Title: Change My World
Spoilers: Time Stands Still parts 1 and 2
Summery: Rick and a gun… Jimmy and words; it doesn't take much to rip you into pieces. Or change your world.
Disclaimer: I don't own a single character in this story, some Canadian does so don't even think about suing me. Okay?
Rick Murray felt like he was in a daze. He was a phantom inside his own body looking through his own eyes but there was another entity entirely moving him toward his destination.
If he were a religious person Rick might have claimed it was a devil, a demon composed of pure rage residing in his flesh, but he wasn't devout despite his mother's best efforts, and he wasn't possessed. In fact, Rick couldn't say he felt angry; this sensation flowing through him was too cold, too still to really be called anger.
Even when he caught sight of Jimmy he didn't feel a single flame of anger flare. The only thing he felt was absolute certainty he knew what had to be done. This whole damned school was going to pay and Rick intended to collect from Jimmy the Traitor, his Judas, first.
It's true Rick was supremely pissed when he liberated his father's service pistol from its case. He was ready to kill every person who mocked and tormented him at Degrassi. Then he talked to Paige in the gym, and he was going to kill her right there, but she forgave him—no, that's not true—she told him he didn't deserve to be humiliated like that even after what he did to Terri. Rick didn't think anything could surprise him anymore; even getting "tarred and feathered" in front of half of Canada hadn't surprised him. A part of him wanted to reject his brief moment of glory even as he exalted in it. Nothing wonderful ever happened to him, not to Rick Murray.
Paige showed him mercy and Rick's astonishment usurped his rage, caused it to lessen to a dull pain deep within he soul, where so much was stored already, where Rick could easily elude it. Pretend he was a rational, functional human being… for a time. Just for a while.
The paint was drying and people in the halls stared, Rick was beyond shame. He went to his locker and put his bag and his paint-drenched jacket inside, feeling dazed and strangely enough, relieved. After closing the locker and twisting the combination lock, Rick became very aware of the paint splattered over the rest of him. Rick headed for the boys' restroom and thankfully found it empty. He used the sink closest to the paper towel dispenser to rinse the yellow paint off his face and the mixture of feathers and paint out of his hair.
Whatever kind of paint they used it was water-soluble and came off without much fuss, not all of it washed away but enough did that Rick didn't feel slathered anymore.
Rick replaced his glasses when he was done and looked in the mirror above the sink. He looked so calm; there was no indication of the tempest raging inside his head showing on his face or through his eyes. If he could only make the inside more like the outside…
I can get through this, I just need to survive today and everything will be all right, Rick thought and he even believed it a little.
"Damn it," he cursed softly when he found only one paper towel inside the dispenser. Looking around he saw a full roll of tissue paper was in the stall behind him. Sighing, Rick went inside and started gathering up a wad of the dry, stiff tissues. Then he heard them. Jay and Spinner. He knew Jay's hyena laughter and Spinner's dumb, nauseating voice anywhere.
Rick quickly closed the bathroom stall and slid its steel lock into place, then tried to press as far back into the stall as possible. He didn't exactly feel afraid of them, there was very little they could do to him now that'd be worse than what happened earlier that day. But Rick didn't have the energy to face them; couldn't have mustered up the slightest righteous outrage. Right then he felt as responsible for the prank as they were. He retaliated when he should have kept his head down and bared their torture.
They might have gotten bored and left him alone if he hadn't been so smug.
Rick needed to stay out of their way and make it through the day without provoking more trouble; as soon as he could he'd go back home like Toby suggested. Let the storms blow over. Rick hardly dared to breathe standing inside the stall, waiting for Jay and Spinner to leave.
All he could do was wait, wait and listen.
No. No. No.
Jimmy… I thought he was… He set me up, acting like he wanted to give me a chance, to be my friend. He was supposed to be different and it turns out he's the worst kind of bastard there is! Jay and Spinner are jackasses, but at least they're jackasses to my face—they never pretended to be my friend!
Rick was not conscious of going back to his locker. Later he couldn't remember grabbing his bag and clutching it to his chest. One minute he's listening to Jay and Spinner laughing as they left the restroom, the next he's walking up to Jimmy in the hallway.
The traitor didn't see him approach; he was carefully stacking books inside his locker. He looked somber, Jimmy did, sad, and Rick felt the knife of betrayal sink deeper in his gut. Rick had to give it to the slime; even standing there all by himself he was committed to his "look at me, I'm innocent" act.
