The big game had been midweek and now the weekend was here, most of the details of that event had been forgotten though there was still a lot of excitement in the air as the students all looked forward to the following week, when the county final would be played, they actually dared hope their school would hold the trophy for the following season. That hope charged the atmosphere everyday since with a constant feeling of expectancy and elation and no one wanted it to go.

Sheila loved the feeling and relished in the excitement others were feeling. She didn't know a lot about the game but she knew what it meant to those around her. Her kid brother for one was inspired by the Football teams victory and was training even harder at his game of choice, Baseball.

Every practice she would be at the sports field, watching and cheering him on. She knew her presence probably humiliated the lad and on more than one occasion she had witnessed a fight break out between him and another boy. When she had asked Bobby about it, he refused to explain the details leading up to the scuffle. So, and this was very hard for her to do, she waited out of sight from that point on. She had found a little secluded place she could sit and do a little reading or homework until Bobby emerged from training.

She stood upon seeing Bobby exit the school grounds, gathering up her books and her bag in one fluid motion as she smiled at the younger lad. He in turn rolled his eyes, as usual.

"You know I'm more than capable of walking home myself, don't you?" He state. Sheila watched as he walked right by her head down in the hopes to hide the anger in his eyes. Taking a little breath in she caught him up and put her arm around him and he didn't pull away.

They both missed Mom.

They both missed their rides home with her.

Sheila was doing her best to fill those shoes, but something's would never ever be the same and some holes where never ever going to be filled.

Once out of sight of any possible friends and Baseball rivals, Bobbie put his arm around her waist and together they walked towards their home.

"I have a surprise for you." She said softly with a loving smile as he looked up at her curiously. "There's a fair come into town, I thought we could go." His face finally lit up in a huge smile.

"Really!?"

"Why not. I think we both deserve a treat." She nodded to emphasise the point and her arm around him tightened. "Just promise me one thing?"

"Anything." He was still smiling and obviously excited.

"No scary rides, please." Bobby laughed and made no promises, after all, he was a little dare-devil.

888

"So this was Hanks fault?" The man in the finely crafted and expensive business suit asked as he stood before his son, who after a long day just wanted to sleep.

"I never said that." Eric declared. "Hank made a different call to what I suggested…that's all."

"And as a result he not only put the team's victory at risk, but your life." His father had a one track mind when it came to things regarding Eric, everything had to be perfect. His speech, his clothes, his behaviour and of course his entire life. It always amazed Eric that his parents done everything they could possibly think of to ensure that Eric had the very best and achieved in everything he done, yet they ignored his very existence when work called or business associates called for a meeting on the Golf Course.

"It was an accident; it's a contact sport after all." Eric walked into the study behind his father who was getting more and more wound up over the incident.

"Suffice to say, if Hank had listened to a competent member of the team, you and the other guys wouldn't have been put into that situation." His father sat at the desk, picking up the phone. "I think I've stood by long enough. You were robbed of the captaincy to start with; it's about time that was finally put right." Eric's eyes widened as he understood what his father was about to do. He shot forward and took the phone from his father and placed it back down onto the handle.

"Hank won the captaincy!" He declared. "You can't keep doing this, Dad."

"Doing what? Looking out for my son?"

"I'm sixteen now, I'm able to make my own way in life, largely thanks to you and Mom not being there!" He shouted out the words he had been biting back for the last five years. When the substitutes ceased to work, when, like all attention starved children he took to demanding things that should have been out of reach, but not for his family. They were after all, rich. He was given everything he wanted when he wanted it, but they failed to see just what it was he craved…

His father stood slamming his hand down onto the large oak table. He rarely showed his anger like this, always reserved and calm, the look of a true professional. Eric stepped back, a little scared by the sudden outburst.

"Not there!? And why do you think that is, Eric?" The dark haired lad just met his fathers' eyes, trying not to seem too afraid but he could feel his emotions rising. The emotions he usually kept locked away deep inside… "Like it or not your mother and I have a business to run, to make it successful, so we have something to leave to you!" His father shouted the last word, emphasising the reason why they were working so hard. It was all for Eric. All his fault.

