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|The sun hung low in the horizon, igniting the entire sitting in a burning glow. The shadows that the light could never reached elongated and stretched out, their shapes extending out and engulfing whatever they touch into darkness. In the sky, a few twinkling stars shown, all others hidden away due to the folly of man’s need to illuminate the darkness.
Somewhere near the center of a park, a single lamppost lit up. Standing under it was a non-descript girl with cinnamon brown short hair. As a cold wind suddenly blew, she wrapped her arms around herself, pulling her pale lavender jacket closed and sneezed. She glared at her wristwatch, as if somehow it had offended her greatly. She growled and was about to leave when she heard the sound of footsteps.
Out of the shadows stepped Hunter, his silvery eyes flashing briefly from the light of the lamppost. Behind him, wearing only a football jersey despite the cold, was Lucas.
“What took you two so long?” The girl snapped, glaring fiercely at the two boys. She couldn’t help but shiver when she saw Lucas’ scant clothing. How he could wear such a thing in this cold, she couldn’t figure out. It made her cold just thinking about it!
“Some cop pulled Hunter over ‘cuz he looked suspicious.” Lucas chuckled.
“The price of being a Goth.” Hunter sighed. “It tends to attract the eyes of authority, even though I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.”
“Besides scaring babies?” Lucas chuckled.
“Can we hurry this up?” The girl glared. “Or do you prefer we sit out here in the freezing cold.”
“I find it just fine.” Lucas grinned. He hit his big meaty chest in a prideful manner, then flexed his arm, showing off his peaks. “These babies here help keep me warm.”
“And black clothes help trap in heat.” Hunter added.
The girl glared even harder.
“So where have you been Paige?” Hunter asked conversationally. “You’ve been gone from school for some time already.”
“Don’t call me Paige.” She said through clenched teeth. “And don’t you start cracking out those stupid Charmed jokes Lucas!”
Lucas, who was about to say something, instantly snapped his mouth shut, though his grin was still evident.
“You still haven’t answered the question Mathews.” Hunter stressed the name and rolled his eyes.
Mathews shifted uncomfortably. “I…caught the flu.”
The two boys looked at it each other, then erupted in a bout of laughter.
“Oh man oh man,” Lucas said between laughs. “You of all people hahaha!”
“I guess this is what they call irony!” Hunter chuckled.
Mathews’s face was now red with both anger and embarrassment. She waited for them to stop laughing rather impatiently, her right foot tapping and one of her eyes twitching slightly. “Are you two done yet?” She asked coldly. “And when is HE going to come?”
“He’s still not out yet.” Lucas shrugged. “The people there said that there were some sorta problems or other, so they gotta keep him there until he improves.”
Mathews snorted. “Sometimes I think it’d be better if he’s better off living there.”
“Be nice.” Hunter chided her. “He’s been through a lot you know, so show at least some human compassion.”
“Hunter,” Mathews said warningly. “Shut up. Now why the hell did you call me out in the middle of the night?”
Lucas and Hunter’s expression suddenly turned serious. “There’s a new guy at school.” Hunter started. “Kousuke Sterling. He transferred in several days ago, while you were away. Although he’s trying to act as normal as possible, there’s no doubt that he’s anything BUT normal.”
“He’s over eight feet tall, for crying out loud.” Lucas muttered. “And he’s built like a freakin’ tank. The only thing is he acts so scared and wimpy it‘s almost scary.”
Mathews frowned. “That’s a bit different. Usually they all are trying to barge in with fanfares and a parade, or at least look normal. You sure your eye‘s haven‘t gone bad Hunter?”
“You should know by now that my eyes are never wrong.” Hunter replied sternly.
Mathews frowned thoughtfully. “Well, if he hasn’t done anything yet…”
“He already has.” Lucas said gravely. “He’s been hangin’ out with…what’s his name again?” He turned to Hunter for help.
“Chris Stanton.” Hunter answered.
“Yeah, him.” Lucas nods.
Mathews’ eyes went wide with surprise. “He’s after someone already? What are we gonna do? Did you contact-”
“Already tried and failed.” Hunter shook his head. “And it looks like for now Sterling hasn’t made a move yet, but it’s only a matter of time.”
“Shouldn’t we do something now?” Mathews said, her voice sounding a bit worried.
Lucas shook his head. “He may act like a wimp, but he’s strong. Very strong. It’s going to take all four of us to take him out.”
