Detective Brody II

4 – Class Warfare –

"Delatour!" Rebecca DeRuyter called from halfway across the cafeteria.

Brody wondered if his cousin Alderley was here and the tall, confident senior was calling to her, but Alderley was in college a hundred miles away. He looked at Sal and Natalie, who both shrugged. Sal did it in a way that suggested he was scared of what was to come, but Natalie was clearly excited at the prospect of getting in with the Student Body President.

The three of them walked over to the Triad of tables; the very centre of the George Gentry cafeteria in the Town Hall building. It was the oldest of all of George Gentry High School's four main buildings, which seemed to validate the Triad's mythical status.

At each table sat the school's finest; at one sat the student council and other important committee chairs. At another sat the rugby and baseball teams. The final table housed the school's most popular students.

That was the vantage point from which Rylan and Paris were staring wide-eyed at Brody as he made his way over to where August cleared some room beside him and Rebecca. A girl with curly hair that Brody had never seen before huffed before shuffling and offering him room.

It was immediately evident that this was a meeting meant for just Brody. Sal seemed relieved and had peeled off before they'd even gotten close to the Triad, but Natalie walked with him until they were right beside the table.

"Hey Rebecca," she said casually.

"Hi, Natalie," Rebecca said dismissively, her eyes still on Brody. "Thanks for all the help with the file cabinets, you're a real lifesaver."

The Happy Helpers, which Brody was a proud member of, helped out with anybody who needed a hand (or ten) at any time. The week before, the student council had called them to help move some archived student documentation from what Brody guessed was the beginning of time from the Sciences building into the deeper basement levels of the library in Wicker Hall. He'd almost broken his back doing all the heavy lifting.

"You've been quite coy with this one," Rebecca said, referring to Brody. "Hiding such an asset away, it's not a move I'd expect from a club with a name as innocent as 'Happy Helpers'."

"I-I wasn't trying to hide him or anything," Natalie blumbered, suddenly flustered. Brody had never seen her like this, but he wasn't too surprised. Natalie always wore her emotions on her sleeve.

"Yes, thanks again," August interjected in the cordial way that Brody was noticing seemed to be a trademark. "There are some serious issues we want to discuss about now. With Brody."

It wasn't very subtle, or kind, but they were in foreign territory now. The student council was the most powerful organization on campus. They were at the heart of most of the school's most important decisions when it came to extracurriculars. That included how much funding most clubs or sports team received, if any at all. If you weren't lucky enough to be a rugby or baseball player, it was very reckless to disobey them.

As a rugby player, Brody had seen the student council as an affable court. Rugby and baseball were the two biggest sports at George Gentry, and their rugby exploits put them on the map all over Virginia. In fact, the rugby team's funding was secured as part of a larger grant by corporate donors, which was why the large overhead windows in ads for sports drinks. The windows bathed the Triad of tables in an ethereal glow that only seemed to cement their status.

All the rugby team-members were basically untouchable.

Now Brody was nothing more than an average kid in a club that barely qualified as C-list, so he was more than out of his depth. All he could do was smile at Natalie in solidarity before she walked away.

"Brody Delatour, where have you been hiding since your little sports exile?" Rebecca said. She spoke affably, as if she couldn't effectively suspend him by calling a student court at any time. Though the threat was always present in her words. Brody bet it was just second-nature to her by now.

"I know where," August said. "Saving the school from the Tsui's lawsuit and a CDC nightmare."

"Is this about Rylan Allbright's Charity Association event?" the girl with the curly hair asked.

"He solved the case, Madison," August explained, examining Brody as if looking for a modicum of intelligence under his blond locks and artificially tan skin. "At least, that's what I heard."

"It was just a mistake with one of the ingredients, eventually somebody would have figured it out," Brody said, skirting around details as Principal Trilby had instructed.

"Nobody did for three weeks," August observed.

"That's exactly the sort of eye I'd like on the student council," Rebecca added.

"Excuse me?" Brody said, realizing she did think he was running. "I'm not running for anything."

"That's a shame," Rebecca said, her eyes clouding over in disappointment. "Out of all of you rich know-it-alls, my best bet on this school's future was you."

"Know-it-alls? Me?" Brody echoed. He searched through his memories and confirmed that this was the first time anybody had ever called him a 'know-it-all'. He was only barely getting B's in most of his classes, and that was only because of all the studying he'd been doing lately.

"Don't play dumb, kid," August said. "Rugby heavyweight quits the sport, puts in the good work on the civil side of school affairs, it's a standard political pitch. You're not the first to think of it."

"Even if you don't aim for president, you could be going for my job," Madison added. "There are three seats open this year."

"I'm serious, guys, I didn't even know how many seats were free," Brody said, trying to convey as much honestly as he good as he got up to leave. "I didn't even vote last year. I'm sorry to have wasted your time."

Rebecca put a hand up to stop him.

"Even if you don't run, I know you're smarter than you let on," she said. "I need your help."

"My help?" Brody wondered.

