"I bet three punches could take that guy out."
Ryan DeLary sighed as he leaned against one of the many large windows lining the second floor of his dilapidated school, King's High.
"Did you hear me Ryan? That kid looks easy."
Running a hand over his short, brown hair, Ryan smiled. "I'm sure you can Shelby." He turned to pat his friend on the shoulder. "No one doubts that you're good at fighting."
He looked around at the crowd of seniors gathered in a semicircle. "Right guys?" he said with amusement, "It's agreed that Shelby kicks ass…even if he has a girl's name."
An obligatory round of anxious laughter emitted from the crowd as the boys gathered desperately tried to curry favor with their leader. Ryan snorted, and turned back towards the window, closed his eyes and let the sun wash over his face. "What a bunch of drones."
A boy on the left side of the group had the audacity to mutter "A bunch of what?" sarcastically, earning himself a slap upside the head.
Ryan ignored him. It wasn't worth it, besides, punishing a senior when there were lower classmen around is just bad form. He tugged on the collar of his uniform, "tsking" in disgust that the princeple had finally grown the balls needed to order the boy to wear a tie.
Finally the morning bell rang and his followers dispersed. Ryan picked his bag off the floor and gestured with a nod for Shelby to follow him. As he walked, the regular flow of students careened away from him like oil from water.
Shelby, a wiry teenager leaning towards short in the height spectrum swung an arm around Ryan's shoulder. "Are you P.M.?" he said, nodding at some fellow seniors as they walked.
"Why do you ask?" Ryan replied with a growl, although he was smiling amicably.
"I get flak for my name, but you let little Flinty off the hook for talking back. What kind of bull-"
He stopped talking to point at some freshmen, "Yo, asshats, why aren't you bowing?"
They immediately started tweedling some apologies as they bowed towards Ryan, who towered above them with a detached smirk. He waved them away with nonchalant hand, and continued walking.
"Shelby, if we stop every time a froshie doesn't follow protocol, I'm going to be late for class."
The shorter teenager snickered and shook his head. "Ryan, Ryan, Ryan…" He once again placed an arm around the brunette's broad shoulders. "My dear friend Ryan, this is your second semester of senior year."
Ryan nodded at a sophomore who bowed quickly as she scurried by the two friends. "Oh, really?" he said, "I had no idea."
Shelby laughed. "You can try to act cool about it, but you know what I'm talking about. When did you beat Skylar in a fight? The second semester of his senior year."
As they reached their classroom, Shelby turned to stand in front of Ryan, putting a hand on each shoulder as he stared intently into his friend's eyes. "This is the time when every kid in the school who wants Top Spot is gonna start wondering if they should give fighting you a go."
Ryan smiled, his perfect white teeth glinting. "You worried about me?"
"Please." Shelby gave his friend a slight push as he spun around to walk into the classroom.
The atmosphere was tight and anxious as the two boys strolled into the room. There was none of the usual chattering and shouts at Ryan for him to come hang out with them. Everyone was silent, watching as Ryan reached his desk.
On the wooden table were a banana and a note. Ryan looked up to survey the classroom. "Who put these here?"
Finally a girl who hung out with Ryan's group sat up and said, "Some kid, he didn't look old enough to be a senior."
As he unfolded the note, Ryan took a second to contemplate the fruit sitting on his desk.
After school in the courtyard
Eat the banana and save your strength
You'll need it.
Ryan snorted. "Is this a joke?" He handed the note to Shelby and sat down, throwing his legs up on the desk as he tilted back. "Who the hell is Devin Meers?"
The classroom erupted into quiet mumbles as everyone asked everyone else if they had heard the name before. After a few moments, the talking subsided.
Shelby slammed the note down on the desk, and turned to a girl sitting in the corner. "Alice Chambers, you work in the office, who the hell is this kid?"
The girl shrank lower into her seat, unable to speak.
"Shelby, calm down." Ryan now had an amused tone. "It's alright Alice," he said, glancing back at the shy girl, "If I don't know his name, then he's no one important."
With a wave of his hand, the classroom returned to normal just as the teacher walked in. Shelby quickly sat in his own seat, and snatched away the note to study the handwriting.
At the break, Ryan pretended to sleep as all of the other students filed out of the classroom. He needed a break from Shelby's constant worrying.