Mathews bit her lip, her mind thinking everything over quickly. “We’ll keep a close eye on him just in case. And if he harms one hair on Stanton’s head, he’s gonna wish he were dead!”
One and a half weeks later…
There was something gloomy about the school library. The quiet atmosphere, the dim lights, and the still, stale air and smell of old books. To Chris, it was rather boring. To Kou, however, it was paradise.
Chris realized his mistake almost as soon as he mentioned the library. During Kou’s first day at the school, he had skipped past the library. After he saw the vast collection in Kou’s room however, Chris figured that Kou might be interested. To say Kou was interested was a huge understatement.
Besides his own collection at home, the library was the only place where he saw so many books gathered together in one convenient location. There were rows and rows of different books on different subjects, and Kou tore through them all with an insatiable appetite. History, Biology, Science Fiction, Mysteries, it didn’t matter if the books were fiction or non fiction because he read each and every one of them with equal interest and fascination. He would arrive at school early in the morning, and leave late in the afternoon. He borrowed the maximum limit every time and then returned them all the next day, claiming he had finished reading all of them.
Although Chris had no interest in books, he still stayed in Kou’s company. He never arrive at school early in the morning, but he did stay after school with Kou. He was absolutely fascinated by the sight of Kou’s towering body hunched over a normal sized book that was completely engulfed in the palm of his hands, occasionally turning the page with careful and steady movements. Even while reading, Kou’s muscles seemed to move on a life of their own. Ever twitch or movement would send those huge muscles rolling and flexing. His mouth watered and his cock sprang to life just thinking about it, so he often tried to divert his attention by at least trying to read. He was doing rather well, considering that he sat across the star of his disturbing and surprisingly erotic nightmares.
Kou was in the middle of reading a rather thick book when the librarian, a rather handsome middle aged woman, announced that it was almost time to close up. The library hours were actually were shorter, but Chris privately suspected that the librarian bent the rules in order to have more time around the massive teenager. The librarian was always working in the area around Kou, and made frequent looks and glances towards him from wherever she was standing.
Kou looked up at the clock and sighed. He quietly closed the book he was reading and gathered up all the books he had set aside to read at home. Although Kou was perfectly capable of handling all of the books, Chris insisted that he carry some of them as well.
“No one, no matter how big they are, can carry all these books by himself.” Chris explained as they walked through the school campus. Since it was late in the afternoon, there was not a single soul in sight. “And besides, you may move a little well for your size, but whenever books are involve, you tend to be a bit clumsy.”
“I am not!” Kou protested.
“Yes, you are.” Chris said bluntly.
“Can a clumsy guy do this?” Kou balanced the books in one hand and began stepping lightly on his feet in a peculiar and rather bad dance. Chris couldn’t help but laugh at the silly movements and Kou soon joined Chris in his laughter, still dancing horribly. As he danced towards a corner with his back turned towards it, the school janitor appeared busily mopping the floor. Chris tried to call out a warning, but he was far too late. Kou bumped into the janitor. Instead of simply falling down, he seemed to fly instead, as if he was hit by a tow truck. He slammed into the far wall and hit the ground face down.
Kou stared at the limp body, his eyes wide and full of horror. His breathing had stopped completely and his body stood rigid and hard like solid stone. Slowly, his hold on his stack of books weakened until he let go of them completely. Chris lunged past Kou and knelt next to the janitor. The janitor was very fit and burly, but he had been knocked down so easily that it frightened Chris a bit. He checked the man’s pulse, almost afraid that he was dead. What he felt under his fingers was a good strong steady pulse, and with that Chris sighed with relief. Chris probed the man slightly, and was unable to find any broken bones anywhere.
“He’s alright.” Chris announced. “He just hit his head a little-” As Chris spoke, he had turned his head towards Kou, but all there was behind him was empty hallway. The library books laid on the floor where he dropped him, but Kou was nowhere to be found. Chris swore under his breath and was about to go look for him when the janitor began to moan and open his eyes.
“Wh-what happened?” He said a bit groggily.
“Are you alright?” Chris asked.
“I…I think so.” The janitor looked at Chris with a dazed look in his eyes. “I…I can’t remember what happened. Why am I on the floor?”
