A/N: M to be safe really. I don't particularly know where it came from; I'm just glad I finished something – in regards to my other works I'm ashamed and I'm sorry! Hope people like this though.
The Storm Before the Calm
"What the fuck? Since when do you smoke?" Kate sneered glaring at the boy in front of her who was currently trying to melt into his school locker and who winced as she poked one of her long nails directly into his chest. "I thought you said you'd never smoke – your dad's a doctor…what are you sui-fucking-cidal?"
Ben guiltily avoided her eyes, allowing his bleached white hair to cover as much of his face as possible and hurriedly picked the packet of cigarettes up off the dirty hallway floor, shoving them hastily back into the depths of his locker and slamming the door shut.
"I just kinda picked it up, that's all."
"What one day you randomly decided to slowly kill yourself you mean?"
"No, one day I just thought fuck it why not, besides I picked it from G-"
"Gavin." Kate spat before he could finish, "say no more that explains it. He made you didn't he? I bet you've never even touched one when he wasn't there." Ben growled and flung his locker back open retrieved the cigarettes, pointedly took one out the pack along with a purple lighter and made for the schools exit.
"I get your point." Kate sighed catching his sleeve and leading him back, "just put it the fuck back." Ben listened to her and awkwardly leaned up against his locker. Kate had been his best friend for as long as he could remember and he loved her for it. She was a fierce friend and had such a strong personality that no-one dared go against. Ironically, her naturally soft brown curls, deep hazel eyes and less than average height gave her the impression of a soft, timid kind of beauty – those who both knew or ever dared to cross her found this was far, far away from that being the case.
She glared at him for a bit longer then finally let it drop. "Listen, this is the one day of the week you don't have to do anything with Gavin right, so just-"
"He doesn't make me hang around with him you know!"
"Yeah sure, whatever," Kate replied obviously humouring him "meet me outside of school when it ends, please? I have something really important to show you, okay?"
"Woah, what's wrong, are you okay?" Ben stood up straighter and all others emotions were drained from his face by the concern that was rapidly flooding his mind.
"Nothing's wrong," Kate smiled and gripped his hand lightly causing him to visibly relax, "I need to tell you something, and show it too you too…and I hope you can forgive me for keeping it from you." Ben raised his eyebrows inquisitively at her and taking a deep breath, she told him. "I have a boyfriend Ben."
Kate felt awful, she could see the hurt and surprise in her best friends eyes before they took upon themselves to guard all emotions as usual and his reply was nothing less than the reply she had expected – poorly guarded disappointment and hurt.
"Oh…wow, well congratulations! Who's the lucky fella then?"
"That's what I wanted to show you."
"Okay." He paused for a minute before, "how long?"
"About a month, I'm so sorry I wanted to tell you I really did but wanted us to keep it a secret…"
"He…never mind, it's fine, as long as you're happy." In all honestly, Ben was anything but fine. Kate had never kept anything from him before, and he felt confident in knowing that to be a fact, yet when he looked into her guilt laced eyes he couldn't bear himself to upset her more. Besides, he thought bitterly, its not like I can talk, what with all the secrets I have…this is karma biting me in the arse…I hope I'm not losing her. I can't lose her.
All of a sudden Kate's arms were wrapped firmly around his neck and she whispered "sorry" into his ear softly before adding "meet me later" and with one last guilt ridden look in his direction she had sped off to class.
Even though she knew it was the right thing to do Kate felt upset about it, Ben was the only person she never lied too and the thought that she had been for such a long time must be hurting him a lot and she felt so guilty for it - only she had to do it and as stupid as it sounded, it was for his own good. She thought back to earlier when she had put her plan into action.
"Jason!" The tall athletic boy turned round apparently confused from not recognising the voice that had shouted him, not that Kate blamed him – they had hardly ever spoke to one another.
"Heya, urm Kate right?"
"Right. Can I speak to you please?" She looked pleadingly into his sparkling blue eyes that unlike her his brother Gavin's glittered with warmth not hatred and spite – Gavin's always looked so out of place next to Ben's soft and deep green ones. Otherwise, their appearances were alike so much it was unreal. "I know we never speak but, I need a…I need a favour…"
"What kind of favour?"
"Well only if you don't like your brother that is…"
"He's a dick." Came the stiff reply, "I'll help you."
Fiver minutes later, Kate had explained her plan to Jason and thankfully, he had agreed to help.
Kate looked back down the hallway at her friend who was stood by his locker looking confused, lost and hurt and she hoped against all hope her plan was already working, that it would be worth it and she silently pleaded I hope you understand why I have to lie to you like this Ben.
School ended and Ben and Kate met each other outside school like earlier arranged, he was anxious, she was nervous and neither said much as they walked to the side of the school and stood near the building's vandalised wall. Kate stood with her back to it and made for forced small talk with Ben, watching for Jason over his shoulder, she finally saw him approach them both and braced herself for the next couple of hours.
