Edited as of 4/26/07. It's prettier now and not as bad. Stay tuned for edits of other chapters!
He hadn't tried to stop them. He never had. Such efforts were a pointless waste of energy, as he saw it. There was no reason to strain against them in an attempt to deter them. They would do as they wished despite any protest he made, so why not let them?
He didn't know whether he'd even be able to fight them off, but the uncertainty had never bothered him. It seemed much simpler to just let them do as they would, never interrupting—and when they were done, they would leave and he could do as he wished.
Of course, today that wasn't the case.
The usual things were there, the things he had come to expect—the insults, the sneers, the slaps and punches—but there was one thing he had never counted on. Kindness. Now, that was a novelty.
"I bet he's the one who did it—he's just a damn liar. And what the hell kind of a name is Socks?" the boy scoffed.
"I don't feel safe with a violent boy like that at my school. If he doesn't leave soon, I'll have to ask mother to take me to a different school."
"You don't have to leave. We'll make him leave."
"Socks" heard the plotting adolescents quite well from his position on the edge of the concrete at the front of the school, waiting for his ride to come for him. Only boredom and a slight, prickly feeling aggravation arose within him when he heard their talk; he was so used to hearing it that it barely fazed him.
When the small group appeared in front of him, he surveyed them with disinterested eyes, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Why are you still here? I thought I told you to scram yesterday!" one of the larger boys said, as gruffly as he could.
The boy just stared back at the crowd that was gathering around him.
"What? Nothing to say?" Another boy stepped forward, jerking him upward by his collar. Socks didn't make a sound as he was pounded into, his eyes glazed and distant. Those eyes were empty, had been since he'd arrived the first day in school with the word "Socks" written in thick black letters on his hand. Even after the letters had faded away, all his classmates still remembered him by that word, strange as it was.
"Say something, dammit!" a boy shrieked in desperation, grabbing the other by his collar. "Doesn't it hurt, you bastard?"
Socks' eyes met his and the other boy gave a slight shiver, but tightened his grip resolutely. "Of course it hurts," Socks answered simply and evenly.
"You're a freak," the other hissed, punching him in the face. He fell to the ground with a thud, his hands hanging limply at his sides—he hadn't bothered to protect his face, like most people would. There wasn't any point in it, protecting those crooked teeth and the pale skin that bruised terribly, but would certainly heal soon enough.
Only a few more minutes and it ended, the children drifting off to their separate homes. Socks was left still waiting to be picked up from school, so he was allowed time to survey the damage. His knee was raw and bloody, the wound peeking out from the hole in his jeans and staining the denim crimson around the edges. There were a few purpling bruises on his face, some curiously stinging marks from where his he'd hit the concrete, but most of the wounds were covered by his clothes.
His knee stung quite a bit, he had to admit, but the way the blood trickled slowly down his leg… it was quite pretty and—
The knife, sliding through pale flesh, wringing out fresh crimson—
The gun, the sound of the bullet spinning in the barrel, the smell of its powder in the air just after a bullet has been fired, straight into someone's heart—
The sound of their bodies, crumpling on the floor—
"Hey! Hey, are you all right?" a concerned voice shocked him out of the sensations burning through his senses. A young boy—about his age—was peering curiously at him, giving special attention to his bloody knee.
Socks blinked. "I'm fine," he said stiffly, trying to hide his surprise at the other's concern. He willed his face to retain its blank look and turned to face the other.
The boy knelt down, brushing away the fawn-colored hair that had fallen into his face as he stared at the wound. He was biting his lip in discomfort, and the other could only wonder why.
"This is bad. What happened?"
"Nothing. I just fell skateboarding."
"Aww, but your face is all banged up too! You must have hit pretty hard," the boy said, reaching out to gingerly touch the red bruise on the other's face. Socks couldn't tell whether the boy believed him or not, but he supposed it didn't matter…
Socks closed one eye, shying away from the contact. "Stop that," he said quietly.
The boy gave an aggrieved sigh, placing his hands on his hips. "Well, if you're going to act all tough about it…" He dropped his hands to his sides, a melancholy look in his chocolate-brown eyes. "The least I could do is bandage your knee…" The boy plopped down on the concrete beside him.
"I suppose you won't take no for an answer?" the other asked, looking down at his knee; the blood was beginning to dry and turn into a sticky mess.
"All right. Fine then," the other finally conceded, stretching out his leg so that the boy could take care of his wound.
The brunet smiled sweetly, scooting closer as he tugged a still-unwrapped bandage from his pocket. It was one of the large, square bandages, perfect for a scraped knee. The boy reached forward, moving the fabric of the other's jeans so that he could reach the wound.
"Hmm, you should have this cleaned as soon as you get home… the nurse has already gone, so you'll just have to wait. I bet it's got an awful sting to it, too." Chocolate eyes glanced up at the other before descending to the knee once more; the victim flinched slightly as gentle, cold breaths blew against his wound.
It worked wonders in helping him ignore the pain. He glanced at the kind boy, his breaths still blowing against his knee, while deft fingers removed the wrapping from the bandage. A moment later, the flesh-colored bandage was stuck onto his knee and the other boy stood, shaking the brown hair from his eyes.
"Here," the boy said, offering him a hand-up, which he accepted against his better judgment. The boy tugged him gently to his feet. "My name is Siren," the brunet said with a bright smile. "What's yours?"
"…Socks," he murmured, relieved to see the familiar Cadillac Seville pull up to the front of the school, stopping in front of him. "I'm sorry; I have to go. My ride's here."
The brunet blinked in surprise. "O-oh. Okay. Bye, then," he said, giving a little wave as Socks tugged open the car door, depositing his book bag inside before hopping into the seat himself. "And don't forget to clean that wound when you get home!" the boy called, just before the other shut the door.
As quickly as it had arrived, the car jumped to life and was gone, leaving the kind brunet to breathe in its exhaust as he, too, waited for his ride home.
The boy stared out the car window on the ride home, but he couldn't see anything.
AN: I hope old readers (if they're bothering to re-read this) will appreciate the editing and that new readers will be glad they didn't have to read the crap that was here before. Oh, and this prologue is thanks to an anonymous reviewer whose concrit really helped me out. Go, you! You're super. Anyway. Please review.