“You, uh, slipped and bumped your head.” Chris said quickly, taking advantage of the situation. Somehow, the thought of Kou getting sued wasn’t so appealing. It took several minutes before the janitor recovered his composure. As soon as Chris was certain that the man could walk in a straight line without falling over, he went off in search for Kou, making sure he gathered up the books that he had dropped. Although it was only for a week, Chris had learned enough about Kou that he takes emotions like guilt very hard, and if not headed off quickly it might grow into something very serious. Chris ran from one end of the school to the other, swearing under his breath along the way. So far, there were no signs of Kou anywhere. For a man his height and size, Kou hid himself pretty well. Chris rather doubted that Kou had exited campus since the only open entrance had been in the opposite direction. The only other way out was where the sport fields and areas were.
Chris skidded to a stop. He smacked his head for missing the obvious. Instead of wasting his time running around the empty campus, he should have headed straight for the fields instead! He cursed himself for not realizing this sooner as he ran at full speed towards the fields. As he got to the fields, he squinted as he tried to spot Kou’s large bulk. There was no sign of him anywhere.
“Dammit!” He yelled, and walked towards the exit next to the football bleachers.
“It’s about time you arrived.” A deep voice said right next to him.
Chris nearly had a heart attack, and the first thought in his mind was that someone was going to mug him. He whirled around, half intending to kick the speaker and make a break for it. As his foot lashed out, a strong hand caught it and held it in midair.
“Whoa, no need to get so violent Chris.” A familiar voice chuckled. Chris looked at his attacker and immediately recognized Coach Lumen’s face, which was grinning in amusement.
“C-coach!” Chris choked out. He wobbled slightly since his leg was still held in midair. “I’m sorry, I thought-”
“That’s alright Chris.” Coach Lumen laughed as he let go of Chris’ leg. “Under the circumstances, defending yourself is a good idea, but make sure you look at him first to see that he‘s really attacking you are not.”
“Y-yeah.” Chris looked down, embarrassed.
Coach Lumen gave another chuckled, then his face grew a bit serious. “I take it you’re looking for Sterling?”
“Y-yeah!” Chris looked back up, slightly amazed that Coach Lumen knew.
“Well, he’s right here under the bleachers.” Coach waved one beefy arm behind him. “I managed to calm him down a bit, but what he needs now is someone close to him.” Coach gave a sly little wink.
“Oh.” Chris’ ears turned red.
Coach Lumen gave Chris a pat on the shoulder. “Listen Stanton, I know you know this, but Sterling isn’t like other people. He’s not use to how things are run around here, and he’s really delicate on the insides, if you know what I mean. And one more thing…” He reached out and lifted Chris’ chin up so they could look at each other eye to eye. “Make sure to be a friend first, and everything else second. Friendship is really a simple thing, but it means the world to some people, you got that?”
“Good.” Coach nods in return. “Now, I’ll just leave you two to talk things over.” He gave Chris a push in the right direction, then set off towards his office.
It was dark under the bleachers. The soil on the ground was still wet and damp from the previous night’s drizzle since the sun was unable to reach that place. There was no grass, but there were a few weeks and other hardy plants that grew sparingly across the stretch of dirt. Besides the vegetation, the ground was scattered with small bits of trash and garbage, things that were overlooked when the custodians cleaned up after the previous football game. And sitting off near the center of shadowed ground was Kou.
His knees were bent upwards in front of him, and his face buried in his hands. The image reminded Chris of the time in the locker room the first day Kou had arrived. Without even a moment of hesitation, Chris walked up next to him.
“Kou?” He said, keeping his voice strong, yet caring.
Kou sobbed somewhere behind his hands. Now that he was closer, Chris saw that water was seeping through his fingers and down his arms. He was crying.
“Kou, what’s wrong?” Chris knelt down and reached out.
“Don’t touch me!” Kou sobbed louder, jerking away from Chris’ hands. “Just…just get away from me!”
“Kou, I’m not going to hurt you.” Chris reassured him. It was silly to say such a thing to him, but it somehow seemed right. “I just want to help you.”
Kou continued to sob and cry. “I…I hurt him…” He said. “I ki-ki-ki-”
“Don’t be stupid.” Chris headed him off. “The janitor is alright now, so you don’t have to be so upset.”
“It’s just like back then.” Kou continued, not paying attention to Chris. “It’s j-just like what happened y-years ago.”
Chris had no idea what Kou was talking about, but somehow he felt that Kou was reliving some painful memory or repetition of a past event. Whatever it was, it was just making things worse for Kou. “You can’t blame yourself for something you did in the past.” Chris said quickly. “Today was an accident, so-”
“I’m a m-monster.” Kou said weakly, sinking deeper into his depression. “I’m j-just a t-terrible, hideous monster!”
