|He Was Once My Brother
Author: Esca Madeline PM
Thad wasn't sure why he was writing the letter to defend Dan. After all, they were no longer brothers.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Angst - Thad C. & Dan W. - Words: 3,252 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 6 - Published: 06-09-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5124440
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Bully is the property of Rockstar.
A/N: Thad Carlson and Dan Wilson. It's canon that they're brothers, but something always bothered me. If we're going to take the soundboard names as Thad and Dan's real last names, why is it that their surnames are different? They look very similar, so why this huge difference, assuming that they really DO have different last names?
This letter takes place years after the events of Bully, from Thad's point of view. Thad is writing in this story, not speaking, hence the lack of lisps for the majority of the chapter. (When he does speak, all "s" sounds are replaced with "th".)
Episode: He Was Once My Brother
My name is Thad Carlson. Well, you probably already know me from when you interviewed me about the newest weapons program I invented—but that's another topic for another day. No, I write this letter to you because I have a remark on one of your more recent sports articles. I do not wish to commend you for writing that article on Daniel Wilson's failure in that sports match. In all honesty, I wish for you to recant what you have written, take down that article, and prepare a full apology to Mr. Wilson in the front page of the next issue of your paper.
I do not wish to see his reputation tarnished over a fumbled ball. Don't get me wrong. I do not like or admire Dan Wilson in any way, make no mistake about that. In fact, I heartily dislike the man, and want no association with him whatsoever. But there is an unbreakable tie between us that I cannot break no matter how much I want to, and it is because of this unbreakable tie that I cannot allow such attacks on the man.
You see, Dan Wilson had once been my older brother.
You're probably raising a brow at the "once" part, aren't you? Well, it's true. Dan had "once" been my brother, but now he seems to view me as something of a humiliation. He absolutely refuses to acknowledge that I am his brother, and therefore, I refuse to acknowledge him in return.
I know you have that look on your face, Editor. It isn't my fault. This was a tit-for-tat arrangement, and he heartily agreed to it without a single regret.
But nevertheless…I guess he still is my brother, in a sense. We're still bounded by blood and genetics, after all, and no amount of beatings or threats can ever make that connection go away. We are, and will always be, brothers by blood.
No, let me correct myself. We are, and will always be, half-brothers by blood.
Yes, Editor, you read correctly. We are half-brothers. Same mother, different fathers. It's hard to tell just from looking at us, though. I mean, we look similar, for crying out loud. We both take after our mother, we walk in a near identical manner, and we're built similarly (although I'll probably never have the muscle tone that Dan has). If it wasn't for our differing last names, I doubt that even Dan's sports-addicted playmates would deny my family ties to him.
I don't blame my mother, though. It's not her fault Richard Wilson died in that traffic accident. It's not her fault she then fell in love and married Keith Carlson (my father, god rest his soul) and then had me. Men have the privilege of not changing their names upon marriage, but it's harder for women. It's especially hardest on the children, who have to automatically take their father's surname.
But you would know all about that, wouldn't you, Editor? I heard about your marriage and your new baby. Congratulations, by the way. I'll send over some teddy bears and comforters for the little sprout.
…looking back, I still can't believe it.
I still can't believe how much we had changed and drifted apart. Dan had once represented everything that I wanted to be. As far back as I can remember, Dan always used to protect me. He used to be my guide, my shield, and he always kept the big monsters away. Whether the monsters had been created from the shadows of my imagination, or were the biggest gang of bullies in school, it didn't matter to Dan. He protected me all the same, even to the point where I sometimes snuck into his bed and curled up in his arms after a terrible nightmare.
Dan never used to mind whenever I did that. In fact, I think he felt safer too.
But that was when he used to like being my older brother, you see.
You have to understand that Dan wasn't always the person he was today.
When he was younger, Dan used to be neat and conscientious. He was a hard worker, and after the two of us had been accepted into Bullworth Academy, he had instantly won the adoration and respect of all of the Nerds. He was also very responsible and serious to a fault, and in those days, all I wanted to do was be just like Dan.
Yes, Dan was very responsible.
Now that I think about it, he was a little too responsible.
In a lot of ways, he was rigid, as if he had voluntarily chosen to wear the whole world on his shoulders. Dan always possessed had that animalistic sense of justice, something he never really grew out of. He believed in a world where only the strong and the weak existed, where there were two ugly sides of a war that never really met.
It worried me a lot back then, but given that our little group of green was constantly being hounded by the Jocks, wasn't Dan entitled to feel that way? And please be aware, Editor, that before he left us, Dan was the only Nerd who would willingly fight the Jocks instead of cowering in a corner, waiting to be beaten.
