Four.Mature

The next day, Wednesday.

 There was still a thudding pain in my head when Darcy decided she would wake me up by licking my face. Normally I would have pushed her off the bed and made her leave my room but I was sort of glad of her cooling off my face so I just wrapped my arms around her and pulled her away from my face. She was just like a big teddy bear.

 “You getting up Frank?” My Mom’s footsteps lead away from my bedroom door and downstairs, presumably to make breakfast.

 Normally I woke up and got up of my own accord before she did so the mornings that she got up she always made me some form of nice cooked breakfast.

 “Yeah. I'm just... just gimme a minute.” It wasn’t loud enough for her to hear but I felt like if I said it then it would be true and I only needed another few seconds or so before I got out of bed. Darcy made a noise like she was agreeing with me.

 “Frank, Come on, get up. I thought you were awake half an hour ago!” This time Moms soft voice wasn’t just from a passing position past my door but from right next to my bed, so close that I jumped before my mind could tell me that it was only my Mom in my room. She placed a cold hand on my head. “Are you feeling okay Frankie?”

 She so quickly changed her tone of voice. It was always soft but she was slightly annoyed at me before, like she had made the effort to get up and I had just ignored that she was trying to be a proper Mom, but now she sounded more sympathetic. It shouldn’t have annoyed me that she sounded caring, I just didn’t feel like I needed her to be extra caring towards me for any reason.

 “Your face is soaking.”

 “Darcy was licking my face.” It was an accusation towards what was a slightly un-innocent pet who just jumped off my bed as though I had offended her.

 “No Frank. You’re not well.”

 “I only banged my head.” My eyes still weren’t open so I just rolled away from where my Mom was and wrapped the blanket around myself. To credit my Mom I felt like crap, my skin was freezing but when the air hit me I realised that I must have been burning hot. “I’ll go get dressed,” I grabbed some clothes off the floor, I didn’t know if they were clean or anything else like that, “is breakfast still on the table?” I didn’t wait long enough to hear her answer, instead I just headed out of my room and to the bathroom.

 “You look like crap.” Mikey smiled at me when I turned up at my back gate wearing a huge puffy coat. It wasn’t cold enough for me to be wrapped up the way I was, but my Mom was right when she said that I wasn’t well.

 “I really needed to hear that.”

 Mikey blabbered on at me about Gerard for the rest of the walk to school, about how he had told Mikey that we sorted it out when we saw each other at the park. “Well what he really said was that he and someone else had sorted everything out, I assumed he meant you, why else would he have told me, but he might have just been so deluded that he was talking about Charlotte.” Mikey was talking so fast it would have been hard for me to understand what he was saying even if my head hadn’t been full of fluff.

 “Well he still seemed nervous and to be honest I think he looked sad, but happy as well. It’s hard to tell what he’s talking about sometimes, or what he’s thinking, although...” Mikey stopped talking to look at me. “I could say the same about you. What is wrong with you today!?” Mikey was obviously annoyed that I wasn’t more happy that Gerard had talked to me yesterday.

 “There’s grass in my head.” My mumble wasn’t enough for Mikey so I carried on. “When I saw Gerard at the park we... Darcy pushed us over and I hit my head on the floor really hard and I think all the grass and dirt went into my head because I’ve been feeling really dizzy ever since.”

 “That does explain why you’re wearing that...” Mikey tried to hide a smirk while he looked over my attire.

 “What?” I was more than confused as I looked down to see myself wearing some old trousers that were covered in dried glue and paint and were basically falling apart. Under my coat, which I had now unbuttoned and let the cold breeze blow through, was a christmas cardigan my Auntie had made me and a florescent green vest. I understood why Mikey had been surprised about my choice of clothing for the day. “Is there time for me to go home and change?” I knew there wouldn’t be but I wished there was.

 All I got from Mikey was a sympathetic smile, but it still made me feel slightly better.

 “Are you alright Frankie?” Kristin quickly sat in the seat next to me before Mikey had the chance to. It was Tutor for an hour so all we basically did was talk, I would have much preferred if Mikey had sat next to me. On Mornings when he went to his locker and I told him that I would meet him in the form room Kristin always sat next to me. It never crossed my mind that I should go with Mikey until it was too late.

 “Yeah, just a little dizzy” I tried to smile at her but it was hard to smile at anyone who was annoying you. She would expect me to answer her all the time even if she didn’t care what I had to say.

