Please just let it get back to normal!
The previous evening, Ryan had made his own way home before it had grown too late. He’d taken his bike saying that a bit of fresh air wouldn’t do him any harm. As far as Luke could tell, he’d seemed in a good mood.
That morning, they’d got into school at a reasonable time despite all the commotion of the previous day, and Luke kept an eye on the classroom entrance. Ryan hadn’t been among the other early arrivals, and Luke’s eyes kept flicking in the direction of the door as more started to arrive. Counting them off, all he could do was hope!
More students arrived, most clumping together in small groups to chat, but frustratingly, Ryan wasn't among them. Then, Todd came through the door. After scanning the room, he made a beeline for Luke.
Todd got straight to the point. “He’s not here?”
Luke shook his head. “Not yet.” He tried to keep the niggling concern out of his voice as he wondered if they were in for another no-show, adding, “He—”
Maybe Luke could have saved himself the worry as whistles and a raucous cheer erupted around them. He twisted towards the door, but already guessed the reason for the outburst. At the doorway, Ryan had paused. His face darkened, but he lowered his head and stepped towards his desk.
Hands slapped on desks in a show of teasing humor, and in the middle of it, a mocking groan, “Nnnnnngggg....FUUUCK”.
Luke ground his teeth as Ethan Parker couldn’t avoid taking the piss.
Leave him alone, you shitheads!
“Okay, assholes. You’ve had your fun!” Luke was surprised to see Kieran step up to the plate. “Enough already!”
There was more jeering, but it began to peter off. Then, as Scott Landon stepped through he door, it stopped altogether. The first thing Luke noticed was the satisfyingly bruised mouth. The second thing was the smug look on Mitchell's face as he stood by Landon’s side.
To be fair, Landon looked truly crap. A silver cap had replaced a front tooth. Luke assumed (rightly) that it was some temporary crown. The boy’s upper lip looked a little puffy. Add extensive bruising to the effect, and he looked a complete mess.
He also looked quite hateful. And behind them both came Richard Head, the principal's weasel-faced administrator.
Dickhead, as they usually called him—and what the fuck were his parents even thinking—liked to act as the principal’s hatchet man. He called himself the Senior Administrator, though was actually nothing more than a nasty secretary. Nobody knew that much about him other than he was unmarried, unpleasant, and lived to come into the school to make the students’ lives miserable if he could manage it.
The unfortunately-named administrator moved past Landon and Mitchell without a word. His eyes flicked around the class, landed on Ryan, and he barked, “Alexis.” The tone was crisp and hungry.
Silently, Ryan stood. He must have felt it coming, too.
“Come with me." Dickhead studied him with baleful eyes. "Now.”
The order was abrupt, and every eye followed the extraction. As Ryan passed by him, Mitchell’s lips twitched, his faced suffused with some apparent sense of satisfaction. The door closed with a bang as Dickhead took both Ryan and Landon with him.
Luke might have followed them immediately, had not Mr. Norton pushed open the door and entered just then
“Quiet down!” Norton barked against the hubbub of noise that had erupted as he lost no time in taking the class attendance.
Having watched the door close behind Ryan, it was a long five, worrying minutes before Luke could confront Mitchell. He wasn’t alone as, out in the corridor after homeroom, Mitchell was rapidly enveloped by interrogators. Luke pushed into the circle, but Mitchell saw him coming and tried to turn away. Roughly, he grabbed his arm.
“Get the fuck off me!” Mitchell wrenched himself free.
“Where’s Ryan gone?” He didn’t doubt he was with Benton, the Academy’s principal, and there was also little question that this had everything to do with the beating Landon had received two days previously. The question really was, ‘what the hell was happening now?’
“Don’t ask me?” returned Mitchell, the crowing tone poorly hidden. “But my guess is that Alexis is getting what he deserves!” He tried, unsuccessfully, to push his way out of the circle, adding, “Look, if you want to know, they’re both with Benton—as is Scott’s father.”
Mitchell paused for effect, before landing his knockout punch. “He was pretty pissed off as far as I could see!”
If he was hoping this would all go down well, he was mistaken. The circle tightened and he quickly held up his hands, backing away from his previous appearance of satisfaction. “Look—that’s all I know!”
“So what are they going to do?” demanded Miller.
