Rating: PG 13
Word Count: 3135
Summary: David Desrosiers isn't your typical sixteen year old boy living in Juneau, Alaska. Bullied relentlessly by Pierre Bouvier, a boy he's known since elementary school, David and his best friend Jenny come up with a back-handed plan to seek revenge on the boy who makes their lives a living Hell.
Disclaimer: Don't know, don't own, didn't happen!
Author's Note: Hey there! Not really much to say today. Hope you enjoy!
Throughout the night, David continued to tell Jenny things about Pierre that simply blew her away. She would have never guessed that there was a soft, insecure, truly caring person underneath all that male bravado and why should she have bothered to? David didn't make excuses for Pierre's behavior because he knew it was inexcusable. Instead, he explained Pierre's situation—from his home life where perfection was demanded of him constantly, to his school life where the story was much the same—and hoped that it might bring a little understanding to his best friend.
“It's wrong, the way he's always treated us,” David had told her with a solemn nod. “But... he's just a kid, ya know? He just wants to be himself and do what makes him happy but everyone has their own ideas as to how he should act and what he should accomplish. There's so much pressure on him from every direction. I'd never thought about it until he talked to me about it. Everyone thinks he's perfect and that's a lot for one kid to keep up with... Of course it doesn't justify all the bullying but... I get it. The important thing is that he's sorry. I mean... he's really sorry. I saw it in his eyes when he apologized to me, he wasn't faking it, Jen. He had tears in his eyes. He... He meant it.”
Jenny had nodded slowly in response but she didn't say anything about it and David knew that her non-verbal response was as good as he was going to get on the matter of Pierre Bouvier. What had he expected, really? He had known that she wouldn't be so quick to forgive him. After all, she wasn't pulled into it by an undeniable attraction to the senior. David had wondered briefly if he would have felt such a strong pull to forgive Pierre if he hadn't been so head-over-heels for the boy already, though he reminded himself that there was no way of knowing and he had let it go. He knew that there was no point in wasting anymore time thinking of Pierre as if they were going to get back together. He knew that Pierre wouldn't forgive him for the lying and also that he would never get a chance to explain what had really happened to the older boy; it killed him a little bit inside but he understood that it was his own fault. He would just have to live with it.
Neither Jenny nor David knew what to expect when they got to school the next day. They both wondered if Pierre would turn Jenny into the principal now that he knew she had been the one to post all of the pictures, but when they arrived it was as if nothing had changed. Once again, everyone was back to ignoring the two—though, to be fair, they had never stopped ignoring Jenny in the first place—and neither one of them were approached throughout the day by any teachers or staff members. Still, there was a sense of foreboding between the two of them as the day played out, wondering if perhaps Pierre was still planning on telling the principal the truth and simply hadn't had the chance yet. By the time the week had reached its end, however, still nothing had happened and David and Jenny knew that Pierre was going to keep this secret. The only question that remained was: why?
“I just don't get it,” David sighed as the two walked into his room, closed the door and sat down. This was the only way to get privacy anymore because David's father had finally been released from the hospital and was set up for the time being in the living room on the couch. It was difficult for him to get around and his spot in the living room left him almost equally close to the kitchen and the bathroom, while also leaving him parked in front of the TV to pass the time while he was alone. David felt guilty about not spending more time with him while he was actually at home for a change, but there were certain topics that he knew couldn't be discussed in front of his father, not to mention how distracting his father could be while he was trying to do his homework. He would get in a few hours in his room before going to spend time with the man, he told himself.
“Don't get what?” Jenny asked skeptically.
“Why hasn't he told anyone?” David pondered. Jenny shrugged and gave a look to suggest she had no idea, though she didn't respond in any other way and went immediately to her homework. David looked at her with a half smile, knowing why this was all the effort his question had been afforded: he had asked the same question multiple times each day that week. Jenny hadn't had an answer for him the first time he had asked it and he knew the answer was no clearer to her now. He sighed and began to pull his textbooks out of his backpack, deciding to let it go for the time being. There was no point continuing to ask the same question when he knew neither one of them had the answer.
After Jenny had gone home for the night, David packed his things back into his messenger bag and made his way out to the living room. His father was sitting on the couch in his usual spot watching TV with his crutches just within reach to his right and a beer on the coffee table in front of him.
“Should you be mixing alcohol with your medications?” David asked in a parental tone as he took a seat on the couch to the left of his dad, his eyebrow raised.