He swallowed thickly just as his father adjusted his tie, seeming to regain his earlier composure.

"I think it's about time you started to learn just what that means." His father continued seeing Eric look up from the floor, a scowl still firmly in place, but the black look seemed not to affect his father in the slightest. "You're attending dinner this evening, wear a suit."

"We're having dinner together?" Eric asked hopefully but his father simply looked back, expression as hard as stone.

"It's about time you learned the family business." He stated flatly before leaving, walking by Eric with out another glance at the confused lad.

"That could have gone better…" Eric said to himself as he stood in his fathers study alone.

888

The weekend had finally arrived and Presto, as usual had his nose buried in some magic book, every minute of his spare time was dedicated to the practice of magic. It intrigued him and despite his academic promise, it was magic he wanted to devote his life to, much to the disappointment of his science tutor who was the only one in the entire school to still address him by his actual name, Preston.

Presto preferred the nick-name. It just seemed so fitting and it was kindly given to him by his oldest friend, Eric. As usual the older boy had been trying his hardest to humiliate Presto as he attempted and failed yet another card trick, but Presto had always been such a laid by kind of individual and it had to be said, most of the things Eric said were pretty funny and true. There really was no reason for Presto to be angry at the older boy for just pointing out facts; in fact, Presto respected the guy for it, even when that viper-tongue was aimed in his direction.

"Presto!" The lad lifted his gaze from the book he was engrossed in and turned towards the direction of the voice who had called out to him and his heart missed a beat.

"Hey, D...Dianna." He shot her a nervous smile as he attempted to get a hold on his emotions and he hoped to what ever God that heard him that she didn't notice the redness of his face as she ran towards him.

She was wearing shorts and a belly top, carrying a bag which she threw over her shoulder as she fell into step beside him.

He had known her only the last year or so, since Dianna had moved to the town from some farm in the country. Since the day he'd laid eyes on her he had been in love. At least that's what he thought it was, his dad insisted that it was just a crush, Presto didn't care what it was called, all he knew was that he cared about this girl.

"Nice day, I'm just heading to the pool, wanna come?" She asked with a kind smile and he found himself smiling back when she was expecting an answer. He floundered as he tried to find his tongue and get it to work.

"Oh, I…well yeah." He finally squeaked. "Not that I'll be swimming or anything, I really need to get over this cold."

"Sure, you can sit and read. I just don't feel like going on my own." Her tone turned sad and Presto could see uncertainty in her eyes. Usually she was so confident and full of energy, today she seemed so down.

"You okay, Dianna?" He asked, closing his book and not caring one bit he'd just lost his page.

"Yeah." She smiled again, this time it was clearly forced and the young girl actually seemed to shrink as a group of girls passed, all laughing and joking with one another. There was only one he knew and that was through Eric. She was a pretty blond girl called Katherine. For the longest time she had a crush on Eric and was in some way connected to Eric's family, which meant he couldn't exactly escape her unwanted attentions. Presto wasn't sure why Eric kept rejecting her advances since she was very pretty and obviously rich.

Presto didn't really hear or understand what they were saying, he was too focused on what Dianna was about to say. A sudden shrill giggle sounded from the group and Dianna slowed, so the girls now ahead could get further away and Presto finally put two and two together when he heard Katherine use an utterly horrible word, aimed at Dianna.

Presto saw read, his book dropped from his hand and the skinny red-head started for the group shouting out his own cruel words, shaking his fist in their direction. He didn't really know what he was saying until it was too late and Dianna grabbed his hand gently and moved to stand in his way.

"Don't, Presto." She asked of him softly, to ashamed it seemed to fight back.

"What?" He looked at her incredulously. "Dianna, they can't say things like that."

"Please, Presto. I can't…I don't want to deal with this today."

"Today?" He blinked. "You mean, this isn't the first time they've…"

She shook her head and started walking back the way she came and Presto followed.

"Dianna you have to report her for that."