“No idea, Adam.” Mitchell tried to brush it off. “Probably just get his hand slapped, knowing Benton.”
Luke doubted it, though it seemed to satisfy the others. Ignoring them, he spun and headed away. Todd was right on his heels as he hurried towards where Ryan would have been taken.
At the end of the corridor, Luke paused. “Look...Todd..." he muttered.
Beyond them was the entry to the school’s administration section. Nobody liked going in there, but Luke remained determined as he peered through the windows in the double doors and added, "There’s no point in both of us getting burnt.”
“You’re going in then?” Todd was uncharacteristically nervous.
“You bet I am! And don’t worry, it won’t take long!”
Leaving Todd, Luke pushed open the doors and passed through. At once, the hard floors turned more opulent and the usual noises of school life were muted as the doors swung shut behind him.
He strode down an empty corridor that had extensive offices branching off on either side, and turned the corner at the end…and ran straight into Landon. There was nobody else in sight and Landon glared.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Landon demanded. He tried to push by, but Luke blocked his path.
"Out of my way!" ground Landon. Perhaps the asshole was trying to appear tough, though he actually seemed a little scared.
Luke didn't beat around the bush. "So are you going to tell them, Scott, or am I?”
"Tell them what?" Landon snorted, but his eyes became wary.
"I don’t know—where shall we start?” Luke’s voice was cold but composed. “Maybe we could begin with Monday, just for a little background? We could start with how you stripped Ryan naked, hung him upside-down, spanked his backside, and then forcibly jacked him off until he ejaculated. You liked that, didn’t you?"
With the untroubled way that he explicitly depicted this unspoken demon, Landon paled. His face twitched and he swallowed.
That's right, you shithead...dare me...
Luke broke the tense silence. "Let me guess. You forgot to mention that to Daddy or Benton, then?"
Landon got his voice back. “That’s got nothing to do with this,” he hissed. “I never hurt him! We were just messing around. But look at this,” he pointed to his face in anger. “Alexis fucking assaulted me!”
“Assault? You want to talk about assault now, Scott?” Luke burst out laughing. The sudden barking caused Landon to flinch, though it was a sound lacking in anything remotely humorous. “So what part of your stripping him of his clothes and publically beating his backside to a pulp wouldn’t be considered assault?”
Landon licked his lips and swallowed, sensing danger.
“And when it comes to stripping and jerking him off? I think you call that sexual assault!” Luke studied him pitilessly as Landon’s eyes widened at the words. “Yep Scott—you got it. We’re talking about sexual assault. How’s that going to look when Daddy reads the police report?”
Suck on that, you SHIT!
The silence became tight.
‘‘Come on, Luke,” Landon muttered. “You know it’s not like that. It’s just a …well… a…”
“A game, Scott? Just a bit of playground joshing? A laugh?”
“He’s not the only one, you know!” Landon was becoming increasingly agitated. Looking left and right, he kept his voice low and hissed, “Why do you want to go make such a fucking big deal out of it? We all did Kieran, didn’t we?”
Luke glowered at the reminder of something else that should never have happened. “Okay, if you still believe that’s just a game, let’s just put it aside. Let’s talk about Simon shall we?”
Landon flinched as if he’d been slapped.
“Ryan shouldn’t have hit me! It’s all his fault!” he growled at once. He’d lost the initiative and his confidence with it, and was sounding troubled.
Luke ignored the outburst and remained icy cold as he continued. “Because if you think I’m going to ignore the fact that you stripped my younger brother naked, and then smacked him, you’ve got another thing coming."
“Oh, come on! Fuck...it wasn't like that! I didn’t... I mean we never...not like that. That was some other kids…” The words began to tumble over each other as Landon muttered fiercely. “That’s when Ryan smashed my nose!”
"If he hadn't, I’d have smashed your face in myself!” Luke hissed through clenched teeth, struggling to keep his voice low. However, pissed though he was with the asshole, now was not the time to properly deal with Landon. The clock was ticking and he was speaking to the wrong person.
“I’m going in now,” he said. It was quiet, yet his voice was determined and his intentions crystal clear. “You’ve got ten seconds to decide whether you’re coming in to tell them exactly what happened, and that you made it all up about Ryan, or I’ll tell them myself. And I mean everything. And then I’m going to report the sexual assault on my brother to the police.”
He began to count down. “Five…Four ….”