The knife sank deeper the more Rick thought about it, he reached into his bag. He was getting colder. More certain.
"Rick!" Jimmy said when he saw him, he sounded so surprised. I just bet you're surprised to see me. Well, seeing me in school after what you did isn't going be the biggest surprise you're going to get today, Rick thought. Then he almost growled when he watched pity take root in Jimmy's eyes. Rick's hand slowly tightened around the rough surface of the pistol's grip. He didn't pull it out though; he wanted to confront Jimmy with his betrayal before he put the bastard in his place.
"How… how are you holding up?"
"Good," Rick replied, looking down, afraid Jimmy might see the murderous intent in his eyes.
"I'm glad. Look, I'm sorry about what happened. They… they shouldn't have done that and--"
Stop lying! Stop lying right to my face!
"--I just want to tell you if those guys give you any--"
Rick looked up at Jimmy and he felt his lips trembling. He was about to pull the pistol out, his index finger inching towards the trigger. A moment ago the over-long hair on his head was wet from the rinsing in the restroom, but now his sweat was starting to dampen it as well—Jimmy's time had almost come.
Rick was so intent on the killing Jimmy he hadn't noticed the other boy stopped talking and was staring at him raptly.
"My God, you're so beautiful," Jimmy said, his voice came out a whisper but was still loud enough for Rick to hear the words clearly.
Rick's hand stopped moving. He stopped moving. "What did you say?"
Jimmy blinked and swerved to face his closed locker, Rick saw his at least one of his eyes was closed very tightly.
Jimmy, eye still closed, covered his mouth with his right hand and cursed into his palm. And they stood like that for a long time: Jimmy with his hand masking his mouth and Rick with his hand loosely wrapped around the pistol grip, neither one saying anything.
The period bell rang and students swarmed like ants around them, marching out of one class to another. Some of the kids noticed Rick; they whispered and they laughed. Rick saw and heard none of it. His world, his very awareness, consisted of nothing except Jimmy and those five startling words Jimmy said to him.
Finally, Jimmy dropped his hand and slowly turned his back to Rick, and then even more slowly he walked away. Rick watched his stiff-backed stride not knowing what to think or what to do. He sure as hell didn't know what to say. Jimmy merged with a throng of students but he didn't disappear, he was taller than the majority and Rick followed him with his gaze until he retreated around a corner.
Rick pulled his hand out of the bag and stared at it, then lowered his arm to his side. What does that mean? What did he mean? I don't understand… Rick was confused. But he wasn't, not really. Rick was a lot of things, but dim wasn't one of them—stubborn, vengeful and petty, yes, but stupid, no.
The tardy bell rung and then Rick was standing in an empty hallway. It was quiet, Rick knew it had to be quiet, but there was a storm—a brand new maelstrom—of emotions roaring so loud between his ears it was deafening. Sucking him further beneath the sea of disquiet and confusion he drowned in.
Rick pressed his back against a locker and slid down to the floor, still clutching his book bag with one arm. Why isn't the world the way it should be? Why does it keep shifting, making me trip and fall on my face all the time? Rick brought up his right hand again and stared at the pale lines creasing his palm, waffle patterns from the pistol indented in his skin. He was going to shoot Jimmy. He was going to kill him.
'My God, you're so beautiful.'
Rick made his hand into a fist and started to pound it against the slick, reflective linoleum, but his fist slowed an inch from the floor and impacted gently once, twice then stayed at rest. He was so tired, so very tired. Rick pushed himself up from the floor looked left then right and tried to remember where the nearest exit was.
He never should have come back to this school. Never should have tried to make things right when the truth was he hadn't the faintest idea how. He'd been arrogant, he thought he was so smart and had everything figured out.
Terri, the one girl in the world who cared about him despite the rot eating away at him from the inside out, said he was the best thing to happen to her—he put her in a coma. Hurt her so badly she ended up in British Columbia trying to get her body to work again at a convalescent hospital. Toby risked his friends and his well being to stand by him, and he was suffering because of it. Jimmy… Jimmy called him beautiful.
He said I'm beautiful and I was going to…
Rick stepped outside into the bright, clear day beyond the walls of Degrassi. It was just another day like any other. The world hadn't changed one iota. There was no earth-shattering cataclysm to make the birds stop singing or the sun go dark. Rick suspected tomorrow would be the same.