A/N. Hello! So this is a rather impulsive and impromptu story that I only plan on being a few, but longer, chapters. I pretty much grew up watching this show and LOVED it. All these years later, I had almost completely forgotten about it until I had a random thought about Recess, which then led to me going over some of my old and embarrassing fanfictions I wrote about it over ten years ago, binge watching the series and falling in love with it all over again, and now here I am. Being the melodramatic person I am though, of course I am going to take a delightful children's show and turn it pretty dark and grim. I guess you could look at this as a sort of coming-of-age story under tragic circumstances and is loosely inspired by some events that took place when I was about the age of the characters. Also, because there isn't too much info on the main character of this story, I took a lot of liberty with his last name and family and whatnot. There is a major accident in the fic, so be prepared for a detailed description of that as well. As always, hope any readers enjoy, and throw me a review if you'd like! Cheers. - Rummybones
It was another typical day at Third Street Elementary School before the ring of the first bell. Kids were walking in from their neighborhoods, buses rumbled in and out, and everyone tried to stay outside on the lawn as long as possible before the bell signaled their sentences inside. The past two school days the week before had been overcast and gloomy, threatening to downpour on their valuable recess time, so the sun in the unclouded sky brought a bit of cheer and optimism to the young students. They were chatting and already anticipating what the game plan at recess would be that day.
Amongst them was TJ Dettweiler, who could call himself the unspoken leader of his almost notorious and lovable group of six friends in the fourth grade. Today they all sat in a circle facing in, all too serious expressions on their face as they held their precious game boys. They were hunched over them and trying to keep what they held a secret, knowing that Randall could be on the lookout for any games to be confiscated.
Alright boys and girls, the time is now." TJ said seriously. "I've got the goods."
He reached into his pocket and slowly withdrew what he found. It was a little black cord, and everyone 'ahhed' with amazement. "The coveted and rare game link game boy cord! The likes which have not been seen in our town in months!" MIkey gasped.
"So, who did you have to suck up to to get that?" Spinelli asked while snatching it for examination as if it could be a fake.
"Well," TJ shrugged, "Since all the high schoolers bought them all, I just had to do the paper route for my sisters boyfriend. Not that big of a deal, just waking up at five AM every morning for two weeks and slinging papers at a hundred houses…"
"Well cool! Now we can finally trade and battle our Pokemon!" Gus exclaimed and powered up his Game Boy. "I've got a Kangaskhan, looking for an Alakazam!"
As everyone blurted out how it was an unfair trade, Gretchen put hers away in her bag and instead pulled out a mathematics book. "I am fine with what I have. Although the idea of forcing small animals to fight each other until the point of unconsciousness is a rather carnal idea of a game, I already found a way around their leveling algorithms. I have a full team of six at level one hundred. So… your demise will be quick and easy."
"But that's not the point of the game," Vince retorted, which didn't get much a response. "Me against TJ first!"
"No way," Spinelli said and started plugging the cord in, "I've got a bone to pick with Mikey, fire against grass all the way!"
"But then it was immediately snatched out of her hands by Vince. "I called dibs last week!"
"Guys, guys!" TJ yelled as he watched the cord roughly be grabbed and handled, "Easy on the merch!"
But the final person who snatched the Game Link cord was none other than Ms. Finster, who had somehow managed to arrive and tower over their group in seconds. She smirked with the cord in her hand, and immediately put it in her pocket. "No electronic games, kiddos! These will fit nicely in the confiscated items drawer. Randall, help a girl out."
With defeated moans, they had no choice but to hand over the game boys, with Randall right behind the teacher and snickering to himself. TJ heard Ms. Finster mumble something along the lines of technology and kids these days before announcing that they could retrieve their games from the Principal after school.
Gus groaned, just as the bell rang, and stood up to dust dirt from his pants. "Oh man, my dad just got me that as a present last week. I hope they don't tell."
"I hope those sadistic teachers don't erase my game," Spinelli growled and they all began getting their things together to go to class.
Gretchen managed a little smile. "But I still have mine!"
That prompted the others to immediately ask if they could borrow it for recess, because this Pokemon craze was getting a little out of control for everybody in the elementary school, and headed down the hallway to their fourth grade classroom with Mrs. Grotke.