Chris just blinked. The man was about twice his size and many more times his weight. He was, however, the kindest and gentlest person Chris had ever met in his life, and here he was calling himself a monster! He had accepted everything before, but now he drew the line. “Quit being such a baby already!” He snapped a little more harshly then he had aimed for.
Kou’s eyes widened in surprise as he looked up at Chris. His eyes were a bit red from his crying, and his face was moist, but the tears stopped momentarily.
“You’re like, huge and yet you’re afraid! You’re fifteen years old, but you act like a child! You’re as cute as hell, but you’re to timid to even be the slightest bit confident! You’re a nice guy, and I like you a lot, but dammit, grow a backbone and be a man!” Without realizing it, Chris had marched ominously towards Kou, his eyes seeming to look down at him even though Kou was currently eye level with him. Stunned and dumbfounded, Kou had continued to crawl backwards as Chris approached until his back hit the wall, causing it to crack slightly.
“You are not a monster!” Chris yelled down at his friend. “You are Kousuke Sterling, the best friend I’ve had in years and one of the nicest person on this god-damned planet! If you were any nicer, I’d vomit. So. Stop. Berating. Yourself!”
Kou’s eyes looked into Chris’ with both fear and awe. Quite suddenly his arms flew out and pulled in Chris, hugging him a bit tightly.
“T-thank you.” He said softly, tears once again flowing. “Thank you so much Chris.”
“Your…Wel….come.” Chris managed to choke out. Kou was squeezing fairly tightly, so he felt like he was being crushed on all sides by rock hard muscles. Oddly enough, considering his position, he wasn’t the slightest bit aroused.
“I’m hungry.” Chris announced. After Kou had finally let go of Chris, the boys went over to Kou’s place to study. For some reason, they always went to Kou’s place and never Chris’. Kou thought it was a bit funny how Chris never invited him over to his place, though now that he thought about it, it was probably for the best. Lou wasn’t there when they arrived, though there was a note saying he’d an errand to run and would be home later.
Kou shrugged, his broad shoulder muscles rolling and rubbing against each other. “There are a couple of things in the refrigerator I think. My Dad won’t mind if you eat something outta there.”
“Kay then.” Chris walked into the kitchen. It was average sized with a high roof. Like the rest of the house, the furniture was made out of metal, including the table, four chairs, cabinets and refrigerator. Chris couldn’t figure out the reason behind the obsession over steel furniture, but did not voice the issue. Instead, he walked over to the refrigerator and opened it to browse through. Inside there were several take out boxes and leftovers and there were huge stacks of microwave dinners in the freezer. Chris blinked. He turned to Kou, examined Kou’s muscles, then turned back to the high calorie and far from healthy food inside the refrigerator.
“You and your Dad eat this everyday?” He asked, staring at pizza that had somehow grown a bit of mold on a pepperoni.
“Uh…” Kou looked away evasively.
“How long has it been since you had a decent meal?” Chris turned to Kou.
“Uh…” Kou still refused to look at Chris.
“Kou…” Chris said, “I don’t know how you got that big eating on this junk, but you and your Dad HAS to eat something that’s healthier then…then this!” He waved at the junk inside of the fridge.
“We…we get by on this.” Kousuke looked down at the floor. “We…we don’t really have the time to cook a meal, a-and we’re not good at it anyways.”
Chris sighed and pressed a hand on his forehead. After a moment’s though, he looked back up. “Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do. Tommorow, I’ll cook you two something, alright?”
Kou’s eyes widened in surprise. “But you don’t have to-”
“I insist Kou.” Chris said sternly. “And I’m not taking no for an answer. If it’ll make you feel better, you can pay for the ingredients while I do the service for free. Got that?”
Kou looked at Chris, a look of defeat in his eyes. Rather reluctantly, he nods.
“I thought so.” Chris said smugly.
It took Chris a bit more time to convince Lou when he arrived home an hour later, but after pointing out the number of calories, fat and other substances, along with the fact that he was probably going to eat himself and his son into an early grave, (not that Kou wasn‘t fit) Lou agreed.
Chris was silently smiling at himself for his little victory. Tomorrow was a Saturday, so he could do both lunch AND dinner. He privately loved to cook, but as the years gone by, the joy of cooking had slowly left him with an empty feeling. He silently made a list of what ingredients to buy tomorrow for the meal, even as he walked home.