Just as he was actually starting to drift off, a voice very close to his ear whispered, "Devin Meers, Junior, sixteen years old...transferred here from across the country at the beginning of the year."
Ryan smiled. "Thanks Alice." When he opened his eyes, she was gone. The boy shrugged and closed his eyes again. A transfer student? Nothing to worry about. He may be in his second semester, but now was not the time obsessing over every threat to his position. Ryan felt the grasp of the real world starting to take hold…applying for college, moving away from home…King's High was starting to lose its importance for the teenager as he became more and more restless.
Sighing, Ryan opened his eyes to find a freshman standing in front of him, twiddling his thumbs. "What?" he replied with irritation.
"I was told…well…"
"Spit it out kid, I'm trying to sleep."
The freshman squeaked in fright at Ryan's outburst, and tried to gather his courage to speak. "Um, I was at the mall yesterday…and these kids from Regers stopped me."
Ryan sat up suddenly, staring at the kid. "And?"
"They said Tommy Kagula had a message for Top Spot…something about missing an appointment…he said not to make that mistake again."
Ryan nodded slowly. "Fine. Go away."
Sitting back in his chair, he let out a groan of frustration. "Damn Tommy…" he muttered.
After school, Shelby shadowed his friend nervously, fluttering around like a bug. "Do you plan on going to the courtyard Ryan?"
"Why would I do that?"
"So you're…turning down a challenge?"
Silence was the answer. Ryan now had to deal with the Tommy issue, which was far more pressing then a note left by some faceless transfer. Waving away more bowing students, Ryan quickened his steps. Upon reaching his car, Ryan turned to look at Shelby, but before he could say anything, there was a shout.
Both teenagers turned slowly to see a boy standing ten feet away from them, the crowd around him tumbling away as if he were suddenly a plague. His eyes were blue, however his hair was jet black. His height was probably only an inch or so shorter than Ryan.
"I'm guessing this is Devin Meers." Ryan's tone was nonchalant, however he still took a moment to appraise his opponent. He leaned against the side of his car and crossed his arms over his chest. The expression on his face was bored, with half-lidded eyes.
Shelby twitched with anger, his high-strung mind already trying to figure out if he knew anything about this new threat to his friend. "You can't just ignore him, you'll lose face."
Snorting, Ryan shoved off the car and walked deliberately over to the glaring junior. Every set of eyes in the school was trained on the pair of teenagers, every throat holding a collective breath. This type of confrontation had occurred many times over the history of Top Spot, but it was the first for Ryan DeLary. His reign had never been challenged.
Upon reaching within normal speaking distance from Devin, Ryan smiled. The boy was breathing heavily, and actually looked angry. Ryan was not impressed.
"Did you just address me as 'Hey You'?"
Devin smirked, "I don't show respect for chickens."
Ryan heard Shelby start sputtering behind him, not to mention the general murmuring throughout the crowd, and frowned. This kid had balls. He crossed his arms again and looked straight into Devin's eyes. The stupid punk actually shifted nervously under his gaze.
So, he was scared. Good.
"Chicken?" Ryan's eyes were shining with amusement now. He was already caught up in this circus; he might as well enjoy it. He walked closer to Devin, and swung an arm around the boy's shoulder, as if they were buddies. Devin stiffened awkwardly at the touch. "Devin, kid, it seems as if you have some sort of unfortunate impression of me…something I would like to clear up."
Devin had gone completely pale now that Ryan's smiling face was inches from his own. Only he was close enough to see the hardness in the taller boy's eyes, the sharp glint that was telling Devin that he had made a huge mistake.
Ryan almost felt bad for the kid, but lessons needed to be learned. "What is it that you want Devin Meers?"
A gasp was heard, and then more muttering. It was the first official request for a fight; the Top Spot was finally in jeopardy. Ryan's smile never wavered, but his eyes showed a flicker of anger.
He disengaged himself from Devin and walked back to Shelby, leaning in to whisper with his friend. Handing his keys over, he said, "Start the car, this should be over soon."
Shelby nodded, but remained still. Ryan waved him away again, and this time he went off at a run towards the car. Turning around, Ryan smiled at Devin. "Fine. We will fight."
The words were barely out of his mouth when Devin took the first swing. Ryan dodged it easily, and slammed his fist into the kid's stomach. Wheezing, Devin slid away. He was fast, Ryan would give him that.