The six entered into the room already full with chattering students, who were sharing what they had done over the weekend, TJ and his friends still teasing Gretchen. No one seemed to notice Ms. Grotke at first, who stood behind her desk with a rather pale expression and nervous hands. No one seemed to pay any mind, even a couple paper airplanes whizzing close to her but there was no reaction for now. It wasn't until the second bell rang that students finally calmed down, and TJ turned around in his desk to look towards the black board. Ms. Grotke timidly cleared her throat, and said in a very unconvincing way, "Good morning, students. I hope that you have had a great weekend!"
There was something off with the way her voice and clasped hands trembled, and any sense of a fun atmosphere quickly left the room.
"Well, students," she began, "today is going to be a very different day for us. I am sorry to give you this news so soon in your day, but after talking with other teachers, we decided that it would be best to let the students know and be involved."
TJ managed to look out of the corner of his eye at Spinelli, who looked just as confused and apprehensive. Mrs. Grotke took in another deep breath and said with a slightly shaking voice, "Events like these are hard, and I'm not sure what conversations you have had with your parents in situations such as these, but the faculty, and parents who knew those involved, think that it is best to let you all be a part of this process… on Friday afternoon following classes, one of our students at Third Street was involved in an automobile accident."
TJ blinked at first. Like a car accident? He didn't understand what was happening, and all of the fourth graders shared shocked glances but no one spoke. He then realized that their teacher was trying to blink back tears. "He was a student of mine once, and an upperclassmen to you now but I know he's known around the playground by everyone. Robert Porter."
""Oh my gosh is he, like, okay?" An Ashley blurted out.
But TJ didn't know the name.
Another kid piped up, "Robert Porter?"
"Oh, right," Ms. Grotke said and cleared her throat, "Bob? I think you all call him King Bob?"
There was just stunned silence. TJ could only look forward and felt his stomach do a weird flip. King Bob. In a car accident. His first thought was - but things like that don't happen to kids. Another flip, and then he realized what his teacher was saying. Did someone he know… die? His mind instantly raced to every interaction that he had with this kid and he couldn't believe this. It had to be some bad joke.
""Yes, Ashley A., he is fine. I believe so, for now," Mrs. Grotke replied almost uncertainly. "However, what this young boy is going to go through is something I believe we should all help with. In the car accident, his parents were there. And, they… didn't make it.
At that point the tears in her eyes welled up and she choked quietly, "and they were good people."It was just stunned silence. It was supposed to be just another day at school, right? What was happening?
But their teacher raised a hand and wiped her tears away, as if suddenly remembering it was not the place for this display, and she cleared her throat shakily again. "So, today will be a day for discussions, and no lessons. I have supplies so that we can make get well cards and anything else you would like to send to your peer while he is hospitalized. Today is for solidarity and learning to come together in tragedies such as this."
As if trying to busy herself, she immediately went to her desk and started awkwardly fumbling with the craft supplies for the cards that they were going to make. Still the room was so unlike they had ever seen it - no whispers, no pencils clicking, or even the sound of chewing gum. Then TJ realized that Mikey was holding his hand up. It took a moment for the teacher to notice as she busied herself.
"Is he going to be okay? When can he come back to school?"
Mrs. Grotke blinked a few times. "Well, he needed to be airlifted, sweetie. He may not come back this school year. We can't know for sure."
""What does that mean?" Mikey stammered. He had big wet tears in his eyes.
"The teacher seemed to have an internal debate, as if whether she could share what she knew. "Well, Mikey. When someone gets hurt badly, sometimes the local doctors don't have the resources to help. So a helicopter will come and take the patient to a different place where they can be taken care of better."
"Gretchen made a weird sound as if she understood something more than the other kids. Phil, the red haired kid who sat behind TJ then raised his hand. "But where could something that bad happen in town? It's like 25 miles an hour everywhere!"
""The accident took place a little outside of town," Ms. Grotke replied, then added, "I would rather not… disclose too many details of the actual accident though. Would anyone else like to ask any questions? Or is there anyone else who feels as though they can contribute something to this conversation?"
"The rest of the morning was spent working on the cards they were making each other. As she had promised, Ms. Grotke promised a very informal day and let everyone do as they please and push their desks together to make little groups. But considering the circumstances, not having lessons didn't make it a fun day. TJ stared down at his card, markers surrounding him and suddenly felt very sad. He had no idea what to write. Aside from the playground interactions with Bob being emKing/em Bob, he had almost no idea who this person was, and he felt very guilty.
