Another Wednesday rolls around, and with it another installment of Cyan. The message this week. Be careful what you say when you can be overheard, especially when what you say can so easily be misinterpreted when only half of it is heard.
“Shit, Cyan, what the hell happened?” Robin tried to pull up more of Cyan’s shit to assess the damage.
“Don’t touch me,” Cyan hissed, pulling away.
“Okay. I’m sorry.” Robin held up his hands, palm outwards. “Can I just take a look? You lift your shirt and I’ll look. I won’t touch. Promise.”
With a reluctant frown, Cyan pulled his shirt entirely out of his trousers and twisted, trying to see in the mirror. The bruise ran from the front of his hip bone, to the middle of his back. It was already purpling ,and had to hurt.
“How did that happen?”
“I was only pushed in the mud, remember?”
Robin sighed inwardly. “Okay, I asked for that. Can you please tell me what happened?”
“They pushed me in the mud,” Cyan repeated stubbornly, and Robin sighed again.
“Okay, what did they do after they threw you in the mud?”
Cyan gave Robin a long, tight lipped stare, then sighed and started to tuck his shirt into his trousers again.
“They stamped on me,” he said.
“They what?” Robin’s temper, always on a short fuse, blazed through him; white hot.
“They stamped on me,” Cyan repeated, checking his tie in the mirror. “It hurt but it was quick. I don’t mind too much when it’s quick.”
Feeling sick, Robin managed to growl out. “Who did it?”
Cyan turned to him and frowned. “I don’t want to tell you,” he said.
“Because you’ll make things worse.”
“I promise, I won’t. I just want to know who it is so I can talk to them and tell them not to do it again.”
Cyan snorted. “As if,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Either you really are going to talk to them, in which case you might as well stay here and bang your head on the wall, or you’re going to get into trouble, and I don’t want you to get into trouble.”
“I promise, I won’t. I’ll only talk to him. And I promise it will do more good than banging my head on the wall.”
“How? How can you promise that?”
“Because between me and my friends we pretty much rule the school. I’m on the swim team, Alex is a star football player. Aivah wins trophies in the Eisteddfod. The teachers love us; the school need us, and everyone know how to push us. I just need to tell him nicely that ‘us’ now includes ‘you’.”
Cyan’s eyes widened. “Are you really that important?”
“I don’t know about important. Influential maybe.”
Cyan examined him again for a while then nodded. “I don’t know their names,” he said, “but one of them had weird hair-all spiky, and he was big. Another one talked funny, that is, with a m accent.”
“Did one of them have a scar on his lip? Greasy black hair?”
Cyan thought for a moment, then nodded.
“I know who they are. Go back to the common room and wait for me there. I won’t be long.”
“What are you going to do?” Cyan sounded scared, and Robin reached out to pat his arm reassuringly.
Fortunately he snatched back his hand before it made contact.
“I’m going to find them, and talk to them. That’s all.”
“Absolutely. Go back to the common room and wait.”
Cyan bit his lip and nodded.
Ben was still outside the door, leaning against the wall with his arms folded.
“Have fun, you two?” he asked with a grin.
“Hardly. Can you walk Cyan back to the common room?”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“To find Blake Harries and his crew.”
Ben’s eyes widened. “Need help?”
Ben nodded and started up the corridor. Cyan remained, staring at Robin. “Come on then,” Ben said sounding frustrated. Are you coming, or what?”
“I…um…yeah.” Cyan followed, casting worried glances over his shoulder.
Robin knew exactly where Blake Harris would be, and he headed straight there. They weren’t the common-or-garden variety of bully. These were the ‘rich boys’ pretending to be ‘bad boys’ kind. The kind who wore shades in the winter and always had girls hanging around with them.
“What do you want, gay boy?” Blake asked while the others jeered. “What some of what your boyfriend had?”
Robin ignored him; he ignored them all. Storming through the group without unstoppable determination, he slammed into Blake and would have knocked him over if the hadn’t already grabbed the front of his shirt. If there had been a wall he would have slammed him into it, but he had to make do.
“Keep your filthy mouth shut, Harris,” Robin hissed, “and keep your filthy hands – and feet – off my friend.”
“Boyfriend,” one of the others jeered, but there was a nervous edge to it now.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Let go of me.”
“I will. Don’t worry, I will, but not before you swear an oath never to lay a finger on Cyan again.”
“And what if I don’t?”
“You know what I can do…what we can do. Make your lives a misery. I don’t have time for this. Just swear.”
“Hey man,” Will Pearce, one of Blake’s cronies piped up. “There’s no need for that. It was only a bit of fun. We weren’t going to play with the retard no more.”
“What did you say?” Robin let go of Blake and rounded on Will, who looked a little taken aback.
“We were only playing, Robin. It was a new game – throw the retard in the pond.” Everyone sniggered, but Robin snarled.
“Cyan is no retard. He’s different, that’s all. But let me make this simple for you. In your own words. The next time you’re thinking of playing pick on the retard, think again. Because if you lay one finger on him again, I’ll rip your fucking arm off.”
A strangled cry, caused Robin to spin. Cyan stood a few feet away in the corridor. The expression on his face made Robin’s stomach churn