The exchange continued with Devin trying to land a punch while Ryan was successfully rotating between dodging and hitting. The kid was starting to look a little worse for the wear, but he kept his ground.
Ryan was enjoying himself a little too much. He hadn't fought a real schoolyard brawl since his win against Skylar. He was focused, and he moved like liquid.
Suddenly Devin made a jab for his stomach, which he avoided, only to find the kid's fist flying straight for his jaw. As the hit connected, someone in the crowd screamed. Ryan was fazed, but recovered quickly as he put all of his force into a single punch to Devin's side. The kid collapsed, trying to refill his lungs with air. Blood from his lip dropped onto the ground.
The official rule for winning Top Spot fights was that the losing opponent had to be down for five seconds. Everyone waited with baited breath, but Devin did not even try to stand up. As the five second mark turned, Ryan closed his eyes. His head was swimming from the impact to his jaw, but he knew he couldn't show it. He looked down at Devin.
"You brat. I hope you learned something."
With that, he turned around and headed for his car. He stopped however when he heard a wheezing sound. It was Devin.
"I'll beat you next time."
In his car, Ryan was silent. Shelby was twitching nervously as usual, and periodically looked over at his friend. "He landed a hit."
"I'm aware of that."
"Ryan…when you were a junior, no one was able to land a hit…that was your signature. Only Skylar could."
There was silence. Ryan's eyes were glazed over, and half-lidded again as if he was bored with the conversation.
"Maybe this is just fate."
Shelby jerked his head around. "What?"
Ryan smirked. "Never mind."
He pulled up in front of Shelby's house, but grabbed his friend's arm as the wiry teenager started to clamber out of the car. "Tommy's bothering our kids."
Shelby looked at him silently and nodded. "How long do you think he'll put up with you avoiding him?"
Ryan let go of Shelby and turned back to face the road. "I don't know. Deal with it Shelby."
His friend nodded and shut the door to the car. Ryan switched on his music, and drove away.
It was so typical that problems would start piling up in the middle of his senior year. He would be applying for college soon, and the last thing he needed was an issue with Tommy, not to mention some upstart who could actually hit him.
"Fuck this." He would just go to the mall and buy a scoop of cake-flavored ice cream. If that did not make him forget his problems, nothing would.
At the mall, he saw several students from King's High, all of whom bowed to him nervously. He ignored them. Quickly buying his ice cream, he picked up his pace as he headed back to the parking lot. He hated running into people he knew.
Outside, he had barely made it to his car when he noticed a group of high school kids with a different uniform from his own. It was the Regers uniform. They appeared to be dragging someone behind the building.
"Are you sure this is him? He already looks like someone got to him."
The group of Regers students was made up of ten boys, all tough looking. They stood in a circle around their pray.
"Yeah this is him, Tommy said he would probably be mashed already."
Devin Meers looked around at his captors and stood up. "What is this?" He had gone to the mall to buy band-aides for his lip, and instead got hijacked by a bunch of punks.
The kid who appeared to be the leader of the group snickered. "Well dumbass, you pissed off Tommy Kagula, and he told us to squish you like a bug."
Devin smirked at him. "Who?"
The answer came from a new voice. All of the teenagers swung around to find Ryan DeLary leaning against the wall behind them, his arms crossed. "Also known as the biggest thorn in my side."
Before the punks had time to answer, Ryan walked between them to Devin. Looping his arm around the kid's shoulder in a move that was reminiscent to only an hour before, he glared at the other boys.
"So tell me, why are a bunch of Regers punks pulling one of my kids behind a wall?"
The leader smirked. "We're gonna beat him senseless, you too if you don't get out of the way."
Ryan appraised this asshat quietly. Devin on the other hand was staring open-mouthed at Ryan. He nearly jumped in shock as Ryan leaned his head in close to Devin and whispered, "I don't think we're going to be able to just walk away from this. Can you fight right now?"
"But…they'll let you go."
Ryan looked at the kid. "So?" He smiled, "You want me to leave?"
Devin shook his head.
"Good, let's do this."
In a flash, Ryan hit one of the weaker kids with an upper hook. The punk went down like a tree. The speed of the encounter threw everyone else into a daze, but the shock wore off in a second, and then there was pandemonium.
