Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.
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* * *
Ian shrugged. “It could be worse. Look at it this way, the asshole has left us alone. I don’t have trouble so much at school thinking about Hayden anymore, either. I’m too busy to.”
“Oh God, I will never forget the asshole’s face,” Kane started laughing.
“It was priceless,” Kenji said. “He’s probably still trying to figure out the definition of besmirch. I’d bet he refuses to look it up, too.
“You’re assuming he can read a dictionary,” Ian said, chuckling.
The first day back to school after that weekend had been very rough. Ian tried not to think too much about it. The morning had gone fairly smoothly, his mother even leaving him coffee to get started. The jeep hadn’t even bothered him all that much.
But by the time they got to the school and he approached the lockers, he’d had the image of Hayden leaning on them, waiting for him flash into his head with crystal clarity and it had sucker-punched him. They had all taken lockers next to each other and Hayden’s had been right next to Ian’s. He’d paused to stare a moment and nearly lost it in the hallway, except the asshole had spoken up. Oddly, Ian had been a little grateful for it because he’d been able to channel his emotions into the fight instead.
“Awww, is the little fag missing his dead boyfriend?”
Oh no, he didn’t. “What did you say?” Kane asked, his voice low and dangerous. Kenji stood up from his spot on the other side of Kane.
Ian took a deep breath and held up a hand. “Don’t bother, he’s not worth it. He doesn’t have enough intelligence or feelings for it to bother him. I mean, think about it. If his girlfriend had been killed in a drive-by shooting, he’d just laugh and move on to the next air-headed, slutty cheerleader.”
He saw out of the corner of his eye as the asshole pulled his fist back and Ian spun on the ball of his foot, bringing his hands up. “Go ahead. Please. Give me an excuse.”
They stood, neither moving, neither backing down for a moment. “I promise you that if you say one more thing like that, I will not hesitate. I don’t give a fuck if we’re a few weeks from graduation. I will not stop them the next time.” He stood up out of his stance and stalked toward the asshole, who was still stunned into silence. His voice dropped, just as low and dangerous as Kane’s had been. He didn’t notice the other two take up spots on either side of and slightly behind him—he only found out about it later—but the asshole apparently did, based on his widened eyes. “And I suggest that you reconsider speaking about my boyfriend ever again. I will not allow you to besmirch his memory in any way. In fact, I think, if I were you, that I would find it a good idea to stay on the other side of the school. Do we understand each other?”
The asshole didn’t say anything; his eyes darted from one of them to the next. Ian raised an eyebrow expectantly. “Well?”
Still not saying anything, he dropped his fist, turned on his heel and left. His steps were just a little too fast to be honestly casual, though he tried his best to not look like he was running. Ian smirked. He’d failed miserably.
Ian turned back to the other two. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to face The Bitch.” Ian gave a big smile that didn’t reach his eyes and picked up his bag from where he’d dropped it.
Both Kane and Kenji stared at him. “Remind me not to piss you off,” Kane said and Ian actually chuckled.
“You already knew that.” He smirked. “Let’s go.”
He’d had gone to his teachers, then, to try to get extra credit so that he could do something reasonable with his grades. Most of them had been good and willing to help him. The Bitch lived up to her name, refusing to give him extra credit or anything to help try to improve them. He consoled himself with the fact that he wasn’t majoring in math in college and didn’t really need calculus, anyway.
His physics, history, language and literature teachers were a lot more understanding and accommodating and, though he’d be very busy, his grades in those classes were still salvageable. The gym teacher simply told him not to worry about it, for which he was exceedingly grateful. He didn’t relish the idea of running laps or something to try to make up for ignoring gym class.
With the extra work, even with Kenji and Kane’s help, he’d spent the better part of the last few weeks exhausted, falling into bed and asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. On the few nights he didn’t fall asleep right away, Kane made sure he wasn’t able to think much at all then proceeded to wear him out that little bit more that he’d needed.