
It looked like Ryan was contemplating answering. Then he slowly nodded. “Yeah, I know something. I don’t know if I’m right though so I think you should still tell me what’s up.”
And now Brendon didn’t see a point in keeping it a secret anymore. He just wanted it out there and gone; he didn’t want it to be his secret anymore. He drew in a breath that sounded shaky to him. “I’ve been bullied all week by this group of seven assholes and it’s only gotten worse day by day,” he paused to see Ryan’s reaction. He was still silent and his expression was blank so Brendon continued. “They call me names and gang up on me on my way home after school and they mess with me during classes.”
“What did they do to you today?” Ryan asked, expression still on lockdown.
“I ran away from them this morning and they told me in math that they would get me back at some point. So after school in the bathroom they messed with me and eventually they picked me up and held me in place while the lead guy’s girlfriend kissed me and some other one recorded it,” he said quietly, watching Ryan’s face closely for the whole time.
“Why did they have a girl kiss you?”
“Because I-I’m not completely straight,” he mumbled, just waiting for Ryan to jump away and tell him that he couldn’t be a part of the band anymore. But that didn’t happen.
Ryan sat down more and didn’t move away at all. In fact, he leaned over and hugged him again for just a little before letting go and looking at him. “Come on, you’re coming with me to my house.”
“But my parents don’t know about it,” he said, still in shock from Ryan’s reaction, or lack of one.
“You can always call them, and if your battery’s dead again I do have a landline at my house. Get up, you just had a traumatic experience and you need to be with some friends.” Ryan pulled him up onto his feet and guided him out the door and to his car. They got in and buckled up and the brown-haired teenager drove away from the school.
“Spencer’s probably already there because, like I said, he thinks mine is better than his own. Brent might be there, I don’t know, haven’t had a chance to talk to him lately,” Ryan said, glancing over at him.
Brendon nodded. “Why were you at the school so late?”
Brendon raised an eyebrow. “For what?”
“I think it was for talking back to the art teacher but I’m not sure. It could also be for accidentally parking in an unmarked teacher’s parking spot earlier this week.”
Brendon couldn’t help his smile. “You talked back to the art teacher?”
“Yeah, after class he pulled me aside and told me that I needed to start doing the projects the way he assigned or he would start disciplining me since I obviously don’t care about getting B’s in his class. I told him what I thought about his assignments and that the class was pointless since he was teaching it instead of actually being an artist. I think I even asked him about his qualifications and if DaVinci personally taught him, but I’m not sure because I’ve been fantasizing about saying that for years.”
“I don’t even have words to describe how awesome I think that is.” Ryan shrugged but he was smiling and it made Brendon smile, too.
A minute or two later, Ryan pulled into a driveway and turned the car off. “Welcome to the house of Ryan Ross,” he muttered while Brendon’s mouth dropped open.