As soon as there was a crack in the circle of students, Ryan grabbed Devin's wrist and dragged the kid towards the parking lot. They sprinted as fast as they could, hearing the punks shouting behind them, following in hot pursuit.
As they ran, Devin started laughing at the thrill, and Ryan joined in. They reached Ryan's car, and the senior quickly pulled out his keys. Once the door was open, he shoved Devin in through the driver's side, and then jumped in himself.
He slammed the door shut, and started the engine. Both breathed a sigh of relief as Ryan pulled out of the parking lot. Devin turned his head to speak to Ryan, only to be cut off as the older teenager put a cell-phone to his ear.
"Shelby? A bunch of Regers kids just attacked that punk from earlier….I think it was Tommy…..What the fuck do we do now?" He frowned, as Devin watched curiously. "How did he even know? Shelby, the fight was only an hour ago….yeah…ok, bye."
Ryan threw the phone on to the dashboard in anger, and bit his lip. His eyes were shifting back and forth as he thought.
"Where do you live?" he asked suddenly, causing Devin to jump.
As they reached Devin's apartment, Ryan looked over at the other teenager. "Jesus Christ, you're a mess."
"I'm fine," Devin muttered as he stumbled out of the car. Ryan sighed and got out of the car, walked around, and slung Devin's arm over his shoulder. "Come on."
Inside, the two boys awkwardly stumbled towards Devin's bed, where Ryan unceremoniously dumped the kid. Stretching out a kink, Ryan looked around.
It was a studio apartment, with only a bathroom separated off on the side. Everything else was visible, the cooking area, the bedroom area, the living room area.
"You live alone?"
Devin sighed. "My parents live abroad, they send me a check every month."
Ryan nodded. "Do you have a first-aide kit?"
With a wince, Devin shifted off his backpack, and pulled out the newly purchased kit. Ryan grabbed a towel from the kitchen, and wetted it. Sitting down next to Devin, he started to wipe away the blood on the kid's face.
"Why did you help me?"
Putting down the cloth, and picking up a band-aide, Ryan smiled ruefully. "Was I supposed to let them beat you to a pulp?"
"But we just fought an hour ago."
"Listen…those kids are from Regers. We're from King's High. If you had a fight with a family member, would you then let your neighbor beat them? No."
He wiped away more blood. "Plus, you were singled out because of me. I'm not going to stand for that."
"Who is Tommy Kagula?"
Before Ryan could answer, his phone rang. He frowned at the caller I.D.
"Yes? …Tommy, you fucktard." Devin noticed that Ryan's fist was clenched. The kid had seen Ryan more angry and emotional in the past half hour than he had throughout the entire half of the school year that he had been at King's High. Ryan was known for being calm, dangerously so.
"I didn't ask for your help… It's none of your business… Leave my kids alone Tommy."
He clicked the off button on the phone, and languidly shoved into his pocket. "That prick."
"Who is he?" Devin asked again.
Ryan looked up quickly, almost as if he had forgotten Devin was there. "He's the kid who sent his best fighters after you, that's all you need to know."
Devin nodded. Obviously Ryan was not going to tell him anything.
"Don't think I'm going to stop challenging you at school because you saved me."
The older teenager stared at him quietly for a moment. "Why do you want to beat me so badly? You want Top Spot?"
Devin nodded, "I want to change everything. I hate how you walk around like a fucking king, with everyone falling over themselves just to bow to you. It's demented."
He was getting excited now, and he leaned in closer to Ryan. "I'm going to beat you, and make you bow down to me."
Ryan smiled with amusement. "That's quite a dream."
He stood up with a sigh. "If you don't, I'll be disappointed in you Devin Meers."
He ruffled the kid's hair and strolled out of the apartment. Slowly counting all of the problems he was going to face in the coming weeks, he did not notice the person leaning against his car until he almost ran into him. Looking up, Ryan frowned.
Yes, yet another new story that I'm trying out (And it's about high school students no less…lol). First off, the title. Cheesy, I know, but I like that it's a palindrome.
Song inspiration: …well I'm not sure how it's supposed to spelled out, but on youtube it's called (Zero) Ling by Alan Ke You Lin or something. It's from the OST of the Taiwanese show Mars, which is based off of the manga.
Anyway (lol), please let me know any complaints you have about the story, If something is confusing or what not. Thanks for reading!