"And where will that get me, Presto? You know she never gets into trouble for anything, her 'daddy' has half the school in his pocket." She handed back his book and only now did the lad realise he'd let it go. "I'd rather just pretend this didn't happen and have fun." She sniffed and started walking once more.

Presto's heart was breaking over this, he'd never seen her so unhappy. He just wanted her to smile again.

"Hey!" He squeaked suddenly, deciding to drop the subject and ensure she did have fun this day. He would make her smile, he made it his mission. "I have an idea…" He smiled as he caught up with her again and his smile seemed to be infectious at least, as the corners of those beautiful pink coated lips, lifted and she smiled back at him.

888

Bobby stood against the wooden board of a cartoon tiger holding up his paw with a speech bubble above him stating, 'you need to be this tall to ride this amusement'. Of course, Bobby was just that fraction to short and once more was refused entry on another of the bigger rides.

He folded his arms as the guy on the booth shook his head, ignoring his argument that being just a little too short would make any difference to his safety. Of course his sister agreed with the guy out right and he now found himself being herded towards the more lamer rides.

"This bites! I wish people would stop saying I'm to short for this stuff! Why can't there just be an age limit, why is it always height?" He asked though in reality he was just letting off steam and wasn't interested in the explanation his sister offered. With arms still folded in defiance he sat down on a bench refusing to go on any of the 'kid' stuff.

He felt more than saw Hank sit by him after sharing a 'look' with Sheila.

"Cheer up, Bobby. There plenty of rides you can go on." The older boy said, putting his arm on Bobby's shoulder and only now did the younger lad start to calm down.

"Like what?" He asked, not really believing for one moment these rides actually existed.

"The Bumper Cars, The Big Wheel and there's one over there that doesn't have a height restriction. They're all a lot of fun, trust me."

The young lad let out a sigh and nodded. "If you say so, Hank." The lad stood and looked around. "I'm gonna get a Hot-dog first." Sheila giggled at that and the Bobby scowled up at her.

"Bobby I know you're in a hurry to grow up, but if you're not careful, you're gonna grow out." Bobby just smiled and shrugged.

"I'm hungry!" He stated and gladly took the five dollar bill she handed to him before she counted what she had left in her purse. There wasn't a lot to start with but she was going to make sure Bobby got the day out he deserved and ignoring her own growling stomach, she closed the purse, saving all she had for his tickets.

She looked up as she felt a pair of eyes watching her. She knew it was Hank giving her 'that look' and she immediately turned away, pretending to watch Bobby, making sure he was fine. Of course he was fine, she just didn't want Hank to see how much she was struggling.

"You know that doesn't work on me, Sheila." Hank said as he now stood before her and she shot him a smile.

"Can't blame me for trying." She shrugged as she allowed him to lead her to the burger van, where Bobby already had his foot-long and was trying to devour it in one bite.

"What do you want?" Hank asked as he took out his wallet.

"Just a soda." She replied, sighing when Hank went and ordered her a burger also. "Hank…"

"Sheila, just accept this one thing from me, please?" He smiled sincerely looking concerned for her. They'd been out all afternoon and he had yet to see her eat, it was the same at the school cafeteria. Her tray empty say for a piece of fruit and a soda. She always said it was because she wasn't hungry when in reality she was starving, but never had enough money for anything more.

"Thank you." She said softly, barely keeping a handle on her misery. A steadying hand wrapped around her and she leaned into Hanks embrace. She was reminded once more of how close they used to be. They were still close but before, it had been different and so good. Good as friends could ever hope to be, but there was nothing more than that and both had come to realise this at the exact same moment. They cared for one another deeply, but it wasn't love. They intimate relationship had ended on that day, but their closeness continued. After all, they had given each other something that could never be taken back to give away again… They would always have that gift, that little part of one another…

"Oh get a room already." Came an unexpected voice and all three turned to see Eric stood with Katherine and a couple of her friends. She was seldom seen with out this select five consisting of three other girls and two boys. It was strange however to see Eric with them and Sheila had to wonder if he was still suffering the affects of the football game injury.

Sheila, rather self-consciously stepped away from Hank who just rolled his eyes towards the older dark-haired youth.

