Love Returned

Za had not always been fascinated by life. In fact, he found it rather droll and mundane. Human beings- in fact, all creatures- seem to spend incredible amounts of time doing repetitive and quite honestly uninteresting tasks. However, he found that love drove mankind to do ridiculously entertaining and often foolish activities. Thus, lovers became his ideal source of amusement.

Once, while minding his own business in the shadows of an abandoned workhouse of some sort, he spied a young girl by the name of Abigail (he assumed this was her name; it was the name on the lunch box beside her) and took it upon himself to write about her. This girl could most accurately be described as solid. Big, brawny arms were busting out of the short sleeves of a yellow dress and sturdily connected to a large but completely unflattering chest. Her thick legs were dangling off of the second level platform, and she was hunched over so greatly that Za was sure that she intended to jump.

Yet, as he moved closer, he realized that she was actually doing something far more interesting. She was spying on a young man on the first level platform. The young man, as Za observed, was completely unaware and entirely consumed with the task of reading some sort of text book. He was at best mousy- but even that description was an overstatement. His twig-like arms seemed hardly capable of holding even his textbook. But his demeanor practically radiated kindness and an earnest sort of humbleness that gave him the aura of someone much greater than himself.

It didn't take a genius to assess this situation; this young girl was clearly smitten. Perhaps the two did not seem like the ideal couple, but Za had seen stranger love connections in his time. He almost smiled- such innocent things always caught him off guard- but an odd tension and fear emanating from the girl was puzzling him. He moved away from her hesitantly. Sometimes people had a heightened awareness of his presence. Was it him who frightened her?

His question was answered when another young man, this one also exceptionally scrawny but not as much as the book worm, entered the workhouse. He seemed fidgety and sneaky, taking long strides towards the reading boy and tugging at his jacket zipper.

"Alex," The fidgety one called, startling Alex out his concentration. Abigail visibly tensed and moved her legs from visibility. She clenched her meaty hands into fists. So it was him that made her nervous. Za was relieved and intrigued.

"Alex, Gregg wants to talk to you. Says you owe him some kind of homework assignment."

"I don't owe him anything," Alex said quietly, rising to his feet.

"Don't be stupid. Give him the freaking assignment and maybe he won't bash your face in."

Alex seemed to deflate. His eyes took a rather solemn interest in the cement floor.

"Trevor, you're supposed to be my friend. You know Gregg pretty well. I was thinking that maybe you could just talk to him-"

"Talk to him and tell him what, Alex? You want me to just walk up to him and say, 'oh, hey Gregg, I know you're a huge, intimidating psychopath who doesn't seem to care about anyone, but I was thinking you could maybe lay off my friend Alex'. Is that what you want me to do? And make it so both of us have to suffer?"

"I don't want you to suffer, Trevor. I care about your safety. I just think that Gregg might trust you. He would probably listen to you if you told him something. I'm just asking you to try," Alex said.

"And I'm telling you that I'm not saying anything to Gregg," Trevor countered, turning away from Alex.

Alex didn't bother replying. He bent over quickly, almost flinging the glasses off his face, and threw his books into a backpack. As he rose again, he didn't take even the slightest interest in Trevor. Instead, he walked efficiently out of the workhouse as if Trevor had never been there, then turned at the last minute and gave Trevor a pained kind of half-smile.

"See you, man," Alex whispered. And then he was gone.

Trevor looked confused for a brief moment, but then turned (to Za's ever-loving amusement) towards the second platform.

"I know you're up there," He called.

"You're a coward," Abigail answered, not moving from her spot.

"As if you had room to talk, you ugly cow. Alex is never going to notice you so stop creeping on him and crawl back into the swamp marsh you came from," Trevor spat menacingly. "If I see you creeping on him again I'll… I'll..."

"You'll sic Gregg on me because you're too much of a coward to do anything yourself? Bring it on," She challenged, but her voice was trembling.

Trevor muttered something under his breath and stormed out of the entrance to the workhouse.

As Za was casually documenting the abnormal kindness exhibited by a workhouse rat the next day he became distracted by a distant clanging sound coming from the back of the workhouse. Curious, he moved to the site of clamor and was intrigued to find Trevor sitting awkwardly in a dusty corner with a metal pipe in his hands. Trevor was holding the pipe in one hand and using it to tap impatiently on the base of some man-made contraption (which explained the repetitive noise), and in the other hand he was nervously tugging at his tie.

The boy was strangely overdressed to be lingering around in some dingy corner, but he was otherwise no threat to Za, so the spirit saw no reason to hang about. It was then, however, that Abigail entered. Trevor rose immediately to his feet, startling the poor girl.

"Trevor! What are you- ? Why are you- ?"

"Shut up and let me talk," Trevor said, wiping a sweaty palm on his slacks.

Abigail was mystified but silent, watching the pipe in his hands with a growing look of unease.

"Why Alex," Trevor asked.

"What? Trevor, what you doing here with that pipe-"

"I said, why Alex? Why not someone who can actually protect you from bullies?"

Abigail stood there silently. A confused look clouded her face and she slowly shook her head. But then, it hit her. It hit her so strongly that Za almost forgot his place and reached for her as if to catch her if she fainted. Trevor liked her. Liked her.

"Trevor," she said quietly, stunned, "you're a coward. You've always been a coward. I could never like someone like you."

That was when a hefty, hairy looking boy materialized in the doorway holding a limp mess of flesh in his arms. Ah, no, Za had been mistaken. That limp mess of flesh was actually Alex. His face was almost unrecognizable beneath bruises and blood.

"Abigail, get out of here," Alex said wetly, spiting blood on the ground.

"What have done to him?!" Abigail was practically screeching. She ran towards the boy holding Alex in a hysterical manor, anguish clouding her judgment. He waited calmly, undaunted by her fury, dropping Alex to the floor as if he were a sack of potatoes and not a human being. When Abigail was within arm's reach, he pulled a solid fist behind him and delivered a swift blow to the side of her head.

She fell backwards onto the cement and grasped her head, moaning and beginning to cry softly.

"Trevor, bring me that pipe," the boy said, holding his hand out.

"Gregg! No, you don't have to do all that. I just wanted you to teach them a lesson. I think they get the point," Trevor said, moving towards Gregg none the less.

"That's what I'm doing. I'm teaching them a lesson. Alex is gonna learn his place and Abigail is gonna to realize that she needs us. That she needs you. Are you saying you want me to stop?"

Trevor looked at Abigail as she began to rise from her fetal position on the ground. She looked at Trevor with so much hatred that Trevor physically flinched. Abigail crawled over to Alex, now unconscious, and held him close to her. The tears still rolled freely down her round face, but even past that anyone could see by the softness of her touch and the tender warmth of her embrace that she had nothing other than the purest love for Alex. Trevor steeled his body and handed Gregg the pipe.

"No. Don't stop."