 Mikey would be blabbering too, but it was because he knew to. He knew that if I didn’t feel like talking that I wouldn’t so he would talk so I didn’t have to, plus he didn’t expect me to have any input on our conversations. He was a good friend like that.

 “Oh. Why did you come into school? You don’t look like you’re feeling too good.” Her eyes fell on what I was wearing just as Mikeys had.

 I had taken off the christmas cardigan and buttoned up my coat. It didn’t look as bad but it was still quite a shock even to me. “I didn’t want to miss the day. I'm really not feeling that bad and it’s not contagious or anything ... all I did was bang my head.” This time I didn’t even try to smile, it would have been pointless either way.

 “Well let’s hope you feel better for your birthday. I would hate for you to not be feeling well then, I mean who wants to feel bad on their birthday?” I just nodded, not being able to manage real words. “I remember once when I was really sick on my birthday and I had to cancel my party but I had one the next week to make up for it. I was so sad; it was like I couldn’t see any of my friends because they might have caught what I had. It was horrible.” Kristin had obviously given up on trying to get a response from me so she just kept talking. “My Mom found some old Halloween decorations that I thought would be good for your party, I mean they are basically just Halloween things, nothing to do with parties and stuff but I thought you would like them anyway and I know that you don’t want everyone to know that it’s your birthday. Oh and my sister is going to get all the food and stuff because she really likes to cook and so she said she would do the catering so it’s going to be great. And the best part ... I can’t believe I forgot to tell you... she’s going to get some drinks as well. She said she won’t get lots because we’re only fifteen but she said she would get some! Isn’t that great!?” Kristin looked at me now like she had said something that she really wanted my opinion on.

 “Yeah. Great.” I had no clue what I had just agreed to. I really hoped that it was a bouncy castle but I doubted that she would really be that fun. Kristin was ‘cool’ and although she was nice to me I had no doubt that she didn’t know how to have proper fun.

 “That was the most painful hour of my life!” I half smiled to Mikey when we were out of the room and Kristin had hugged me, but not Mikey, said good bye and told me that I ‘just had to’ get better quickly.

 “You’re telling me! Jack didn’t shut up once about how his brothers going to kill Gee. And the worst thing you ask?” Mikey stopped to give me a chance to ask what the worst thing was.

 “What’s worse than having to talk to Jack?”

 “Martins in school today.” Mikey dodged a group of people walking right into us. “And so is Gee.”

 For some reason my mind wasn’t telling me why this was a bad thing. There were the two people wafting around in my head but for some reason I just couldn’t make a connection.

 “Frankie!” Mikey tried to prompt me.

 “But you said that they sorted it out.” Wasn’t that obvious to Mikey too? “You said that Gerard was sad, but happy. Doesn’t that mean that they broke up or whatever so he was sad, but happy because it means that Martin isn’t going to kill him?” I was making perfect sense to me.

 “I thought he was talking about you though!”

 “No. We sorted nothing out. Sure we talked and stuff but nothing helpful, as far as I know I'm still pissed at him for drinking and smoking and kissing that girl and saying that he was going to abandon us and he’s still pissed at me for being pissed at him.” My mind was trying to keep up with itself. Unsuccessfully.

 “When did he say he was going to abandon us?” It seemed odd that Mikey would have picked up on that rather than the fact that we hadn’t sorted anything out.

 “In his sleep the other night when he came home drunk and scared the hell out of us both. That’s against the point though. You’re saying that Gerard thought he had sorted it out with Charlotte but Martin is going to beat him up anyway?” I was offended that Mikey wasn’t more concerned about his brothers safety, even I was concerned and I was if anything more angry at him.

 “I expect so.” His voice was so calm and steady.

 “You already have a plan?” It was like a weight off my shoulders.

 “You thought that I was just going to let him beat up my brother?” Mikey faked hurt but smiled and pushed me into our Geography classroom. Everyone stared when we barged in slightly late.

 “Boys?”

 “Sorry we’re late.” Quickly the both of us rushed to our seats even though we knew we weren’t in that much trouble, we were always late after Tutor, today only by five or so minuets, it wasn’t one of our latest entrances.

 “What’s this plan then?” The rest of the room was filling in sheets that had something to do with rivers or trees... or mountains... so no one realised when me and Mikey started talking about something very un-Geography related.

 “Well I hear that Martins really protective of his brother.”

 “I'm not kidnapping anyone.”

 “What I mean is ... do you remember when Mrs Roberts gave him a detention?”

 I didn’t have to think much. “Yeah. And Martin spent no time at all going to complain to her, and then the head of year, and then the principle.” I began to see where Mikey was going with this.