Chris turned into a set of old, run down apartments. They were in disrepair, with the paint peeling off in numerous places, along with cracks along the walls. He climbed a set of creaking wooden steps up to the door on the top. He inserted his key into the rusty door knob, and with a sharp kick he opened the door.
The inside of the apartment looked just as bad as the outside. Spider webs hung in the corners of the small living room. The walls were in terrible condition, with the paint almost completely faded away and bits of plaster falling off. Spider webs occupied the plain and unused corners of the room, giving an eerie sense to the poorly lit apartment. The only furniture that was in sight was a small, low plastic table and a single chair. The table was covered with old letters, newspaper and ads. Off to one side of the room there was a small area to cook in, including a stove, oven, sink, cabinets and drawers. Enarby was a miniature fridge, capable of storing only a few items at a time. There were a few dirty dishes in the sink, but the open cabinet drawers were completely empty. Off to one side was a small garbage can that was overfilled with trash, and there were bugs crawling all over it.
Ignoring the mess, Chris bent down and grabbed that day’s mail from the ground in front of the door. He shuffled through the envelopes until he found the open he was looking for and opened it. Inside, there was a check with enough money for the rent, as well as several twenty dollar bills and a note.
“Dear Chris.” He read out loud. “Here is this month’s rent and two hundred dollars spending money for food and other crap. There’s no fucking way I’m giving you any more money then your monthly allowance, so stop being such a pussy and stop asking, you piece of shit. Uncle Joey.”
Chris didn’t even seem the bit offended by the letter. Instead, the calmly placed the note and opened envelope onto the table and put his money away for later use. He walked over to the kitchen, grabbed the old beaten up kettle, filled it with water and set it on the stove to boil. Since he didn’t feel like waiting, he headed towards his room.
His room was still the same as ever. Small, messy and very plain. The most expensive thing in his entire apartment was an old 98 Pentium computer that laid on his desk. His bed was shoved into one corner covered with old, worn down sheets and blankets. Next to the bed was a small stand with his alarm clock on it. The window barely let in any light, and the closet door on the other side of the room was handing off of it’s hinges.
Chris set down his backpack and sat at his desk, pushing a small area clean of food wrappers and trash. He pulled out a small sheet of paper out of his desk drawer and began writing a list on it. As soon as he decided what to buy the next day, he set down his pencil and turned his head towards a corner of his desk. Unlike the other corners of his desk, this area was completely devoid of garbage and dust. There was a single picture in a small frame, showing Chris at a young age riding on top of the shoulders of a man, with a shorter women standing next to him. They were all smiling and wearing bathing suits, with the ocean behind them.
“Hey Mom, Dad.” Chris’ voice was very small and soft, and there was a bit of sadness behind it. “Today was a good day, I guess. I got an A on my English Test. I couldn’t believe how easy it was when I took it last week, and now Mr. Benson has gone super easy. I don’t know if I told you this, but Coach Briggs has really mellowed out. I’m actually enjoying his class now. After school, me and Kou stayed in the library again. You like that, right Dad? You were always trying to get me to read more. Afterwards, we were joking around a bit, and then Kou did a stupid dance.”
Chris laughed, remembering. “He bumped into the janitor though, and knocked his down. While I was helping him out, Kou ran off. I managed to find him under the bleachers, crying, and let me tell you, a guy that big crying is almost hilarious! I…I told him how much he meant to me as a friend, and that cheered him up. He hugged me, and boy, he’s so damn strong! He nearly cracked my ribs. Anyways, I found out that he and his Dad only eat junk food all the time, and I told them that I would cook them something tomorrow. I just hope I haven’t forgotten what you taught me Mom. Yeah, I know I eat a lot of junk food myself lately, but I still eat something good every once in awhile.”
Chris cast his eyes down a bit. “I…I never realized how lonely I really was. After…after you two left me, I didn’t really care about anything anymore. No one wanted to take me in, no one wanted to be with me, it was just…so painful that I just closed up. I…somehow, I think me and Kou are a little alike, you know? And I think he does too, but he’s a big baby and everything.” Chris laughed.
At that time the kettle whistled. Chris got up from his desk and walked out to the kitchen. He took the kettle off the stove and poured the boiling water into a cup of instant noodles. Bringing the hot cup to the table, cleared the top, took a fork and began eating.
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