Jason walked over to them both and when he reached hearing distance Kate introduced him to Ben, "Ben! This is him!" Ben turned round and his extended hand fell slowly to his side, probably unknowingly as he gawped at his best friends choice in boyfriend – his own boyfriend's, almost identical, brother.
"…Hi" he finally offered. Jason, feeling bad for what he was about to do even though Kate had strictly told him too, ignored him and backed Kate up into the wall kissing her roughly. Finally they pulled away and Ben looked on in horror as he heard the way Jason was talking to Kate.
"I thought I told you about other boys! If I find out you're cheating I'll kill you!" Fake venom was spurting out into his words and it shocked Ben how much Jason sounded like Gavin.
Kate looked down and mumbled something Ben couldn't hear and Jason roughly grabbed her chin so he could look her in the eyes again furiously saying "we'll talk about this later, I'm looking forward to your apology." With that he pressed himself into her, making the innuendo painfully obvious to a horror struck Ben who grabbed the larger boys arms and pulled him off his friend.
"Don't talk to her like that!" He snarled, "What makes you think you've the right?"
"Well she's my girlfriend isn't she?"
"Yeah but she's not your property!"
"Says who?" Jason snorted.
Kate stood between the two at that point, "look Ben just leave it, he's right okay? I'll see you later Jason." He huffed and walked off leaving Ben to round on Kate as soon as he was out of hearing range.
"What the fuck was that Kate! How could you go out with someone who treats you so badly? You can do so much better than that jerk! Are you okay? He was so forceful with you, he doesn't hit you does he? Kate?" He hugged her tightly and she hugged back startled to feel his lanky frame shaking, and pulled away almost instantly afterwards, emitting a huge sigh.
"He's not my boyfriend, in fact we never even speak to each other, I put him up to that. I wanted you to see things from my point of view. To recognise yourself in that situation and she how heart wrenching it is to watch." Ben looked at her, his eyebrows knitting together with confusion, "you still don't get it do you?" She sighed.
"Get what? And why'd you do that?"
"Come here Ben," she took his hands and looked into his eyes, "That's exactly how I feel every time I see you and Gavin together."
Ben's eyes widened in shock before he let them drop to the ground, "Why is it?"
"Because that's exactly how he is with you only a thousand times worse!"
"No its not…that's different."
"Its exactly the same. Why wont you let me help you Ben?"
"'Cause I don't need help!"
"Liar." She stated whilst reaching gently out for the hem of the simple black t-shirt he wore. "What will I see if I lift this up eh? Come on, what will I see?"
"Nothing!" He almost shouted, more out of panic than anything else, he jerked away and turned on his heel to leave but Kate was sick of this and she wasn't finished. Quickly she headed him off.
"You're lying again," and quickly she brought the soft material mid-way up his torso and revealed a mesh of brilliant colours; pinks, blues, purples, greens and blacks, old and new lined him making him appear to be the apron a messy artist might wear. She had known that was exactly what she would find, but as she stared at his stomach which was rising and falling quicker than usual, she found herself unable to move for shock. It was worse than she ever thought.
Finally Ben snatched the material back into place and glared at Kate which pushed her out of her trance like state. "I'm clumsy."
"You saw Jason push me against a wall and you were worried for my safety, Gavin hits you daily and has put you in fucking hospital before but still you're making excuses for him? You're such a hypocrite! Why Ben? Why do you defend him after everything he's done to you? After this?" She poked his stomach and watched sadly as he winced and hissed in pain.
"He doesn't do it that often…I make him mad Kate, that's all. It's my own fault…" Ben was whispering now and his voice was shaking as he thought about Kate's words.
Ben had awoken to the bright light of the hospital and his mother's worried cries five months ago.
"Ben! Oh baby thank god! I've been so worried about you! What happened? Who did this to you?"
"I…didn't know them mum, it was a random attack…"
In truth, that had been the first time Gavin had ever raised a finger to him – his punishment for trying to end their relationship and he hadn't tried it again since, Gavin however had never since stopped his newfound tactic of getting exactly what he wanted when he wanted.
"You're useless." Gavin laughed as he watched Ben hit the floor, "what you cant do one fucking thing for me?"
Ben whimpered as first one fist and then another connected into his stomach.
Gavin backhanded him around the face with such force his head swung round leaving his left check un-guarded for the next attack.
"No you don't make him mad, he's cruel to you because he wants to be and he's made you think that you deserve it, but you don't Ben, you don't! He doesn't even like you!" That hurt. Kate saw what she had said and hastily added, "Not for who you truly are anyway! Look I'm sorry but it's true!" She sighed at the look on Ben's face, one of pure indignation.
"Of course he likes me for who I am!"
