"Johnny! Why'd you run after him like that?" Ethan had discreetly dragged me out of the classroom before the teacher arrives. "You'd expected me to do nothing when our classmate was being bullied and humiliated?!" I snapped at him, running my fingers through my locks frustratingly. Ethan was taken aback. He cleared his throat awkwardly.
"It's not that," Ethan lowered his voice as he leaned in closer.
"You used to bully him," he revealed, sounding more like a question.
My face morphed into horror. "What?!" I yelled below a whisper. "That – that's impossible! I would never -" then I remembered I wasn't Johnny, to begin with. Fair enough. It also made sense now; how Ethel would flinch and turn around in haste when I catch him staring or when he would hesitate to speak to me.
"Crap…I did," pulling an act, I rubbed my face with the palm of my hands as if a wave of epiphany washed over me. Ethan watched silently, addled.
"I guess I finally realized what I did was wrong…so wrong. I should apologize to him," I gave him a crooked smile and scratched the back of my neck. He flashed me a bright smile and strode to my side to lightly smack my back like a proud father. "Atta boy! Go and make things right before the teacher arrives." Ethan gave me an encouraging shove into the classroom and I stumbled a little. He followed after and winked at me before taking a seat and turning to his right to converse with Elijah. Honestly, Ethan was the best.
Taking a deep breath, I sauntered to my desk as I eyed Ethel, who was toying with the drawstring of his hoodie, his entire head under his hood like always.
"Where's that punk?!"
The classroom door slammed open and heavy footsteps began to approach me. "Huh-?" before I knew it, I was punched hard in my left cheek. That was sure to leave a bad bruise. Dropping to the ground, I swiftly wiped the blood at the corner of my mouth and winced at the pain. I scoffed in disbelief and glared at the person who had fisted me to the floor.
"What's your problem?!" I tried to stand but he forcefully pushed me down again. I wheezed in pain when my back landed on the ground again.
"You," the man growled as I struggled in his hold.
"How dare you touch my girlfriend!" he grabs my neck and I gasped in shock. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Jay leave his seat to walk over and Dylan fishing for something in his backpack.
"I did not touch.... anybody!" I knocked my left knee into his crotch area with all the strength I could muster and swiftly got to my feet after the man lost his balance and fell to my side. Jay helped haul me up by my armpits. I coughed at the stinging pressure that lingered on the base of my throat, watching intensely as the man groaned in pain on the ground. The class watched silently as the scene played out.
His peers that accompanied him looked back and forth between the man and I, terrified to make a move. In a flash, one of them lunged at me with a rock-hard fist.
Jay held onto my shoulders and briskly exchanged places with me, kicking the man in the stomach with his heel, hard. The man keeled over and, in an instant, the other man standing pounced Jay, who dodged him easily. My eyes were wide open in shock, I didn't even notice that I was pulled aside and away from the scene.
A bone-crushing noise caused me to snap out of it. "Jay! Stop!" it was a futile attempt to get them to cease, but that was on impulse. The man who assaulted me was still crouched on the floor, writhing in pain. How hard did I kick him? I was starting to feel bad. The other guy was already on his feet as he got into a fighting stance. All of a sudden,
and both men dropped to the ground, revealing Dylan, who stood behind them with a Biology textbook in his hand. "...ah, finally it's quiet," with that, Dylan yawned and dropped the book on his table before casually returning to his chair, leaning against the backseat while the class went dead silent.
"You could've done that sooner," Jay grunted and rolled his shoulders before he dragged the knocked-out men by their feet to the corridor and out of the room, Ethan held the door open. After that, he approached the alleged boyfriend of the girl who bullied Ethel in the canteen and towered over him.
"Want me to knock you out too?" Jay's voice was orotund, causing the crouching man to shiver in fright. "Then walk yourself out, will you? For someone who barged into our classroom acting like he was some kind of mafia boss, you sure are feeble," the man staggered out of the classroom and accidentally bumped into a shelf, some of the trinkets and knick-knacks made by our classmates fell to the ground with a soft thud.
The man fearfully peeked at Jay, who watched from behind with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face. All it took was an anticipating arch of his eyebrow for the man to hastily grab them from the floor and return the ornaments to where they belonged on the shelf. Then, he stumbled out of our classroom with damaged pride.
I watched in awe and almost applauded.
