Colin was determined to find more about Brandey and her gang and, if possible, get her out of it. He already knew that neither Fai nor Lucinda would agree upon it, but he had still called on an emergency meeting. Thus why they were seated in the schoolyard the next day, just before school started.
‘’Even if she is in a gang, what are we going to do about it?’’ Lucinda said, sounding a bit irritated. Colin had expected that reaction though.
‘’What if she’s in it against her will?’’ Colin asked, arms crossed. He was almost a hundred percent certain she wanted to quit but couldn’t, though he wasn’t going to tell his friends that. They would most likely tell him that ‘he couldn’t know that for sure’. He could always remind them that he had known about what was going on in their heads, but he didn’t feel like it.
‘’And that’s our problem why?’’ Lucinda shot back.
‘’We have to help!’’ Colin cried. Fai sighed, while Lucinda glared at him for not saying anything.
‘’Don’t just sigh! Say something!”
‘’You clearly don’t know him enough yet. He’s already made up his mind, Lucinda.’’
Colin grinned to confirm this. He knew it was stupid and dangerous, but he really wanted to help Brandey. He had given it a lot of thought last night, and he had finally figured her out. The wall she had put up was a lot bigger and thicker than Fai’s, but he was halfway through breaking it.
Thus, when lunch break came, Colin made his usual way towards Fai’s classroom. He didn’t take place in his usual spot in front of Fai though. He sat down in front of Brandey again, determined to get her to talk.
Brandey sighed, but ignored him as she kept listening to her iPod.
‘’So… You’re in a gang?’’
‘’That’s cool, I suppose.’’
‘’When did you join?”
‘’Blake seems like a nice guy.’’
Not, but he was pretty sure he’d get a reaction with this.
Aha! A response, Colin thought triumphantly.
‘’Do you like being in a gang?’’ he doubted it, but he’d ask anything to get a reaction from her.
Brandey went back to ignoring him though.
‘’Are you like a mafia family?’’
He could tell she was getting really annoyed with him now. She confirmed his thought by grabbing him by his collar and bringing his face close to hers, much like Blake had done the day before.
Colin saw Fai get up quickly in the corner of his eyes. He heard some classmates run out of the classroom in a hurry to get a teacher.
‘’Listen pipsqueak,’’ Brandey spat, which was kind of funny, since Colin was almost 1.90 meters tall. He would’ve laughed at it if he didn’t want to anger her more. ‘’It’s none of your damn business, understood?’’
Colin quickly nodded and Brandey let go of his collar. He heard someone sigh in relief and knew it was Fai.
‘’Just wanted to know if maybe you needed some saving.’’ Colin muttered, as he made his way back to Fai.
‘’Please tell me you’re going to leave this alone now.’’ Fai moaned. As he had already expected, Colin shook his head.
‘’Not when I finally made progress!’’
‘’Progress? She was ready to beat the crap out of you.’’
‘’But she talked.’’
‘’Yeah, and then she grabbed you by the collar.’’ Fai said as he dropped his head at his desk. Unbelievable. He got up and dragged Colin out of his seat.
‘’I was hoping Lucinda could talk some sense into you.’’
‘’So… You’re in a gang?’’ he asked her after he had sat down in front of her again. She had really hoped that he wouldn’t show up, but she should’ve known better. Did he really want to die that badly?
‘’That’s cool, I suppose.’’
No, it is not, you idiot.
‘’When did you join?’’
Was he serious?
‘’Blake seems like a nice guy’’
Damn it. He had definitely said that to get a reaction from her.
‘’Do you like being in a gang?’’
Something told her that he knew the answer to that. The real answer.
‘’Are you like a mafia family?’’
She was getting really annoyed now. What was with him? Did he have a death wish or something? There was only one way to get him to stay away from her.
She grabbed him by the collar and brought his face close to hers, much like Blake had done the day before. She almost grimaced at this thought. Blake was not someone she aspired to be like.
His friend, Fai Hu, who was sitting not too far away from her, quickly got up. Some of her classmates ran out of the classroom in a hurry to get a teacher.
‘’Listen pipsqueak,’’ she spat. Did she really just call him pipsqueak when he was almost as tall as Blake? ‘’It’s none of your damn business, understood?’’
Colin quickly nodded and Brandey let go of his collar. Feeling guilty, she quickly looked away from him and looked at her desk.
‘’Just wanted to know if maybe you needed some saving.’’ Colin muttered, as he made his way back to Fai. She stared at him dumbfounded. That boy really did have a death wish! Save her? He’d be the one who’d need saving! He was going to end up dead in the gutter and he didn’t even know it!
‘’She did what?’’ Lucinda had crossed her arms and looked like she was about to explode. She hadn’t liked Brandelyn from the start. Fai had told her how rude she had been towards Colin the other day, which was unheard of. The nerve of that girl! Colin was just being nice and she had just ignored him.
Yep, she definitely didn’t like Brandelyn and getting involved with a gang didn’t sound very appealing to her. Colin getting involved with a gang wasn’t a very pleasant thought either.
‘’But I got her to talk!’’ Colin backfired, determination in his eyes.
Lucinda groaned and let herself drop on the floor. They were in an empty classroom, where they knew for sure that they’d have a private conversation.
‘’Can you believe this kid?’’ she asked Fai, who sighed in response.
‘’That’s why I dragged him here. I was hoping you could get him to stop.’’
‘’Just what’s the problem?’’ Colin cried.