No, Dan would grab yardsticks, bricks, beakers, textbooks…he would literally fight the overdeveloped athletes until he was beaten into unconsciousness. I…I remember dragging his unconscious, bloody body to the nurse's office many, many times.
I always wished I was stronger back then.
Of course, I was always worried for Dan's safety. But I convinced myself at the time that he would grow out of it. That he would stop fighting and just enjoy the time spent with the other members of our little group.
There wasn't much else I could do, really.
You should know that Dan is two years older than me. That not only meant that he was getting more academic workload, but it also mean that he had to deal with the older, tougher Jocks. As a result, I didn't realize until after Dan had entered the "high school" portion of Bullworth that my brother was changing.
It wasn't for the better, either.
He started getting into fights—worse than the scuffles he had gotten into in the earlier years, far worse. There had been days where he would come back to the dorm late, with his face bruised and his glasses smashed. And they were so expensive to replace, so hard to find the money over and over.
I complained. I complained to the Prefects, I complained to the teachers, but it made no difference. There were days when Dan would come home and tuck himself away in his bed without a single word, without even acknowledging my presence. He started to push away my attempts to comfort him, too. I don't know what he felt at the time and I'm in no position to even try to guess, but when he pushed me away…something broke inside me. I can't explain it…
And then, one night, Dan didn't return at all.
I never forgot that night. As soon as I realized Dan was late, I looked out of the window, twitching the curtain aside over and over, even though I knew I was overreacting. It's hard to describe the fear tightening around one's neck from despair and worry, but I felt this fear, and thoughts of the worst kind plagued my mind every second.
I tried not to worry. Dan had been late before, after all. This wasn't anything new.
My panic won out in the end, though.
As the clock ticked over the midnight mark, I remember completely giving in to all of my worst imaginings. I remember grabbing Earnest, Francois, Bucky—all of my friends, and I remember trying to convince them to go outside and help me look for Dan, my only brother, the only source of true comfort I had in that school.
I remember being completely shocked by the responses I got.
"He's probably out fighting Jocks again!" Francois—or Fatty, as he liked to be called—said nervously. "I'm not going out there! They'll pulverize my tender soul!"
"And it's past midnight, anyway!" Earnest declared pompously. "I told him not to go out and pick fights with them! It's none of my concern if he decides to go on a suicide mission against all common sense!"
"But—but—" I had pleaded, begged, groveled, but to no avail. None of the other Nerds were willing to help me find Dan.
I realized, in that instant, that I was well and truly alone.
I don't think I slept at all that night. I don't think I even made the effort. Every second stretched out to a minute, every minute stretched out to an hour, and throughout these agonizing moments I prepared myself for the worst.
Dan had either been killed, or someone had beaten him up and then LEFT him for dead. Those had been my two prevailing thoughts.
But when Dan stumbled through the door that Saturday morning, his clothes torn and bloodied, his entire body quivering as if he might snap, there was no question of yelling at him. I only leapt up and held him close, because at that point he had still been my brother, and I couldn't imagine being without him. But when I sat him down on his bed, I realized that Dan was rambling, a string of near-incoherent words pouring out of his mouth.
He was trying to tell me all about it. He was trying to tell me what had happened.
I only caught snatches of it, to tell you the truth. About how the school was a nightmare. About how there were unending parades of bullies seeking out the weak, and no one was even bothering to do anything about it.
It didn't stop there. Dan went on, his voice rising in volume as he ranted on about how he had to fix it, because nobody else in the Nerd clique would. He then went on to describe how the others refused to help him. How he had tried so hard to do what was right, to protect the Nerds so that his "friends" could be happy. How they had coldly turned on him and left him to be beaten up and brutalized for it. And finally, with his head tucked into his lap for shame, he told me about the day before, how the Jocks had tied him up to a tackling dummy in the football field and had pulverized his unprotected body again and again, while the crowd spat laughter.
But the real tears didn't spill over until he described how the boy he had tried to save had joined with the rest, presumably out of fear.
"They're all weak cowards," Dan had snarled. "They aren't our friends at all, Thad. They'll betray you the second you have your back turned. You wanna know what the funny thing is, though? You—you wanna know?" Dan had shaken his head, broken laughter escaping his lips. "The Jock who tied me to that tackling dummy…I think his name's Ted or something. He—he said that I would make a decent safety or cornerback…fucking asshole…heh…heh…" His laughter had become more and more frenzied, and his clenched fists shook more and more with rage until he let out a furious scream and drove his hand straight into the wall, not only producing a decent sized hole, but also a broken fist as he pulled his hand out of the whitewashed walls.
