Without Apology – Episode 2

School. A heavy sigh moved slowly through Kuro’s lips. He stared up at the four-storey building, “what will our last year be like?”

High school kids ranging from juniors to seniors moved past without noticing him. They were all a part of their own cliques. Groups he had no hope of joining. He stumbled when someone bumped into him. There was a passing apology. Head down, Kuro nodded acceptance. The hands upon his bag strap trembled.

Inside the school he found this year’s classroom. Top floor near the back stairwell. The urge to knock moved his hand towards the door, but sense stalled him. No one knocked on a classroom door unless class had already started. That wasn’t the case right now. The sound of kids socializing before class reached through the door. Nervously, he pushed his way inside. A few turned to glance but seeing that it was only him they went back to their conversations quickly.

The room was big! Bigger than the last few years. ‘Does that mean our class is combined this year? If it does, then that would mean that…’

His eyes scanned the room surreptitiously. A mixture of faces, but none to take note of. And none to take note of him thankfully. With an almost delicate grace, he wove his way through the kids. The back of the classroom meant that eyes were less likely to be on him. That was the goal!

Nearing it meant that his first hurdle of the year had been tackled. A few more steps and it would be with success. His eyes were locked upon the seat. Back corner near the wall, furthest from the windows. No one really wanted to sit back here. And with only one open desk in this row, only a loner like him would be interested in being isolated.

“Worm!” a heavy hand landed upon his shoulders.

Flinching came naturally, but it also came too late. The arm across his shoulders ensured that he wasn’t slipping away.

“S-sir,” he stammered softly.

“Man, Bryson and I missed you over the summer!”

Slowly, he dared a glance up. It seemed to his eyes that the boy next to him had gotten a lot taller over the past months. “You did?”

“Sure,” Bryson’s narrowed eyes were laughing, “Silas and I were stuck doing everything for ourselves. Sucks not having your lacky nearby.”

“Next summer, you’re gonna keep in touch,” Silas ordered him.

“But next summer we’ll graduate,” he pointed out softly.

“You talking back to your superior, worm?” Silas’ grip on his shoulder tightened cruelly.

Tears touched the corners of his eyes, “no sir.”

“Didn’t think so,” Silas laughed. “Now get us some drinks.”

He was shoved hard into an empty desk. His bag hit the ground as his butt hit the seat. “But class is about to start.”

“Then get moving quickly,” Bryson gave the cold suggestion.

“But I,” he reached for his bag as he got up.

“Don’t worry, we’ll set up your desk,” Silas picked up his dropped bag. His tone didn’t exactly instill confidence in Kuro.

With a kick, Silas sent him in the direction of the door. Kids around them saw the exchange but no one interfered. No one ever did. If he hesitated, class would begin before he could get back. Quickly, with his head down, Kuro left the classroom.

The cafeteria was on the first floor, but there was a vending machine on the floor below theirs. From his pocket he pulled out the bit of cash he had. There was enough to get both guys a drink. He did his best to select the ones they would probably want.

Drinks in hand, he hurried back to the class. The din of voices told him that the teacher hadn’t yet arrived. At that, relief flooded through him. His shoulder pushed the door open. Always cautious, he glanced about as he started to make his way through the classroom towards Silas and Bryson.

And that was when he felt his heart skip a beat! Across the room, by the windows, Dasai sat with other students.

‘We haven’t been in the same class since eighth grade. What will he think?’

“Hey, worm. You made it,” Silas’ loud voice pulled his attention.

He stopped short. The desk he’d wanted was now occupied by Silas. Bryson had evicted the student in the desk just ahead. The desk Kuro had been shoved into earlier was now claimed as his. His books were dumped over top with several having fallen to the floor. The yogurt he’d put in his bag was dumped over it all creating a mess.

“Looks like you spilled your lunch when you dropped your bag,” Silas moved over to him.

It was then that he’d realized that the sandwiches he’d packed were being eaten by Silas and Bryson. They made no move to hide this, and seemed to be enjoying the reaction he was giving them.

“Hey, our drinks,” Silas took them, tossing one over to Bryson.

Head down, Kuro got to work cleaning up his books and desk. Silas and Bryson were back to their conversation.

Across the classroom, Dasai watched with narrowed eyes.

“Who’s that?” Dasai was watching with open loathing at the two boys harassing Kuro.

With cruel laughter, they were watching Kuro clean up the mess they’d made.

“Oh, they’re Silas and Bryson. Our class bullies,” Emmett sighed with boredom. Emmett was a flamboyant boy who favored sparkles and bright colors, and one of Dasai’s few school friends.

“Who’s that with them?” empathy under the guise of mothering was Darcy’s second strongest suit. It was Emmett that brought Darcy into their friendship, making it a small circle. She was a boisterous little spitfire whose only large feature was her mouth.

“Uhh,” Emmett struggled.

“You don’t even know his name?” Dasai was pissed!

“Well, in my defence, even the teachers don’t know his name,” Emmett excused himself. “I don’t know if anyone does.”

“That’s sad,” Darcy’s sympathetic tone fell short of action.

“Sad?” Emmett questioned. “Smart. In the three years I’ve been in the same class, he’s never been called on ‘cuz the teachers don’t want to admit that they don’t know who he is. He’s never had to give a report, or speak in public. Never had to read out loud in front of the class. The other students can’t call them out on it ‘cuz we also don’t know his name. The kid’s a closet genius for figuring out how to do that.”

Dasai glared across the room. Kuro seemed to sense it. A blush ran over his neck, and from the corner of his eye he dared a glance. Spotting Dasai’s direct gaze, Kuro’s fell back to his now clean desk.

The cool water of the shower ran over Kuro’s upturned face. The spray was enough to hurt the bruise on his cheek, but the need to wash off the events was strong. Sadly, his mind wouldn’t come clean so easily. The scene replayed when he closed his eyes.

Though the end of the school day was an anticipated moment for most kids his age, for Kuro it was just another hurdle to overcome. It was as he was walking the nearly empty school that it happened. Having pent up energy from the summer break, Silas and Bryson were eager to make up for lost time. They’d cornered him in the stairwell. He wasn’t strong enough to stop them as they dragged him into the washrooms where they gave him a swirly. Several of them. During these, his face hit the side of the toilet seat causing the bruise.

After they’d had their fun, Kuro was left to hurry home alone. No one was here when he’d arrived, which was a huge relief for it allowed him to run upstairs and hit the shower without anyone asking why he was soaked only from his shoulders up.

The rinse washed out of his hair leaving it feeling silky and clean once more. A glance at his watch showed that it was time to get out. He wanted to have supper going before Dasai’s mom got home, and Dasai would need the shower as soon as he got home.

Stepping out, he dried off and got changed. He hung the large towel on the rack to dry, used the hand towel to wipe down the shower, and used a third to help dry his hair. The last was upon his head when he opened the bathroom door.

“Sorry,” he squeaked because he’d nearly collided with Dasai! Hurried was his explanation, “the shower’s free. I only used cold water, so there’s plenty of hot for you. I’ll get supper going right away.”

“Shut-up,” Dasai held his shoulders.

The tone was sharp, but the hold was…gentle! It was the first time since they were kids that Dasai had touched him. The odor of sweat mingling with something unknown to Kuro was Dasai’s unique scent. At least it was for this short time between now and when he had a shower. Kuro stared blankly at the floor.

The towel moved from his head because Dasai took it. The side of his finger lifted Kuro’s face, “what’s this?”

He felt flushed, “I tripped.” The towel was thrown back at him. Dasai moved on past to his room. Kuro took a step back, his eyes upon Dasai’s closing door. Slowly, he turned to go prepare supper.