Trapped between a rock and an extremely hard place, Landon seemed almost unable to believe he would actually do it, and his face resolved into an angry sneer.
Fucking waste of space!
That did it. Luke didn't even bother with the rest of the count. Without another word, he pushed past Landon and strode on.
Landon turned and his face fell. “Where the hell are you going? You wouldn’t dare—”
“Try me!” Luke spat without looking back.
Landon launched after him, reaching to hold him back. "Come on, Luke," he muttered, his whiney tone completely altered. "Don't do this. You can't. My dad's in there. I'll talk to him tonight and sort it out, I promise."
"Right—after Ry has been expelled, you mean!" Luke spat in return, shaking Landon off. He didn't even break his stride. He'd wasted enough time already. "Not a fucking chance. Tell him now, or I'll do it for you!"
While he didn’t think it was ever going to be ‘too late' for Ry once the truth came out, he hated to think of him being left to hang again. And on top, it would be better to not get Ryan’s parents involved if it could be helped.
He strode into the principal’s office and faced Dickhead, the weasel-like administrator, who was working at his desk in the atrium outside the principal’s inner sanctum. In the room with him, glowering from where he was seated in one of the well-padded chairs, waited Landon's father.
It was Landon senior that spoke first.
"Scott? What are you doing here again? You're meant to be going back to your class!"
Luke ignored him. Without preamble he addressed the administrator. “I want to see the Principal!”
Dickhead looked across his desk and studied Luke with a dismissive twist of his mouth.
“You would like to see the principal, sir,” he corrected, but then waved his hand. “It’s not possible just now. He’s questioning Alexis, as you know, Landon.” Luke could see him looking curiously at Landon as he spoke. "You, on the other hand, should be returning to your class as you were asked.”
"Scott. What the hell's going on?" Landon senior stood.
"It's nothing," returned his son. "Just a bit of a confusion." He grabbed Luke's arm. "It’s fine. We're just going."
Luke shook him off. “Is Ryan Alexis in there alone?” he demanded.
“That’s none of your business boy," barked Dickhead. "And unless you want detention, I suggest you remove yourself from this office and return to your lessons.” The man returned to his keyboard.
"Scott?" Landon’s father was still frowning as he stepped closer.
Landon shuffled uncomfortably, then turned to the door. "Look, we tried," he pleaded to Luke. Perhaps he believed he was off the hook. "We're just going Dad. It's nothing. I'll tell you later."
Luke didn’t move. Eventually Dickhead looked up at again, appearing surprised they were still there. “NOW!” He raised his voice and barked in a way that was usually successful in intimidating students.
Luke stared back at him coldly and made his decision. In fact, he'd made it some time ago. “We’re going in…” he said, and started toward the door.
“You are damn well not!” The administrator became vehement. He seemed aghast that anyone would dare disobey him, and his mouth flapped. However, he was stuck behind his little power desk and couldn’t stop them as Luke grabbed Landon by the arm and jerked him to the door.
Quickly Luke opened it and walked in. Hot on their heels came Scott's father.
* * *
Extract from Luke’s Notes:
Before you think I'm some kind of hero, I have to admit that all the bravado I seemed to have at that moment was only skin deep. Inside I was totally shitting myself! I was probably getting myself into a shitload of trouble, but I put it behind me and went through the door.
I’d been in this room a number of times before. The first time was when we first arrived at the school and I’d had an interview. I guess that hadn't been so bad at the time. Benton was all very fatherly then, and made a point of telling Mum and Dad how much of a close family the school was for the boys who attended, and how their well-being was right at the top of the agenda alongside academic excellence. Clearly, he’d never made it to a hang in his time!
Subsequent visits into the principal’s sanctum—and I admit there had been a couple—had not been that good. Benton was definitely ‘old school’, with a bit of a reputation that his bite was much worse than his bark!
I took in the scene rapidly.
Ryan was standing alone on the carpet facing Benton, the latter sitting in his expensive high-backed chair behind the equally expensive mahogany desk. The Principal’s face was thunderous even before he saw me! He looked over in surprise as we barged in.
Landon’s father had followed us in. From the look on his face, I don't think he liked me very much!
Ryan twisted his head to see who was making such a noise!
* * *
John Benton—Principal of the Atlanta Academy—kicked into action, a darkening scowl erupting from his already frowning, pudgy face as he demanded, “What’s the meaning of this, Summers?”