At that moment, I…I think I was crying. I…I just couldn't believe my brother, the way he was always prepared to step up and defend others. He shouldn't have to be the one doing this, though. Where are the teachers while all this is going on? What kind of world was this, to allow such cruelty to exist? To let a thirteen-year-old boy think he's the only one?
For the first time, I wanted to protect him. I wanted to be the one to save him. To make him realize he can't change the hell Bullworth had created for us. I tried to find the words to explain it to him, to make him see the importance of harmony, of fitting in and finding simple peace with our closest companions.
I tried to explain. Explain how he couldn't expect everything in this world to follow his ideals. That the world wasn't just made up of the strong and the weak, that there were plenty of grey areas in between. That there was no point in getting himself hurt like this.
I remember asking him to please, please…stop the madness…
It wasn't long before I regretted even opening my mouth. I could read Dan's face very well, and I soon saw that each word was a slap to him. Shaking with disbelief, he stared at me, as if I had somehow torn off my friendly face, my brother's face, and revealed a demon. As if I had forced him down on the bed and gutted him like a squid with a rusty knife.
And it was at that moment that something in his eyes changed, and his tears turned to ice. He didn't speak another word. If he had yelled at me, ranted and shouted and raged that I had betrayed him, I think it would have hurt less than the way he was staring at me. I would have at least understood his verbal anger, because wasn't it normal for brothers to sometimes fight each other?
But Dan would never do that, not to me. No, to me, when he truly gets mad, he becomes all remote, forced politeness, and merciless, cold eyes watching from behind glass. I felt my very blood turn to ice, because I knew. At that moment, I was worse than the bullies he told me about. It was as if he expected so much more from me, much more, and I had failed him.
He had made his decision, without even saying a word.
I no longer deserved to be his brother.
After that, Editor, Dan stopped speaking to me all together.
He requested a room change and he ended up sharing a dorm room with some of the Jocks. I think their names are Bo Jackson and Kirby Olsen. He stopped attending Astronomy Club meetings, stopped talking to all of the Nerds, stopped putting effort in his academic studies, and…and…
He tried out for the football team.
It's ironic, isn't it? That he would join the very same group that he had tried to fight so hard against in his earlier years? Well, it wasn't all that surprising to me. After all, Dan did have his insane "Strong versus Weak" philosophy to uphold, and who better to join that the strong, seemingly impenetrable Jocks?
And in retrospect, I can understand why Dan ultimately joined the Jocks. They were everything Dan idealized. They were strong. They were powerful. They were a unit. They don't tolerate one of their own getting abused by an outsider (and considering how much they defend even that mascot of theirs, this claim is well founded), and they watch each other's backs.
They were the strongest of the school, of the caste, of the social hierarchy. No one in their right mind would dare to challenge them, not without some serious reprocussions.
But honestly, between you and me, I think what really pushed Dan towards the Jocks was that fight he had with Ted, and the following "fight" he had with me. In that fight, I think Dan had somehow earned a bit of Ted's respect due to his undying resilience. The law of the wild, you know?
And my poor use of words only served to topple him over the edge.
I never hated him for his decision to leave us. Not once.
The other Nerds weren't as sympathetic, though. They all considered him a traitor for even trying out for a sports team, and soon, his name was all but forgotten in our little clique. Only Beatrice and I were the only ones who periodically talked about him, but eventually she too ceased to mention his name, especially after that Hopkins guy showed up…
I tried to fill in the void that he left. Using my yardsticks, I tried to fight off any offenders who dared to attack my friends (I wasn't very successful) and I always tried to make weapons that would make up for my lack of physical prowess (the Spud Cannon, version 3.8, still had some kinks to work out).
I also tried to maintain some sort of connection to Dan. I still tried to talk to him, despite the fact that he often pretended that I wasn't even in the same room with him. I even tried to become the school mascot so that we would HAVE to spend some time together, but that plan failed when Constantinos Brakus got the position instead of me.
Eventually, I soon stopped trying. We stopped acknowledging each other for the rest of our school days, and we stopped going home together during the holidays.
He had once been my brother. But by then, it was clear that he no longer was…
Thad scowled, lowering his pen as he stared at the letter in front of him. He read its contents over and over and over again, before he shook his head and crumpled the paper in his hands.
"No," he muttered, tossing the destroyed letter in a nearby trashcan. "Thi-th letter i-th becoming way too per-th-onal. I can't write like thi-th…"
Sighing, he pulled out another sheet of paper and picked up his pen again.
"Dear Editor," he said quietly, "my name is Thad Carl-th-on…"
A/N: The format was supposed to start off professional, but as you can see, Thad becomes more and more emotionally invested in the letter until he realizes that it's too much and he starts over. Because no editor wants a freaking autobiography on a letter, right? But yeah.
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