"Oh yeah?" She adopted her sarcastic tone and raised her voice challengingly to Ben clearly warning him he was not to win this argument. "Why'd you dye your hair?"
"Well you can't blame me for looking!" he snapped. "Only ugly people have black hair, you should dye yours blonde – it'd look hot. We'll go back to mine and I'll bleach it for you, that sound good to you?"
"Well, urm…that's a bit, too out there, and I like black…" Ben's voice trailed off and died at the murderous flash he saw in Gavin's icy blue eyes.
"I was only trying to help you, you're so ungrateful. I've given you everything and you wont even compromise! I think that a new style would help your confidence too, but whatever."
"No…I'm sorry…I was just being hasty- I bet it would look okay…" Gavin pulled Ben into him for rough kiss, his way of saying 'there's a good boy' for listening.
Ben never had grown to like his hair.
"Because I wanted too. I fancied a change okay?"
"You hate change."
"Look just leave it alone right I'm happy okay? Why are you trying to break us up Kate?" This time his voice really did break and she saw with horror his eyes begin to glaze over and it killed her to know that this time that was her fault.
"Because you're not happy, you can't be. How can you be?" She reached her hand out to gently wipe the tears away from his cheek and not being used to that gentle tone he lent into her hand.
"I love him Kate."
"Yeah, I think you do, but not because you want too, because you think you have too and because he's never let you believe otherwise."
"No because he's -"
"Because he's what? Always there for you? Kind, caring, considerate? Gentle?" Her voice raised as she forced out, "Because he loves you back?" She snorted.
"He does love me!" Ben snapped and his voice rose to a height he had never used on Kate before.
She however, matched his tone, determined to make him listen. "When has he ever proved that? When he hits you? When he puts you down? When he cheated on you?"
Ben knocked twice on Gavin's door and waited for him to open it, the beer clutched in his hands that he'd been instructed to bring. A muffled sound reached his ears from inside the building, which was sorely mistaken for a sign to enter.
Pushing the door open Ben stopped dead inside the doorframe, letting the beer fall absentmindedly to the floor as he looked on in horror at the scene unfolding before him. Laying on the couch was one of the sluttiest girls he had ever seen; she had her skirt hiked up so far it could have been mistaken for a belt and her tight shirt was open revealing a black lacy bra. On top of her, was Gavin.
The sharp clanging of the cans on the hard wooden floor brought both Gavin and the girl back to reality and when Gavin turned round his eyes flashed with anger, that was for once, mirrored by Ben's usually soft green ones as he turned to leave. To his surprise he felt a soft hand grab hold of his wrist and against all will Ben turned to face him.
"I'm sorry Ben, so so so sorry!" Again Ben turned to leave and this time it was a forceful grip on his arm that held him back, "It was a mistake that's all, she came over for help on her math work and things just got out of control – would I really plan to cheat on you if I knew that you'd be round here? Please… I can't help it if she's all over me when I'm not getting any from you. I love you."
Deep in the back of Ben's mind he knew Gavin was failing maths but he didn't want to believe it and with pushing that thought firmly out of his mind he kissed back, also ignoring the smile he could feel playing on Gavin's lips with sweet victory.
"Only once, and it was a mistake."
"Bullshit and you know it."
And as much as he didn't want to know it, Kate was right, he did. Ben found himself shaking and he didn't know what for so he backed himself towards the wall for some much needed support. "He cares about me, he, he does…"
Kate walked up to him and stood bolt upright in front of him swinging the final blow, to which Ben had no defence be it weak or not. "He's using you for sex."
Ben stared up at the taller boy as best as was possible in the small, dark lighted supply room, who was stood blocking the door and smirking heavily. "Finally," with that he unzipped his trousers.
Ben stuttered "But…class…"
The cold reply left no room for argument. "The sooner you get me off the sooner you can get to class."
Those events in some form of another reoccurred every single day. In Gavin's car at lunch, in one of their houses after school…anytime really, and each time Ben never got anything back unless Gavin wanted something greater in return – his most famous method of achieving this was the classic "prove that you love me."
Ben was now sat on the floor, his back to the cold wall, his head hunched up into his knees with his arms folded protectively across the front of them, his hands absentmindedly playing with the torn ends of his jeans.
He didn't hear Kate sit next to him but he felt her warm embrace encircle him and he leant into her barely whispering the admission that pained him so much to say. "I know." Gently she leant her head on top of his and reassuringly rubbed her hands down his back.
"It's going to be okay you know," Ben snorted and though Kate said nothing, she knew he was crying. "I have a plan, to get rid of him forever." She said it softly and although she expected a less than enthusiastic response the cold, sarcastic and snappy comment he offered in return shocked her somewhat.
"Wow you've just thought of everything haven't you."
He must have realised just how much coldness was radiating from him because he sighed audibly and raised his head to guilty look into Kate's deep hazel ones silently apologising.