Luke was amazed the man actually appeared to remember his name! He struggled to get some words out, when they were interrupted by Dickhead, who'd hurried in behind them. He elbowed past Landon senior.
“I’m sorry Principal Benton. They pushed past me." The furious administrator made a grab at Luke's wrist. "You two. Out. NOW!”
Luke snatched his hand away, stood his ground, and said, “Landon has something to tell you!” It came out in a rather breathless rush.
"Scott? What the hell is this?" Landon's father pushed by them all to take center stage. The fact that Benton also rose from his chair indicated how pissed off he was by the unexpected intrusion.
“How dare you barge in here, Summers?" Benton barked. "Leave at once, or it won’t be just Alexis who’ll be punished today!”
“Come on, Luke.” The younger Landon whined and pulled at Luke's other wrist. “We need to do what he says."
Momentarily, with everyone against him, Luke quailed, feeling he’d just walked right into the lion’s den! Maybe Scott was right and they should do what they were told? Maybe there was a better way of doing this? Then he caught Ryan watching him. It was the face of somebody that was being beaten down and, for Luke, the word 'punished' lit a fire in him.
He roughly shook off the hands that tried to eject him. No way were they going to treat Ryan like this. Whoever was going to be punished, it sure as hell wasn't going to be Ry again. Luke had every right to be here to make sure of that!!
“I apologize, sir," he said, trying to remain calm, though he still felt like wetting his pants, "and I wouldn’t be here unless it was extremely important, but Scott really does have something he needs to tell you.”
“What kind of school do you run here, Benton?” Landon senior waved his arms, scoffing. “What the hell happened to discipline at the Academy?”
Benton glared at him and began to move around the desk, probably to take more definitive action. Luke gritted his teeth, preparing for the worst and wondering how to handle it, when Scott’s father stepped forward and put out his arm, barring the principal’s way.
“No—let them stay," Mr. Landon said, a nasty smirk on his face that reminded Luke so much of his son. "And anyway, I want to hear what it is Scott has to say. Hopefully it’s more than you seem to be getting out of this dumb thug!” Derisively, he waved his hand at Ryan.
Luke could tell that the Principal Benton was not that impressed that his students were being called either dumb or thugs by an outsider. Benton seemed to weigh up the pros and cons of the situation and came to a decision.
"Well, in the circumstances, let's have it then, Scott." He motioned the hapless Dickhead away dismissively, and then nodded at Scott to have his say. "But make it quick."
“Oh. Well…I think that I might…ummm—” Scott stuttered, not at all happy to be in the limelight.
“For God's sake, spit it out, boy!” demanded his irate father. “I didn’t raise you to be a dumbass, too!”
For the first time, Luke felt some pity for Scott Landon, even though he was clearly a chip off the old block. Life was a choice, and you didn't have to be like your parents. Ryan was living proof of that.
“Well..." Scott mumbled. "I think I might have made a mistake.” Looking as uncomfortable as hell, he stared at the floor.
“What?” His father blinked, and suddenly looked an even bigger dickhead than the administrator as his mouth did weird things.
Benton seemed taken aback too. He glowered, gliding from around his desk again.
“What kind of mistake, Scott?” The principal was always his most dangerous when he didn't shout.
Landon avoided looking up from a spot on the floor in front of him and said, “Well, when I got hurt, it was actually because I fell over. It was nothing to do with Ryan, and—”
His father fairly glared at him as he interrupted. “What the hell are you saying?”
"I’m afraid that’s not true, sir." All eyes flicked to Ryan as, unexpectedly, he spoke up. "It was definitively me that beat Scott's face to a pulp!"
Oh, for God’s sake—I’m trying to help here! Luke couldn't work out what the hell Ryan was playing at. All it seemed to do was help to get Scott's father seriously pissed! Maybe that was Ryan’s intention?
“Oh…well..." Scott continued to stare on a spot on the floor, looking for courage. "That bit was an accident then. I’m sure you didn’t mean it, did you Ryan?” He looked up at last, pleading, “Can’t we just forget it?”
“Forget it? I don't think so!” Landon senior looked incredulous. “I don't know what the hell is going on here, but, no, we damn well cannot just forget it!”