His father rolled his eyes and patted David on the shoulder. “Lighten up a little, would ya? It's not like I'm gonna be driving anywhere,” he reasoned, and as he did he picked up one of his crutches, shook it a little for emphasis and set it back down.
David smiled halfheartedly and shook his head. “Alright, I suppose,” he responded quietly before turning to the television. His father was watching some black and white show that he had never seen or heard of before, something which surprised him a little bit. If he was being honest, he had a hard time imagining his father watching anything other than sports, though to be fair, he had to admit that the list of things he knew about his father was much shorter than the list of things he didn't know. He made a mental note to add “likes old TV shows” to that list.
David wasn't aware that his father had been watching him until the man spoke, and when he did, it was something that David wouldn't have thought his father would say.
“What's going on with you? You seem like something's wrong.”
Instantly David's defenses were up. He turned toward his father with wider than usual eyes and a pink tint in his cheeks, shaking his head slowly in an attempt to shoot down the man's suspicions, but he could tell from the look on his father's face that he wasn't fooled for even a second. Still, he gave what was supposed to be a nonchalant, “What? No, nothing's wrong.”
“You've always been a terrible liar, David,” his father told him with a half smirk. “You got that from your mom.”
“Dad, I'm not...” David started, though he didn't finish because he knew there was no fooling the man.
“If you really don't wanna talk about it, I won't make you,” his father told him. “But you never know, maybe I'll have some answers that you haven't thought of yet.”
David nodded and averted his eyes to the TV again, not wanting to tell his father about any of the things that had been going on. As he tried to make himself watch that old show, however, suddenly David couldn't get his mind off of what his father had just said to him. “It's... kind of a long story,” he started quietly, his eyes flicking down to his lap in a mixture of embarrassment and shame. He heard the sound of the TV clicking off and knew that he had his father's attention. With a sigh, he began to talk, telling his father about everything from the very beginning, explaining about his plan with Jenny and the way he had fallen for Pierre, down to losing the game and the pictures being posted the following Monday at school. The whole time he talked, his father just listened quietly. It felt weird to be explaining all of this to the man he had barely known, but he couldn't deny that it felt nice at the same time to be able to get it all off of his chest to a non-biased party.
“And now the hockey team has been disbanded until someone comes forward and says they put the pictures up but if Jenny and I come forward, we're both gonna get expelled... I know we should tell the truth but I'm scared. I thought for sure Pierre was gonna tell the principal that it was me and Jenny but it's been a week since he found out and he hasn't said anything and I just don't get why...”
David let his words trail off and he didn't say anything more. He was at the very end of his story, unable to continue it until he got past the question of “why”. Until he knew that, he wouldn't know how to proceed. Perhaps that was why he hadn't come forward and restored the hockey team, yet.
“You sure dug yourself a hole, didn't you?” his father responded, this being the first thing he had said in nearly ten minutes since David had started his story. David looked up at the man, shocked to see that he was smiling in a knowing manner.
“Yeah...” was all David could bring himself to say before he looked back down at his lap, irritated by the way his father obviously found amusement in his situation.
“Did I ever tell you about when I almost got expelled from high school?” his father asked out of the blue. David furrowed his brow and looked back at his father, shaking his head slowly. “You know I grew up in Iowa, right?” David stared at his father and shook his head again, amazed by all of the things he apparently didn't know about the man. “Well I did. I grew up in this tiny farming town, graduated with thirty people in my class. I was one of the few kids that didn't grow up on a farm and I didn't really fit in with the other kids. They called me 'city boy' and stuff like that which I didn't really mind. Anyway, it was my senior year, the last month of school, and my classmates had come up with a big prank they were gonna play on the school. They actually involved me, which I guess I should have thought was weird, but I was just kinda glad to be involved for once.
“The senior guys all got their trucks or their dad's trucks and loaded up one kid's family's whole damn herd of sheep. Then we snuck in the school and put 'em all in the gym. There was supposed to be a mandatory school assembly the next day about graduation and when everyone showed up, the place was full to the brim of sheep.”
David couldn't help but laugh at the prospect of it, imagining what it would be like if he walked into his school's gym and found it stuffed full of livestock. His father smiled fondly at the memory, allowing himself a little chuckle and a nod before he continued. “The principal wasn't very amused. He said no one was graduating that year unless someone came forward and took responsibility for the prank.” David stopped laughing and watched his father more seriously, wondering if he had chosen a career in commercial fishing because he hadn't been able to graduate high school. He had always just taken it for granted that his parents had finished high school. His mother had been a doctor, so she had obviously been through several years of college, but his father? How hadn't it occurred to him that he didn't know?