"Sorry. I just don't want too. Well I do because I know he treats me badly but sometimes he's really nice and it confuses me into thinking that I love him when he's just trying to get some. Only I do love him and," he brought his head up to meet the back of the wall and stared into the crisp blue sky before taking a shallow shaky breath and continuing, "I'm scared of what he'll do to me."
Two hours later Ben and Kate were in Ben's room awaiting the arrival or Gavin; Ben was on the edge of his bed his head in his hands and Kate was perfecting the hiding of her video camera on a bookshelf – much to Ben's utter disbelief.
"There's no wonder you wouldn't tell me earlier!" His voice was shaky and Kate's eyes saddened at the thought that the mere consideration that someone could get mad at him caused him this much obvious stress.
"It'll be fine." As much sympathy as she felt for him she couldn't help the slight annoyance she felt at his utter disbelief her plan could possibly work. And there he went again.
"I can't believe this is your brilliant plan." He hissed. "Record me getting the shit beaten out of me? There's no fucking wonder you didn't tell me this before you made me call him. You're a crazy bitch and I'm leaving."
"Its your house stupid. C'mon what half an hour tops and he'll be gone." With that she took the shaking boy in her arms and gently kissed the top of his forehead before she left to hide in his en-suite bathroom wondering if she really had thought this through enough to not get her best friend murdered.
Only minutes later his bedroom door slammed open and rebounded off the wall so hard several small and pointless items placed on his shelves fell to the floor. Gavin was not pleased.
Painfully Ben lifted his head up in order to stare into the deep icy pools of blue that were his boyfriend's eyes, mocking him, as ever, telling him he had to do the hardest thing he had ever done. Ben tore his eyes away through fear of drowning.
"I, I have something to tell you…"
"It had better be good." Ben froze and Gavin sneered, urging him on and daring him to defy him.
"Idontthinkthisisworkinganymoregavinandiwanttobreakup!" The words had come out in a jumbled mess and even though he dreaded the reaction they'd cause or even the need that he may have to repeat them for clarity but man was he glad they were out, the burning sensation of a personal victory was however very shortly triumphed by the burning sensation of Gavin's hand on his face slapping his head to the side in one fluid, familiar motion.
Grabbing hold of Ben's chin Gavin roughly forced his head back round and pushed the smaller boys form into the bed crawling up him, all the time never losing eye contact, trying to drown him in those icy pools once more. "What made you think you could disobey me now after everything? I'll do what I want to do, and no matter what you say you know you want it too. You don't have a choice."
This is why. He thought fiercely as he felt Gavin's nails dig into his chin. And all of a sudden he saw; he saw that Kate wasn't making him do this for the hell of it, and he saw why he had to do it, he saw he couldn't have been any more wrong and he saw what an ass Gavin really was. It wasn't so much a new thing for him to realise but it had shown him one thing; that he could make this stop, the misery that Gavin always seemed to force upon him, he simply saw that light at the end of the tunnel. And it was that light that gave him that strength. Strength enough to reach up and prise Gavin's hand off of his face and strength enough to utter the one word that was noting more than a foreign concept to him; "No. I do have a choice. You're not in it."
The courage it took to speak those words was shortly diminished by a pounding blow to his stomach, which was thankfully stopped by Kate tumbling out of his bathroom and into the room. Gavin retracted his hand long enough for Ben to be able to roll off the bed and escape putting enough distance between the two of them to ensure his safety.
"The fuck? What're you doing here? Get lost!"
"Urm, no." Ben feared Kate's sarcasm was going to earn her a punch but she continued nonetheless. "You're going to get lost and never touch Ben again."
"What the hell do you know bitch?"
"I know that you have a criminal record and if I was to report one more case of naughty behaviour you'll be in serious trouble…" She dragged the last two words out in a singsong voice that clearly told Gavin this was one battle he wouldn't win.
"Fine. He wont find anyone else though, he's useless." Ben hung his head in shame at the insults whereas Kate just humoured him, as wrong as that sounds. She understood that these were the last insults he would ever have to bear from Gavin, and she was glad for that – the storm before the calm if you will.
"Fuck off." she ordered. And he did. Though not before getting the last word, turning directly to Ben where he held eye contact letting him see the malicious glint in his eyes.
"You always were a lousy shag anyway."
And he was gone. Out of Ben's room and out of his life. He left Ben with a lot – nothing good that is and yet when he left, he left a tiny part of Ben somewhat hollow, so much so he couldn't even find it within himself to be happy even right now.
Silent tears were gushing down his cheeks that he didn't even notice until he felt Kate softly rub them away and they collapsed into each other, the hug was so tight neither knew where the other began - just that they were there for the other.
"I love him. I don't want too but I do."
"I know, but you're free now and you'll get over it and find someone who loves you too. Promise."
And he did.