‘’She. Is. Violent.’’ Lucinda stated as a matter of fact. ‘’That’s the problem.’’
She couldn’t believe Colin really didn’t see that.
‘’Look, I appreciate your concerns, but guys, I’ll be fine!’’ Colin lied. For the first time since Lucinda had known him, she saw right through him. He knew that there was a high risk of him getting hurt.
‘’Don’t worry, ‘kay?’’
Lucinda and Fai looked at each other. They did the exact opposite of what Colin told them. How could they not be concerned when their friend was getting involved with a gang?
‘’How’s the gang Brandey?’’ Colin grinned when the redhead approached the school gate where he had been waiting for her.
‘’Fine.’’ Brandey grumbled as she walked straight past him as fast as she could.
Unfortunately for her, Colin was pretty fast himself. Damn those long legs, she thought bitterly.
‘’That’s cool. Are you heading to that playground again?’’
‘’Don’t follow me.’’ she quickly said, remembering Blake’s words from the other day. Damn it, she had failed masking her concern for him.
‘’I’m not. My house just happens to be across from it.’’
‘’Then go a different way. We can’t be seen together.’’ Brandey started to walk even faster than before. Colin was able to keep up without difficulty though.
Brandey sighed and stopped walking to face him.
‘’Because Blake won’t like it.’’ she told him flatly.
‘’Are you afraid of Blake?’’ he asked her.
Aren’t you? She scowled though, not wanting him to know how she really felt. He had killed. In front of her.
‘’Of course not.’’
‘’You do look afraid.’’ Colin noted. Brandey frowned internally. How did he…? Even her own mother never noticed when she was acting. Then again, her mother didn’t exactly know her that well… But neither did this kid. Just who did he think he was?
‘’Just leave me alone, Walker.’’ Brandey started walking again. Colin didn’t follow her this time.
‘’Sorry , can’t do.’’ Colin smiled. Brandey turned around to face him again.
‘’Do you have some kind of mental confliction?’’ Brandey asked angry. ‘’What part of ‘leave me alone’ don’t you understand? I don’t want to have anything to do with you and neither should you want to have anything to do with me.''
‘’Why? Because everyone else wants nothing to do with you?’’ Colin retorted. His eyes looked sad and there was a small smile on his face.
Brandey was taken aback by this comment. Just what was with this guy? Why was he standing there like some kind of wise old guy who could see right through you? Who was he, Dumbledore?
‘’I’ve got friends.’’ she spat.
‘’You’ve got a gang. That’s not the same.’’ Colin looked sympathetic. He didn’t even resemble the annoying happy-go-lucky kid from earlier.
‘’How would you know?’’ she raised her voice. She was really getting annoyed now. What did he know? He wasn’t in a gang. He didn’t know protocol and he didn’t know her. Even though, she hated to admit it, he seemed to know her better than her parents. He seemed to know her better than herself.
‘’You’re afraid of Blake, that’s not friendship.’’ he told her as he shook his head. That small smile was still on his face.
‘’Fine, so Blake and I aren’t friends. No one’s friends with Blake-‘’
‘’And no one’s friends with you either.’’
She opened her mouth in anger. She wanted to yell at him that he was wrong. That she did have friends, but she knew that wasn’t true. She closed her mouth and did the one thing she hadn’t done in years; she cried. She hadn’t cried this much in forever, crying out all her pains from the past few years. She felt the pavement hitting her knees and arms embracing her.
‘’It’s okay,’’ Colin whispered in her hair. ‘’You’re not alone anymore.’’
They sat there for what felt like hours. After a while Colin couldn’t feel his legs anymore. He didn’t get up before Brandey had stopped crying though.
‘’I… I can’t quit. Blake won’t let me.’’ Brandey sobbed after a while, wiping away her tears.
‘’Don’t let him in control of your life anymore. You’re your own person, Brandey.’’ Colin smiled while he let go of her. They both got up.
‘’The last time someone quit-‘’
‘’Don’t think about that,’’ Colin put a hand on her arm. ‘’Everything will be alright.''
For the first time since Colin had known the girl, she smiled. An actual smile. It fitted her a lot better than that scowl she always wore.
‘’By the way!’’ Colin suddenly exclaimed, remembering that she still hadn’t answered his question from the previous day.
‘’Do you play guitar?’’
Brandey stared at him in astonishment. Then she did something else she hadn’t done in years; she laughed. She laughed like she had never laughed before.
Colin stared at her in confusion.
‘’Just what kind of question is that after you just saw someone break down?’’ she laughed.
Colin grinned his usual boyish grin.
‘’I just remembered that you hadn’t answered my question from yesterday yet.’’
‘’Oh yeah, the guitar thing…’’
‘’Fai, Lucinda and I have a band!’’ he exclaimed, smiling cheerfully. Then he started telling the entire story of how he had asked pretty much every person in the entire school and they had all said no, how he had persuaded Fai, how they had met ‘the devil’, how they found out Lucinda had an amazing singing voice but that she had been in the track and field team. How he had asked her every day if she wanted to join his band (and pretty much stalked her, he felt he could admit that to Brandey) until one day she suddenly said yes. And then he told her that they only needed a guitarist now.
‘’So I was kind of hoping you played…’’ Colin said hopefully, not meeting her eyes.
‘’Well, I haven’t played in a while but…’’
‘’Great!’’ Colin grinned. ‘’Welcome to the band!’’