"We saw you take on Rylan Allbright last night, going toe to toe with both her and that sly friend of hers; the one who could sell ice to folks in Greenland," August explained. Judging by his expression, he still didn't buy that Brody wasn't running for office. "Whatever you decide to do, there are bigger things at stake here."

Rebecca cleared her voice and began to explain.

George Gentry's student council was a permanent seat council, which meant that a position could only be vacated via graduation, stepping down, or removal after a major faux-pas. Any student was free to go for any position, but freshmen were usually left out of any serious runs because they didn't have a grasp on the school's social and political structure yet.

"I'm the exception, of course," August said gladly. "Treasurer for two years straight."

"Not every junior eats Math for breakfast, Wainwright," Madison shushed.

That left the running open to sophomores and juniors. The juniors had the better bet of winning since they had more time to build up their reputations.

"This year, that's all been thrown into disarray," Rebecca said, chancing a look over at Rylan. "Ever since the influx of wealthier kids began, the student council has discussed this day."

George Gentry High School was the number one public high school in the state if they stripped out charters and technical institutes, and it had become trendy to send wealthier kids to private school to give them a sense of 'authenticity'.

Usually it was for future college applications, but Brody's mother had insisted he come here so he could be the typical all-American boy.

Which, to be fair, he had managed for at least one year before falling in love with Alan and then quitting the rugby team.

"Brody?" August asked. "You okay? You went away for a second."

"I was just thinking about what Rebecca was saying," he said diplomatically. It was somewhat true, after all. "So you think that Rylan and Gina will outshine any other candidates because Rylan's an Allbright and Gina is the head of Fox Hall's junior court?"

"The way you said that tells me you already knew," August insisted, Brody shook his head. August let out an annoyed guttural noise, but Rebecca continued despite him.

"Even if it's not by sheer charisma, which Rylan has a disturbing amount of even before she's combined with that Renaldi girl," Rebecca began. "They have resources that other students don't.

"We only just proposed election spending regulations last month when we heard the rumours about Gina," August explained. "And we can't use them for this election cycle."

"Because Rylan will say you're doing it just to stop her," Brody finished.

"Exactly," Rebecca said.

"But why do you want to stop Gina?" Brody wondered. "She just moved here from New York. I heard she did intern work in Washington over the summer, and she seems pretty nice."

"That's well and fine, Brody," Rebecca said, pursing her lips. "But you're missing something pretty big."

"Even though kids from wealthier income brackets keep coming to George Gentry, they're less than five percent of it's overall population," August explained. "Basically, there aren't that many of you."

"But a lot of you are rising, fast," Rebecca said.

"Of the three students who made varsity football as sophomores, you and Tate are both from wealthier families. Logan Cooke practically stole the Cooking Association from under Rise Laban, back when it was called the Home Economics club. Rylan Allbright and Vanessa Carlile have already monopolized every important planning committee we've had this year."

"Is that so bad?" Brody wondered. "They're just ambitious, right?"

"They're ambitious and they've got bank," August clarified. "No matter how skilled or clever the rest of us are, how can we compete with that?"

"Personally, I don't think anybody who lives in a mansion can understand what my problems are, even if they wanted to," Madison insisted.

"That'll definitely affect how they allocate budgets," August added. "Don't forget, I have to work with whoever wins for another year."

"I don't think this is fair," Brody said, shifting awkwardly. "Rylan's ideas are real out there, I'll give you that, but the rest of us have worked as hard as you have to get where we are."

"When Tate and I first joined the rugby team, everybody thought we were just softies. We worked hard to overcome that, but then they started beating on us just to prove themselves right. It took a long time to earn their respect."

"But did you ever have to skip practices to work a part-time job?" Rebecca asked. "Did you ever have to worry about making varsity early so schools would be more likely to take you on scholarship? Did you ever have to worry about how you'd get a pair of cleats as good as Brody Delatour's?"

Brody opened his mouth to respond, but he couldn't think of anything to say. They were right; he was afforded a lot of opportunities because of his family, but there had never been a day that he wasn't grateful for that. In addition, those certainly weren't his worries, but he had his own issues that would come to mind and distract him when he was out on the field.

But he stayed silent, because he could tell that the student council had already made up it's mind about them. Just like Principal Trilby had a few weeks ago, and it had made him so paranoid that he ended up threatening the wealthier kids and making errors in judgement based on how he saw them.

He had a feeling that if something didn't change, this was a darkness that would grow inside George Gentry and eat it alive. The school that had taken him in and given him so much opportunity. The school where he'd found some of his best friends.

Being on the rugby team, he could just avoid George Gentry's obvious realities, but ever since he had left he could see that the melting pot was just itching to boil over. Even worse, that forces like Rebecca and Rylan were going to keep stirring it just so that they got what they wanted.

"You've given me a lot to think about," Brody said, getting up so quickly he forgot to take his tray with him. "But I don't think I'll be able to help you."

"It's the truth, Brody," Rebecca insisted, August put a hand on her upper arm, but she went on. "And if you don't help us, terrible things will happen."

Brody had a feeling that they would happen either way.