He glared at his son. “I don’t know what’s got into you, but this brute has to be punished properly. I'll see him expelled from this school before we’ve finished here." His irate tone climbed. "I also plan to sue!”
"Please. Can we all keep calm?" Benton said, attempting to calm the situation "I think that’s enough now. You two," he pointed at Luke and Scott, "I want you out, so we can discuss this further! Sir..." He directed his attention at Landon senior. "Would you wait outside too?"
Landon completely ignored him. “What’s your name, boy?” He rounded on Luke.
“Summers, sir,” Luke replied, trying to keep his cool. "Luke Summers."
“Summers…” Landon repeated it slowly, managing to imbue the name with his nastiness. “It seems to me that my son has the wrong kind of friends! I don’t know how you’ve managed to bully him to get him to come in here and tell such a crock of shit, but I expect the principal to get to the bottom of it!”
Luke found his legs at last.
He already had a working plan in mind—it was to tell them the truth. At the same time, he saw a way of shifting the balance to take the pressure off Ryan. And by now he was mad enough to try it!
What the hell. Give it to them as it was.
“It was because of my penis.”
Suck on that, you assholes!
Other than the soft groan that came from Scott, the room went deathly quiet. Even Ryan pulled a face that said Ouch!
"Excuse me?" Benton's face darkened. Luke wondered if this was the first time anyone had had the guts to say ‘penis’ in the principal’s office, but Benton clearly wasn’t taking it well.
”Sorry, sir. It was all because I was having a problem with my penis.” In for a penny in for a pound as his mum still liked to say. "And I was worried Scott was going to harm it."
He had always thought that the concept of turning purple was fictional until he saw Scott’s father’s complexion darken from pink to reddish to something resembling a dark purple. He was so furious, he struggled to get his words out.
“How fucking dare you!" Landon senior swore violently and the muscles in his face tightened. "If you were a little older you little brat, I’d..." He stopped, apparently at a loss to find something suitably deadly.
“Summers—that is outrageous and truly disgusting!” Benton agreed, getting his voice back. “In all my years at this school, I've never heard such repulsive filth!” Spittle flecked his lips and he was angry enough to ignore the swearing.
“Sir—you don’t understand.” Luke couldn’t believe how calm he was as he chose his words carefully. “I had a special operation to make some changes to my penis. Ryan was just trying to protect my willy to make sure nobody touched it.”
Benton completely lost it. “You’re a disgrace, Summers. A sexual pervert—"
Luke hung his head in apparent shame as Benton let go an endless volley of his loathing. In Luke’s head as he waited, he added up the words with increasing satisfaction. Pervert, disgusting, revolting, vulgar, depraved, and more. They were all good. Perhaps too good, and he hoped he hadn't gone too far.
Finally, Benton snapped out, "Now GET OUT, before I throw you out! And I WILL be calling your parents after we've finished here!”
“But sir—” He threw his whole whiney voice into it. “—it wasn't me, it was Scott who started it—"
Perhaps his whole show was too good. Landon senior strode up to him and pushed Luke so hard that he staggered backwards and banged his head against the door.
“You perverted fag!” Landon snarled. Clearly he wasn’t into gays! “Both you and your boyfriend over there are disgusting! Now get out of my way!”
Luke rubbed the back of his head. Fuck, that had hurt!!
Benton tried to do some damage control as it all started spiraling.
“Mr. Landon!” He sounded shocked at the physical assault of one of the students under his care. “ENOUGH!”
Benton reached to Landon to hold him back. “I knew this was a bad idea!” he muttered. “Now can everyone calm down!” Red in the face, he glared at Luke and lowered his voice, trying to sound in control of it all. “Summers, you only have yourself to blame for this. Your behavior has been deplorable. Now get out!”
Deplorable? Nice word.
‘Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir.” Out of the corner of his eye, Luke saw the smug look on Scott Landon’s face. Then Luke got out his cellphone. Strictly, they were banned in school, but he started dialing.
"What are you doing?" wheezed Benton as he watched Luke’s fingers dance on the keys.
I'm making a soufflé, dumbass!
I'm calling my mother, sir.” He had dialed their home, but hoped to hell nobody would answer. “She won’t be happy.”
“Mr. Head will call her. I will expect both your parents to come in.” Benton’s tone was dismissively icy. “And you can be sure I will be speaking to them at length. And after your mother hears what I have to say, then no, she won't be happy! I plan to put it to the school board that you be dismissed!" He was so angry, he didn't even pick up on the rule-breaking cellphone!