"Seriously, isn't this place a little public for that kind of stuff?" Eric asked with a wicked smile. The smile of his vanished however as the smaller blond at his side laughed.

"Come now, Eric. I think this is the perfect place for 'that kind of stuff'." She smiled before taking hold of Eric's face and kissed him, her arms snaking around his neck.

Sheila didn't understand why, but she now really didn't like this girl. It was unusual for her to take a dislike to anyone, but this girl… She was just…horrible and she felt a tiny spark of relief when Eric ended the kiss prematurely by pushing her away.

"Yeah, well. I still think it's to public…" He all but spat the words before glaring at the short blond girl. She of course couldn't see she had genuinely angered him and continued in her coy taunts.

"Well if we can't play, I want some lunch. Take me out to lunch, Eric." Katherine continued to stroke Eric's' face shamelessly and the dark-haired lad looked like he was about to explode.

"There's a burger van right here." He stated and waited for her to help herself, unfortunately that didn't happen and Sheila had to wonder what was going on when she shook her head and like some kind of faithfully trained puppy, Eric was marched away. Off to find an upper class burger van… at least that's how Bobby had put it as they left.

Sheila looked to Hank who look equally shocked at what they had just witnessed. Eric never let anyone push him around like that, ever.

"What's going on…" Sheila mused allowed and all Hank could do was shake his head.

"I'd say Eric suffered some brain-damage when he stopped breathing." Bobby then belched.

888

Eric had to wonder if he had actually died on that football field and this was hell. It had to be, because he only pictured himself being in these kinds of situations in his worst nightmares.

Katherine was vile and that was putting it mildly. It wasn't that she was ugly or anything, quite the opposite, she was ugly as sin under the skin while the perfect pale flesh done a damn good job of hiding that fact. Eric however had seen her evil nature and done his best to put as much space between them as possible while she done her best to pursue him with romantic intentions. That was the last thing on his mind when dealing with her. Unfortunately her parents were in business with Eric's family and business always came first and foremost in this household.

The dinner he attended the previous night was all about sealing a deal with Katherine's family and unluckily for Eric, she had attended the same function. She had not let him be the entire night, even suggesting in front of both sets of parents that she would absolutely love it if Eric took her to the fair at the weekend. Set of parents one; wanted what their little princess wanted and set of parents two; wanted to ensure the deal was closed and guaranteed and that meant Eric had little choice in the matter and was now stuck with this vindictive little tart. For him to refuse would be to bring down the full wrath of his father, something he had merely sampled the day before.

Later that night came another lecture, one that had ended badly for Eric who, for the rest of the night tried his best to hide the bruised cheek and when it was noticed, a lie flowed from his lips a little to easily for Eric's liking. It was unsettling, that he could lie about something so serious and not even break a sweat.

The words his father used still rang loudly in his mind. It was time for him to grow up and show some initiative, to cut loose those who could not help him achieve greatness and instead to use them in any way that was deemed necessary. Training had started and it was intensive. Eric would no longer be attending public school, much to his frustration and instead a private tutor had been brought in. No more would there be a weekend for him to enjoy, the only time he would be allowed out, would be when the business call for it, like now, with Katherine.

He'd lost his old life of being foot-loose and fancy free. Now he had to do as he was told, or there would be greater repercussions.

His hand absently went to the side of his face where his fathers' fist had struck him when Eric once again let his tongue fly. He could get away with that only at school, but there with his father…he'd met his match.

"What are you waiting for?" Katherine asked as she and her friends made themselves comfortable. "Be a sweetie and get us all a drink." She smiled sweetly but Eric didn't return it, instead he turned and headed to the counter of the mobile Starbucks ordering the drinks choosing to wait at the counter, anything he could do to stay more than ten feet away from her.

He watched as she and her friends interacted, their conversations inane and dull. Talking about the latest car 'daddy' had bought and the dress-size they could not fit into. Thrilling. He hated people like this, people who had nothing better to talk about but their wealth. He guessed that's why he preferred Hank and the gangs company to these chumps.