 “We just need to get Jack into trouble again.”

 “Shouldn’t be too hard.”

 “And then we just have to make sure that Martin finds out before he see’s Gee. It will give us at least a day to sort something better out, and who knows; maybe he will have given up by now. It’s been a few days anyway. Saturday night was ages away really...” Mikey seemed over confident about his plan, but I had to admit I wanted it to work.

 “He made out with her twice in school yesterday.”

 “Didn’t know that...” All the confidence drained from Mikey. I almost wished that I hadn’t told him.

 “It will be fine... I'm sure he’ll be fine.”

 “He never had a reason to beat us up... and we still got it pretty bad... imagine what he’s going to do to Gee. He has a reason to hate Gee.”

 “What are you two boys talking about back here? It doesn’t sound much like the work I set you.” Miss Green hovered in front of our desk, looking at our mostly blank sheets.

 “Oh. Yeah. Seems like you’re right there Miss.” It was a long shot but it was better than her keeping us after class to finish the work. “We were just discussing... We’ll just get this done for you.” I flashed her a grin and both me and Mikey instantly starting filling in each answer.

 Miss Green had no reason to dislike me and Mikey. We were both good at Geography even if we never paid much attention in class. It was one of the only lessons we had together when we actually got to sit next to each other, and today we had a very good reason for not paying attention, only we couldn’t tell her why because then Gerard and Martin would get in a hell load of trouble.

 “Just try to finish it on time.” She laid another couple of sheets on our table then when to torment the next desk along.

 “When’s your next lesson with Jack?” My pen scratched across the paper too loudly in the classroom that was already noisy.

 “No. We’re going to have to get him into trouble at recess. There’s no way that Gee will have until lunch.” Mikey looked over to me and I hated the look in his eyes. “He won’t hit me; he’d just go get Martin to do that.”

 “I'm not going to let you get punched just so Gerard can get off this for a day.” It was a stupid plan; Mikey must have known that I wouldn’t let him get hurt for his brother. “I’ll get in trouble before he does.” We both knew that I wouldn’t stand back and let Mikey get hurt, he was my best friend.

 “You don’t interfere too much when it’s Martin.”

 “Because we both know that if I fought back with Martin he would just come back again and get us worse than before.”

 We both knew that I was right although Mikey still seemed convinced that his plan was the only plan. I knew slightly better.

 “We need Kristin to help.”

 “No.”

 “Here me out Mikes. You know that Jack has the biggest crush on her. If he sees you to being all lovey and stuff then he’s going to get really angry, then before he does anything I’ll go get a teacher and tell them that I saw Jack going to start a fight with you, before we know it he’s in trouble and Martin is having a go at the teachers instead of beating up your brother.”  It was the best plan we had, although I didn’t know if Mikey could pull of being all cutsie and I didn’t know if Kristin could act that was towards Mikey.

 “I... I um ... I don’t know ... It won’t really work... he doesn’t have that big a crush on her.”

 “Come on Mikes. Would you rather this or get me into trouble for hitting Jack?” I hoped that he would agree with me.

 “Fine. Go find her when we get out of class. I’ll ... I’ll go wait for you both outside. You know where Jack and his friends hang out right?”

 “’Course.” I started to not like the tone of Mikeys voice, but he wouldn’t tell me why even if I asked. We were best friends but there were still things that we didn’t tell each other. 

 “I still think my plan would work better.”

 “It’s a stupid plan. All it would do would be to get me in trouble and then Martin would beat me up too for hitting Jack. It’s stupid, trust me on this.”

 Mikey looked awkward and Kristin looked uncomfortable while I watched Jack watching them. His face was almost visibly growing redder as they say there holding hands with their faces close together. It was only a matter of time before he had enough and went over to tell them to ‘knock it off’. Of course Mikey would tell him to mind his own business and then everything would kick off and it would be my job to go get a teacher.

 Neither of us had seen Gerard or Martin since we got out of Geography and set our plan straight into motion, so for all we knew Gerard was already being beaten up, all we could do was hope that Gerard would be clever enough to avoid Martin but it wasn’t a given that Gerard would do that. I hoped that Ray was with him. Ray’s clever, he wouldn’t let Gerard be stupid enough not to avoid Martin, or even worse go looking for him.