“So, did you...?” David started to ask, unable to finish the question; he felt like a moron even having to ask.
“No one else would go forward about it. I figured either way I wasn't going to get to graduate so why ruin it for everyone else? I helped put those sheep in the gym, so I should take responsibility for it.”
“Wow,” David responded softly, looking at his father in a new kind of light. What a noble and brave thing to do, he thought, when it hadn't even been his idea. He had just gone along for the ride. David suddenly felt even more cowardly for not coming forward with the truth of what had happened to him and Pierre. “So... you got expelled?”
“Funny thing happened. I went and told the principal that I had done it... but they didn't expell me,” his father told him with a nod.
“Did they not believe you?”
“No, they believed me but they didn't really want to ruin a kid's life for a stupid prank. That's the thing about most adults, they understand that kids don't make the best decisions. It's part of growing up. The thing that makes a kid into an adult, though, is owning up to the things they've done. They knew I knew I was facing expulsion and I still came to them and told them the truth. That's all they really wanted, David. They wanted to see that whoever did it was grown up enough to admit they had done it.”
“So... you didn't get in trouble, then?”
The laugh his father gave told David that he had still gotten in trouble. “Man, I wish. I still got in trouble. I had detention for the rest of the year after school, but instead of sitting in a classroom and doing my homework, I had to clean the gym up back to its original condition. Do you have any idea how much a sheep poops overnight?” David shook his head in response and his father gave another laugh. “Well, it's a lot. It took me weeks before the gym was cleaned up. I also had to pay for all the damages the sheep had done to the school which meant I had to get an after school job. So for the last month of school, I had to clean up the gym until five pm every night and then I had to go down to the tire shop and work until nine. Then I had to go home, do my homework, study for my finals and get up and do it all again the next day. It was hard but it taught me a lesson.”
David was silent as he thought about the story his father had just told him. “Do you think I'll get expelled if I tell the truth about what happened?” he asked quietly.
“I don't know, David,” his father replied softly. “These are different times and this is a different situation. If I was the principal, I wouldn't expel you for it... but if you do get expelled for it, don't you think you kind of earned it?”
David sighed softly and nodded. “I guess you're right.” He looked up at his father again, his eyes showing fear. “But what am I supposed to do if I do get expelled?”
“You're only a junior. If you get kicked out of school, you can go to another school next year. You'll do summer school to catch up what you miss the last few weeks and you'll start off where you're supposed to be next year. Sure, you'll have to drive a little farther, but it won't be the end of the world... Not like for some of those kids whose chances at a future might be wiped out if the hockey team doesn't get reinstated. Some of those kids want to become professional players. Some of them want to play in college. Some of them might even just want to get a scholarship to a college so they can go to school for free. It's not right to take that away from them because you made a mistake. It's time to step up and be an adult. I think you know it's the right thing to do.”
David nodded and gave another sigh. “You're right. First thing Monday morning I'll go to the principal and tell the truth.”
“I'm proud of you, son,” his father replied.
David felt his heart swell in his chest and he smiled, unable to explain even to himself just how much those words meant to him. “Thanks dad,” he responded before standing and beginning to move away. “I'm gonna go to bed.”
David's father nodded and watched his son move away toward his bedroom, though as he got to the hallway he called out and stopped him. “Oh, and David,” he started, stopping David in his tracks.
David turned and faced his father again, his head cocked to the side in curiosity. “What's up?”
“There's a simple reason Pierre hasn't told anyone that it was you and Jenny.”
David turned to face his father more completely, curiosity splashing his features. “What's that?”
David's father smiled and replied, “He's protecting you. I would do the same thing for someone I loved.”
All expression drained from David's face, leaving his features blank and his mouth hanging slightly open. He nodded, unable to give any other kind of response, and turned back down the hallway, making his way into his room. He closed the door behind him and leaned up against it, his mind spinning with what his father had just told him.
“Pierre... loves me?”
With that thought, he turned off the light, pulled off his jeans and climbed into bed, too wound up to really sleep but too confused to do anything productive, either. The night had been chock-full of thoughts that had never occurred to him and this one... well, this one took the cake.