"Oh no, look who it is." He heard Katherine say and looked towards the person she was speaking about and sighed. "You think she would take the hint and leave, this place is to clean for the likes of her." Katherine continued, a little louder this time so the person her discrimination was directed at could hear.

Eric's heart sank as he noticed Dianna's shoulders stiffen as she attempted to aim the air rifle at the little metal ducks. He wondered where she got the strength from, as he would have turned the weapon on Katherine the second she opened her mouth.

The four sheep with Katherine laughed as more, equally racist comments came from her venomous mouth and as strong as he knew Dianna was, he also knew she'd been suffering this for some time from people like Katherine. He hadn't said anything; he didn't want to embarrass her. Dianna was very proud and for the longest time she was coping, but lately he'd heard stories that she'd struck out in anger or spoken back, beaten down to their level and he knew that must be very hard for a proud woman like Dianna.

Her concentration was lost on the shooting gallery and her hands fell, the air rifle still in her grasp; she was just looking at her hands.

One more comment came and Dianna snapped, turning to face them, not knowing what she was going to do, lost in her own fury and sorrow.

Eric, now stood right next to her, as she spun they came face to face, nose to nose and gently, as he looked into those big brown eyes of hers, shimmering with tears of anger, he took the rifle from her hands and she let him.

He just gazed at her for the longest time, and she gazed right back. Despite their aggressive friendship, he cared about her as much as any of the others. She kept him on his toes and he challenged her.

As he stepped forward to stand at the shooting gallery, she stepped back, almost like a dance, like they had been partners for years, reading one another easily and with confidence.

He took aim at the targets, ignoring the disgruntled comments that came from Katherine as her boyfriend (he shuddered at that) was stood so close to one of them. Keeping the duck in the sights of the rifle was harder than he thought, since there was a perfect moving target just behind them.

He fired three times while Dianna remained stood beside him, trying to keep a handle on her anger. He'd missed all but one of the targets. He turned to her, seriousness in his eyes as their eyes locked. Her eye were shinning with unshed tears, her hands shaking with barely contained rage.

"Don't you dare cry." He demanded of his friend. It was a statement that when spoken, held no hint of concern or empathy for her. To an outsider he was being cruel, to Dianna he was reminding her, she was stronger than that.

Her expression changed from one of reckless emotion to determination as she nodded and Eric handed her the small stuffed animal he'd won. A unicorn, that fit perfectly into the palm of her hand. This simple gesture obviously upset Katherine as she slowly approached, walking with a sultry purpose.

"What are you doing?" She demanded and Eric barely glanced her way as Presto appeared from no where with two frozen cherry drinks. "Do you realise how bad you look?" A snigger followed as she looked back to her friends for support, it was given in the form of laughter and insulting comments. It was now Eric smiled. This was where he shined.

"About as bad as you're outfit. Seriously, where did you find that stuff, the bottom of a bin?"

"You know fine well where this came from!" She stated incredulously.

"Well thank you for confirming my suspicions, now everyone here knows your clothes are second…or maybe even third-hand?" He smirked and shook his head. "And I'd appreciate it if you'd stop trying to latch onto me, I don't associate with desperate, racist tarts like you."

The last sent a whole lot of jaws dropping, but at least five of those jaws were smiling. Hank, Sheila and Bobby arrived in time for the finale. Katherine looked ready to explode as Eric just walked calmly away, he only paused as she spoke once more.

"Just wait till I tell my father about this, your life won't be worth living! I'll make sure the merger won't happen and it'll be your entire fault!"

He closed his eyes and seemed to think it over. Maybe he had done the wrong thing? But when it felt this good, how could it be wrong?

"Seriously, sweet-heart. Grow up." He shot her one last glare before walking off with his friends. He could at least have one last run of fun before he would be forced to grow up and become the worlds youngest businessman. The first ride loomed ahead, one he would have to suffer for the sake of the shortest of their group, who was positively thrilled.

"Dungeons and Dragons?" He rolled his eyes as they cued for the ride. "I've just told the biggest baby in our year to grow up and you guys drag me on this thing? Sheesh…"