"I'm sorry." He mouthed. "So, so sorry."
Warnings: Hints of bullying, death, and similarities to Columbine.
Rating: PG-13. It's not graphic.
I thought everything had changed. That everything was different. He didn't need me anymore, he had his new friends, his track team glory and the girls that came with both. So I'd shrunk back from him, giving him his space and slowly disappearing from his life, only making brief cameos to see him stare right through me, laughing as one of his friends shoved me into a wall of lockers, or tipped the books from my hands. When we were young, he'd get so upset over the bruises on my face, running his fingertips over them, his face inches from mine as he inspected the damage with the utmost care. Then suddenly I wouldn't have been so surprised if it had been his fist that caused them in the first place. So everything had changed, hadn't it?
I wasn't sure when he hesitated, cowering under the bureau against mine, his brown eyes flickering behind their thick glasses frames, brushing over my face for a moment. But when he started to crawl towards me, I knew it wasn't true.
"G-Gerard? I'm so scared, please, Gee, I'm frightened." He whispered, and I could see the tears licking over his eyes, making a film. He was shaking, and one of his hands had grabbed onto my own, holding my knees tight to my body, a ball under the desk as I tried not to be noticed. Our eyes met for a moment, and I released my hands, lowering my knees to the floor so that I sat Indian style. He didn't pause before climbing into my lap, his knees either side of my hips, his head buried in the crook of my neck as he breathed almost silently.
A gunshot sounded only meters from where we were hiding, and he jumped, clutching the back of my neck with a clammy hand. I flinched at his touch, pulling away. His hand loosened, but his fingers stayed, gliding over the crusted bruise his friend Patrick had graced me with this morning, while he watched, unseeing.
"I'm sorry." He mouthed. "So, so sorry." There was a moment in which I was convinced it was fear fuelling this apology, fear that the angst driven teenager simply three strides from here would choose us as his next victims, as his next lesson to the school that let him down. But when his eyes met mine, I knew different. This wasn't a wish for protection, he knew we were lost. This was honesty in it's most raw form, truth and upright remorse.
The gunman moved. We held each other a fraction tighter, never losing eye contact.
"I forgive you." I said silently, booted feet stopping by the desk we cowered beneath, and as the boy who was too young for his destroyed soul began to kneel by our bureau, his shotgun barrel appearing before any feature, we exchanged final utterings of brotherly love.
In our last moment, we knew, nothing's changed.