"Does it still hurt?" Jay suddenly approached me and inspected my face, holding my chin to tilt my head carefully. I was flustered at his touch. "Yes, I'm okay," I slowly removed his hand and sighed in great relief. "Thank you for backing me up," Jay smiled and nodded. "I didn't know that the girl had a boyfriend though," I rolled my eyes in disbelief as I returned to my seat as if nothing happened. The class acted like it too, did it happen often?
"Hm, it's the similarity-attraction effect," Dylan hummed, his chin resting on his arm that was dangling on his desk. I snickered at his statement.
"Nice going with the Biology book by the way,"
"I just wanted to take a little nap before the teacher arrives but these rascals burst into our classroom like it was some kind of market-"
The door opened, followed by a nervous chuckle. "Do you guys know why two guys are napping on the floor out here?" the teacher pointed his finger to the corridor.
The boyfriend really left his friends and saved himself? Talk about loyalty.
"Speak of the devil," Dylan's eyes twitched, sitting up and lazily unpacking his books and pens onto his desk.
All of us shrugged at the teacher's query.
"Hm," the teacher pursed his lips and closed the room door. "Must've gotten kicked out by Ms. Kim again," he shook his head and started his lesson.
I chuckled and opened my textbook as I recalled what happened, suddenly remembering I hadn't apologized to Ethel yet.
I leaned over my table and tapped Ethel's shoulder to get his attention. He flinched and timidly peered over his shoulder.
"Do you have time after school?" I whispered, throwing him a smile after. His eyes widened and he averted his gaze around the room anxiously. "I don't think so," he said ever so softly. My smile faltered and I slunk back into my seat. "Ah, that's alright then,"
"What for? Might I ask..."
"I want to apologize formally," I stated, looking at him with a hint of determination in my eyes. "For what I've done, you know - in the past," I added because Ethel basically had a question mark above his head. "Oh," he turned around and immediately lowered his gaze, as if in contemplation.
The bell rang and all of us began packing up, some already dashing out of the classroom eagerly. I was laughing at a joke Ben made as he leaned on the shelf at the back of our classroom and waited for us when I felt a light tap on my hand. I turned my head to see Ethel fumbling at his words when I made eye contact with him. "Yeah?"
"I'll see you....at the school entrance," he rushed out of the room after that. I grinned from ear to ear and quickly swung my bag over my shoulder. "I'll meet you guys at the front," I patted Dylan and Nick's shoulders – since they were the nearest to me – and hurried out. "What –?"
"I'm sorry for bullying you – I'm sorry for making your life horrible – Nah," I practiced my speech as I speed walked to the front gate. I grinned when I turned the corner and saw Ethel small figure at the gates of the school, staring at the concrete school ground with his hands in his pockets, trying to keep himself warm. Winter was approaching after all.
Surprisingly, no other students were around the area. I promptly strode to him. Upon hearing the approaching footsteps, Ethel looked up and instantly gazed back down.
Suddenly, I grew nervous and shifted the pressure on my right foot to my left. "So," I clasped my hands together and brought them up to my chest. "I sincerely want to apologize for being a jerk -"
"Johnny! What are you doing?!"
"Oh, for heaven's sake," I rolled my eyes in agitation and turned around, standing face–to–face with a furious Dylan.
My second attempt to give a proper apology was ruined again.
He stared at me for a moment before averting his gaze to the boy behind me, his gaze turning into a cold glare. He looked like the spawn of Satan; you could almost see the hot blazing flames surrounding him.
"What are you doing?" he growled at Ethel who flinched and began to tremble.
"Dylan! I wanted to apologize. I'm sure you know why, calm down!" I grabbed him by the shoulders and peeked over mine in a fret to glance at Ethel.
He looked terrified.
"I don't see why you have to apologize," Dylan shoved my hands out of the way. "What?"
"He deserved what he got," he stated. I stared at him in disbelief, my mouth opening and closing in shock at his blunt words. Then, my eyes twitched in anger as I gave him a dirty glare. "How can you even say that?!" my hands balled into fists.
"I've done horrible things to him, Dylan!" in all honesty, I had no idea what Johnny did to Ethel in the past but all forms of bullying were never tolerable.
Dylan frowned deeply.
"You feel bad?" he whispered in a pained tone.
"Yes, I do! That's why I'm apologizing. At least I was going to until you interrupted."
"...even after everything I told you that day?" Dylan had a look of betrayal as his shoulders dropped, the rest of our friends stood behind him as they exchanged looks of confusion.
I took a step back and gaped at him, addled. After a moment, he scoffed and ran out of the building, harshly bumping my shoulder as he did so. Ethel was already long gone but I barely noticed, now troubled by another issue.
...what did he tell Johnny?
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