"Vince seemed to see his internal debate and suggested softly, "I think all that matters is that he gets one. Don't over think it."
"The classroom discussions were also very sobering and it was like some kind of taboo subject no one had ever thought to consider hung in the air. However, there was something about it that Mrs. Grotke had right, whether or not the kids knew it - there was some sense of solidarity. Ashley A., of all people, had volunteered to talk about the death of her grandfather that had just happened over the summer before fourth grade. How it made her feel, and how she was getting over it. She wasn't talking in her normal snotty tones, she seemed genuine and TJ found himself regretting some of the pranks he played on her earlier within the year. Mrs. Grotke visited every group and was comforting and honest and it did help a bit. She encouraged people to send their positive vibes in the direction of their injured student or consult 'any higher power that you follow'. But in the end, they were all just kids who were helpless and didn't know much of what to do.
"Eventually the bell rang for first recess, and it was only the grades below fourth who ran out. As they walked blinking into the bright sun outside, Gretchen commented, "I guess they're just telling the grades that are fourth and up."
""I don't blame 'em," Vince muttered and they walked to the edge of the black top. "Suddenly kick ball doesn't sound so fun."
""Yeah," Gus said and sank into the grass. "I just want to go home and hang out with my parents now."
"Spinelli looked over and saw the kids who were normally the King's 'guards' and 'advisors' awkwardly standing at the jungle gym talking quietly, and the empty throne at the top. "Poor guy. I hope he doesn't have to fall behind a grade."
""I don't know," Gretchen replied quietly, "It could be bad. The most common injury found in car crashes are back and neck injuries, and if he had to be airlifted, we can be talking about paralysis…"
"It was when she realized that they were giving her slightly horrified looks, she gulped and realized, "But it's all very different when you're reading about it in a text book. I'm sorry guys. Sorry Mikey."
"Mikey still had big tears in his eyes and was looking a little pale. TJ just didn't know what to say and played with the grass in his hands. He, too, just suddenly want to be with his parents. As if reading the thoughts of the students, they heard the intercom suddenly click on, and the voice of their principal, Mr. Prickley come on. Their principal sounded uncannily soft spoken today: "Good morning, students at Third Street Elementary. The faculty has come to the decision to allow for a half day to those who wish to leave early. Students may enter the office and call their parents to be driven home. Students who use the bus may leave with the consent of your parent. Those who wish to stay or do not have the means to leave early shall follow the normal class schedule and return to class at the end of recess. Everyone… take care."
"The intercom clicked off and the six friends looked at each other and they all seemed to have the same thing in mind. They ran up and joined the large amounts of solemn looking students who were walking towards the office.
TJ had managed to catch a ride home with his mother who wasn't working, and found that he wasn't talkative. He had spent much of the day in his room, trying to read comics but not really concentrating, then realized just he needed to move around a little bit.
"On his way out, he saw his mom getting things ready for dinner, and she eyed him as he walked into the kitchen. "Everything okay, Teej? You're looking a little out of it today, which is the opposite of what I'd expect from a half day!"
""Yeah Mom, I'm fine," he mumbled, "can I go on a bike ride before dinner?"
""I suppose," she answered, bending down to get a pan out of the oven. "But dinner's at six! Don't be late!"
"Without another word he hopped out of the sliding door and found his bike, almost immediately taking off. He didn't have any particular destination in mind. Just sitting in that stagnant room of his with nothing happening was beginning to get to his head. He pedaled through at least ten blocks non stop and realized when he could barely breath, just how fast he was going and just how many stop signs he sped through. That last thought made him shudder, so he eased up and cruised through the neighborhood. He passed by his elementary school and looked on how empty and odd the playground looked at night.
"TJ sighed. He stood by the chainlink fence for some time, trying to decide what was going on in his head. When a street light flicked on he knew that it was getting close to six and turned his bike around to pedal home. He passed by all of the houses he knew by heart in his neighborhood, having lived there since kindergarten, and finally made his way to the porch of his house.
"He could hear his family talking in the dining room and made his way in, suddenly realising just how hungry he was, and the smell of his Mom's shephards pie was pretty tantalizing. He walked in and his sister, Becky, was also home, setting out plates at the table. "Hey, little bro."