“Yes, sir." Luke hung his head again and tried to look dejected, though he knew he was flying close to the wind. "I’m really sorry. I don’t know what else to say, though my parents won’t be happy that you called me disgusting and all those other names. I was only trying to tell you the truth. I think they’ll have to speak to the school board, too.”
“Let them do what they like.” Benton remained furious. “We will not condone behavior like this. We can well do without deviants like you at the Academy!"
The insolent, egotistical bastard flicked his hand dismissively. "Now get out."
Luke swallowed. It was high time he reeled this in. “Yes, sir. As I was trying to tell you, I recently had to be circumcised for medical reasons.”
He put the phone away as Benton blinked. “I was quite upset about it, but my mother said it would be fine and that the school would be very supportive of me if I needed it. I guess she was wrong.”
He turned to the door.
“Summers. One moment.” Luke had only just touched the handle when the principal’s voice behind him sounded more circumspect. “You never said that you had been circumcised.”
“Well…yes sir, I did.” He returned him a look flavored with hurt and disappointment. “Like I told you—I had an operation on my penis. I’m sorry if that means you think I’m a disgrace or some sort of sexual deviant. I didn’t know what else to call it.” He turned to the door again.
“Circumcised?” Scott’s father continued to bluster, though he too sounded ill at ease. “For God’s sake, this is complete bullshit. You don't get cut at your age!"
“He’s telling the truth, sir.” Ryan spoke up again. “Luke has just had an operation.”
“Sir—if you feel you have to see, I can show you if you need, but I’d rather not.” Luke let it begin to sink in with Benton. “I can go to the school nurse if you need it confirmed, or we could just wait for my mum to arrive? She will explain it to you.”
“No—that won’t be necessary, Luke.” Benton started backpedaling. “Let me get this straight…you’ve actually recently had a circumcision procedure?”
So! It was fucking Luke now?
"Yes, sir. I'd rather not talk about it. It's well—" he shrugged and dropped his head "—a bit personal." Then his voice hardened as he looked up and stared Benton in the face. "I still don’t think you have the right to call me a disgusting sexual pervert, sir.”
"No." Benton sounded tentative now. "And I truly regret that. Please accept my apologies."
Luke shrugged. “Yes, sir. But if I’m in trouble, then I think my parents will want to know about that." He wasn't accepting anything yet. “Can I go now? I’ll sit outside to wait for my parents after I’ve called them.” He reached around to the back of his head and grimaced as he massaged the tender spot. It was a bit gratuitous, but the gesture didn't go unnoticed.
“Just one moment, Luke.” Benton looked extremely awkward. “I think maybe I was a little hasty and came to the wrong conclusions.”
You think? Like the kind of conclusions that can become lawsuits?
“If what you’re saying is true, then I apologize wholeheartedly and there’s certainly no need to call your parents.” His eyes flicked around, uncertain now, and maybe realizing how fragile the ground was. “Could somebody please tell me what on earth is going on here?”
"We're getting off the point!" Landon pointed accusingly at Ryan. “Let's not forget that this boy assaulted my son!”
Luke faced him down. “I was trying to protect my younger brother from being bullied, and somebody kicked me in my groin. Scott was about to do the same, so Ryan hit him to protect me. If Scott had stamped on me in my condition, I might have been really badly hurt.”
“Simon? Simon Summers? Your brother?” Benton frowned. "He's a freshman, isn't he?" He turned his beady eye on Scott and his voice hardened. "Young man, is this true? Were you bullying him?"
"Of course not!" Scott muttered immediately, spitting it out through his swollen mouth. "We never touched him!"
"We?" Benton's eyes drilled into him. Giving him his due, he was an efficient interrogator!
"Was it on Tuesday, Scott?" Luke gave Scott Landon a hard glare. "Or was it Monday when Ryan and I were hanging around?" He emphasized the potent word.
Your choice, bud!
Scott swallowed. He got it.
"Okay...well...maybe we did. A bit. But we didn't mean anything by it." Hunted, Scott’s eyes darted around. "I …ummm…well, maybe I got a bit carried away. But it was only a bit of fun and I'm sorry that Simon was a bit upset, but..." He trailed off, then added, "Then you knocked me over, Luke, and I was angry." He flushed at the admission. "But I had no idea you'd been cut. You have to believe me!"