 Jack got up, just what I had been waiting for, and headed over to where Kristin and Mikey were sat. I wasn’t sure whether I should go get a teacher now or wait until something actually happened, but I was scared that if I waited any longer Mikey would actually get hurt. Mikey looked at me when he saw Jack going towards him, I took that as the all clear so started to leave to get a teacher, preferable Mr Oats, he hated Jack as it was, plus he was the music teacher who liked me and Mikey purely because we were good at music. If anyone would give Jack a detention even if all he had done was to get angry at Mikey it was going to be Mr Oats.

I hadn’t even got as far as the court yard separating the music block from the rest of the school when I saw a crowd of people and knew that our plan had taken effect too late.

 “Mikey,” I yelled while running back to where I could see Mikey getting into a fake argument with Jack. His head snapped in my direction. “Plans off.” There wasn’t much more I needed to say for Mikey to understand what I was telling him. Just as I turned around to go running back to where I saw the crowd of people I saw Mikey start to sprint after me.

 There was no reason for either of us to go to the crowd; there was nothing either of us would be able to do to stop what was going to happen. All either of us would be able to do was watch as Gerard got hurt and everyone cheered on.

 I hit the edge of the crowd, trying to push my way through, but the people just pushed me back, there was no way I was getting through them.

 Mikey stopped next to me, looking at me with a confused expression before standing on his tip toes to try to see over the head of everyone else.

 “Oh my god. Principle Isaacs!” Mikey shouted over the hum of the people, everyone freaked slightly and a few people left before they could get in trouble. The people who were left took time to look around, trying to see the feared Principle of the school.

 Mikey grabbed my hand and pulled me through the mass of people right to the centre where Gerard was dodging hits but never throwing any of his own. I guess that making us play dodge ball as a sport had some advantages. Ray stood on the other side of the inner crowd still trying to get past a few people. He must have seen me and Mikey because he shouted “sorry” towards us and shook his head. Charlotte was standing near the two of them with someone holding one of her arms, like she was trying to get in the fight too.

 “Please stop! Martin this is stupid. I don’t even like him. We were both drunk you know what people are like when they’re drunk. He didn’t know any better!”

 I had to replay everything she said before I understood that she was trying to stop the fight.

 “You’re telling me that he was drunk yesterday at school?” Martin threw another fist towards Gerard.

 “No... But you have to trust me on this, just leave him alone, you know he’s not worth it, and if you get a detention for this I won’t be able to see you for another week.” The purr in her voice made me hate her even more.

 Martin tensed but stepped away from Gerard like he was actually backing down, Gerard stayed where he was, looking like he wasn’t sure whether he could trust this retreat from Martin.

 Everyone else was board of this, no one had been hit yet and now there wasn’t going to be a fight at all? It was hardly worth sticking around to see the end of it all. Only me, Ray, Mikey and a few others stayed to make sure this was the end of it all.

 “Gerard, walk away.” Charlotte went to stand next to Martin and held one of his arms. She didn’t look sorry enough, just as though this was a minor disruption to her day. I still didn’t understand why she would stop Martin from hurting Gerard though; there had been so many other guys that had been beaten up for doing a lot less with her than Gerard had. There was no way she actually liked him, there had to be another reason.

 Just as Gerard turned to leave Martin took the opportunity to catch him off guard and went to punch Gerard. For some reason Gerard didn’t see this, or thought that he actually deserved this, which I had to agree he sort of did, but I stood in anyway.

 My hand caught Martins just before it hit Gerards shoulder and my foot came down hard on Martins left foot. I pushed Martins fist away from me and then went back to Mikey, taking his arm and pulling him away from the scene with me.

 “I am sick of this.”I fumed as we walked away, Mikey still looking over his shoulder.

 “I think I just hallucinated that you stopped Martin from punching Gee.” His voice was slow, like he really didn’t think that I had just done what I did and that he really had imagined it. “Frankie tell me you didn’t just do that!”

 His demand was echoed from behind me by two other people. Ray and Gerard had jogged over to us and were looking at me like I had gone crazy.

 “Like I said. I am sick of this.” Without thinking I turned around, swinging Mikey with me, and glared at Gerard. “You owe me double now.”

 His face told me that he had no idea why he owed me double.

 “I stopped Martin from punching you AND you didn’t look after me yesterday.” I let go of Mikeys arm and stormed off to my next lesson. Maths. I didn’t have the lesson with Mikey or Kristin so I sat on my own; I really needed to be on my own.

 “He’s got grass in his head.” I heard Mikey smile from behind me, I was glad that he knew that I was still acting like me, and that he was still acting like him. Gerard wasn’t himself; at least my other best friend was still himself.

The End

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