"TJ raised an eyebrow at the fact he wasn't called 'little monkey' or worse, and responded, "Well… hi?"
""Right on time!" his mom announced when she walked in carrying a giant cooking dish in her covered hands. "Okay, we're ready to eat! Becky, get your father, he can watch golf any other time than this."
"They all sat down and being so informal, immediately started digging in. Becky started talking about the employee drama down at where she worked, and normally TJ would be finding ways to crack up at her high school friends, but his head was a little fuzzy as of that day. They asked her how school was, and before it got turn to ask their son, TJ decided to bring up what was on his mind.
""Hey, uh… Mom, Dad? Do you all wanna, like, do something this weekend? Like, as a family?"
"He could hear the clink of their silverware fall and winced at himself. He could've been a little more smooth. "TJ Dettweiler, my brother," Becky began, "actually thinks that he's not too cool to hang out with his old mom and pop?"
""Becky!" their mother snapped, though it was clear she wasn't truly offended.
""Well, never mind then! If that's how you're going to be!"
"Of course we can!" their father chimed in while taking an overly huge bite of food. "What'd you have in mind?"
"Oh, whatever you want," TJ offered. "Maybe something out of town, this place does get just a liiittle old sometimes."
"Oh my God!" Beck suddenly said, as if that comment made her remember and making everyone jump. "You know what we got told in school today? Do you guys remember that Sheila Porter who used to go to school with me? She was like, the older girl who ran the yearbook club? Her parents got in an accident over the weekend.
TJ felt his stomach sink a bit. He felt himself suddenly wishing that they could talk about anything else. But it was such a small town. And then he felt guilty, here he was at a dinner table with his family thinking that while King Bob was… in whatever condition he was in. TJ heard his mom gasp, and his dad almost choked on his food. "Oh, my goodness. The Porters, are they okay?"
Becky gaped. "Oh. You… knew them? No, they're not. At all."
TJ moved his eyes from the table to see that his mother looked like she had been hit with something hard in the face, and his dad was focusing way too hard on the table cloth before him. "Well, we've talked to them. At PTA's, the grocery store… we weren't too very close, but… oh my goodness. That's awful. What about the kids?"
Becky shifted uncomfortably. She didn't realize that they had actually known and talked to the parents of her friend. "Well, Sheila wasn't with them, she just got her own place and is doing the community college thing. But her little brother from the sixth grade was with them and had to be airlifted. Teddy from second period said he drove past the wreck when they were clearing it and the car was like… a crumpled up tin can."
There was a moment of silence. "You said sixth grade? Do you know this person, Theodore?"
TJ looked down at his plate, suddenly not hungry. "Yeah. Everyone does."
"Oh, honey," his mom suddenly cried and ran around the table to hold him, "that's why you had a half day isn't it, and you've been acting strange? And is that why you wanted to spend time with us this weekend?"
"Not even prepared or knowing that it was going to happen, TJ suddenly burst into tears. It almost surprised him just as much as it shocked his older sister who froze, and his dad immediately circled the table and bear hugged his son as well, almost painfully. TJ then felt his older sister hugging too and it didn't help him stop and he just made an even uglier sound while he choked out, "I don't know why I'm crying... this… whomps..."
"It's okay, dear…" his mom comforted him. "We're not going anywhere, I promise."
"Yeah, you can't get rid of me either," his sister tried to laugh while hiding the sound of tears in her voice, too.
TJ finally settled down and wasn't able to look up, unable to tell if he was completely humiliated. He hadn't cried in front of his family in a couple years… but he did feel a little better. "I'm okay, now. You can eat. Don't worry."
They uncertainly let him go and slowly got back to their seats, his mom saying nice comforting things the whole time. That's when TJ told them about the day at school, and how he had never seen Ms. Grotke so upset, and the comment she made about KIng Bob's parents being good people. And that he had always kind of thought of King Bob being a bit of his friend. And that last part just made him feel a little worse. How you can you spend a little part of everyday with someone at recess but still not know what to write on a get well card for them?
They finished up their dinner and for the very first time in a long time all helped clear the dishes and clean and be an actual involved family. After watching a funny movie on TV together, TJ finally wandered up to his room and immediately threw himself on the bed.
He only had a few thoughts before going straight to sleep, and he just hoped his friend was okay.
A/N. I hope that wasn't too painful. Chapter two coming out soon!