The room descended into silence. Benton shook his head and went back behind his desk. "
Well." He sat and studied each one in turn. "That's not quite the story we had earlier, now, is it?"
Luke rubbed the back of his head and winced.
"Perhaps I should apologize too," said Landon stiffly. It looked like he'd rather eat shit, but he soldiered on. "I lost my temper, but I shouldn't have pushed you." From the look on his face, he looked like he was choking as he swallowed some of that shit, and he glared angrily at his son. "Or called you a fa..." He coughed. "I mean assumed you were gay."
Now THAT was fucking priceless!
"And Ryan isn't my boyfriend, sir,” said Luke, making the bastard eat a double portion. “I really think you need to apologize to him, too!"
"Yes...well..." Landon remained sullen, recoiling as he was forced to eat a little more shit! And maybe it was dawning on him that he was on fragile ground, too.
“Maybe I was a bit hasty,” he admitted at last. “I apologize. Perhaps it’s important to find out a few facts first.” If looks could kill, his son would have dropped dead right there in Benton’s office.
Now what? Luke could see that in all of their faces.
Benton steepled his hands. “And, as I understand those facts now,” he murmured, “it appears that Ryan, being aware of Luke’s condition, and knowing he might be seriously injured in the circumstances, had spontaneously acted to protect Luke?”
Luke couldn’t fault the guy for any lack of impressive vocab! Perhaps Landon was in the shit now, but maybe it would be easier for everyone if he were to offer a way out.
“Sir, it was all in the heat of the moment,” Luke said. “Like Scott said, he didn’t know anything about my recent procedure, and I accept that.
“The thing is, I don’t think it’s right to punish Ryan for lashing out like he did, either. If it helps, I’m also willing to forget all that was said—and done—today.”
He put it out there and hoped Benton would take the bait, though the principal wasn’t stupid, and Luke could tell he didn’t like being backed into a corner. There was a long, tense silence and from the look on Benton's face, Luke didn't expect to be flavor of the month for many years.
“How do you feel, Scott?” Either Benton was trying to be fair, or he was covering all his bases, Luke couldn’t tell.
The younger Landon jumped at it. “Yes, sir. It’s probably best.”
Benton studied Scott’s father. “I think I have to agree with Scott. It’s in everyone’s best interests to just let this drop, don’t you think?”
From the darkening of his face, it looked like Landon senior might have ideas, but his son overrode him. “Dad, I messed up okay. Maybe I deserved it. Just leave it, can we?”
His father returned a stony face and then nodded.
“Good.” Benton stood and came back around his desk. “And now I think it’s high time that you three boys got back to your class. He held out his hand to Landon senior. “Thank you for coming in, sir.”
Grudgingly, Landon shook it and then stalked out. Scott hurried off, too.
As soon as he and Ryan were back out in the corridor and onto the hard floors again, Luke heaved a sigh of relief. There were a million questions, and he wasn’t in that much of a hurry to go back to their class just then.
“Crap—that was unbelievable!” He leaned against a wall.
Ryan, however, kept walking. Frowning, Luke hurried after him. “What’s wrong?”
Immediately, Ryan turned on him. “What the fuck did you do that for? I can look after myself!”
Luke blinked and, almost as quickly, Ryan grimaced.
“Shit.” Ryan stopped and closed his eyes. “Sorry. That was total fucking crap of me. I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up at about three and—”
He shook his head and took a deep breath. “Thanks for bailing me out.” A smirk touched his mouth. “Hellfire! The look on his face when you said ‘Penis’!”
Luke sniggered. Even now, he couldn’t quite believe he’d actually got away with that.
They were interrupted by the sound of someone coming down the corridor after them. It was Dickhead. "The principal told you two to return to class," he barked. "And that means NOW!"
Oh piss off! Luke ground his teeth. He'd had enough of the little tyrant that day, but Ryan got him moving before he said something he'd regret. Dickhead followed them all the way to their classroom, where they knocked on the door and went in. Luke could see Landon was already there.
"Where have you two bee—" the geography teacher started once he saw them, but stopped with an, "Oh" as he noticed Dickhead right behind them. It only meant one thing.
"I see. You, too." He trailed off.