Chapter 6

Misconceptions and Teachings

When I came down from changing a few minutes later, Kevin was bent over the writing desk scribbling furiously. Still slightly miffed, I ignored him in favor of checking on dinner. It was a good thing that I did, the edges were just turning the darker side of brown. With quick hands, I pulled the pizza out and set it to cool with a slight flourish. I always enjoyed cooking but I found that cooking for someone else made the experience that much more.

I had grown used to Ed, who had sort of a sixth sense for when food was ready, so when Kevin didn't immediately appear I peeked out into the other room. He remained hunched over, concentrating. Not one to interrupt someone they were when working so hard, I waited. In the meantime, I cleaned up. When I finished, I sat for a few more minutes before I gave in.

Poking my head around the door, I said, "Kevin? Supper's ready," then mentally flinched at how that resembled a house-wife.

Fortunately, either Kevin didn't notice or chose not to comment. He stood up, stretching slightly before turning. His face wore his familiar smirk of smug satisfaction. It made me immediately suspicious. It was the same look he had when we were pinned in a corner and he was just winding up for the first punch.

Trying my best to force back any unpleasant flashbacks, I gave him an arch look. "You look pleased with yourself. Any particular reason why?"

Kevin's smirk twisted into something resembling a smile before reverting back. "I remembered how to do one of the problems."

"Oh?" I blinked. "That's great!" So, Kevin's satisfied face wasn't only for bullying us, but for stuff like that as well. That was nice to know. Though, it was odd that he tried not to smile about it. Maybe being pleased wasn't the same as being satisfied.

There I go, psychoanalyzing him again. Well, to be fair, he was a bit of a dichotomy. Case in point, his relationship with the other kids. With them, Kevin isn't that bad a guy. I wonder if he behaved similarly as he was doing now with the other kids and that's why he's so popular. I mean, he was always awful to us, by 'us' I refer to Ed, Eddy, and myself, but the other kids have always seemed very willing to follow him when he planned parties or took a stand. Now that I think about it, I don't think I've really seen Kevin act all that cruelly to the other kids. Just us, and from what I understand, this had gone on before I arrived. Was it Eddy? Kevin never really focused much on Ed, and I imagine Ed's head was so up in the clouds it would be rather pointless to make fun of him. Myself, well, we could clearly get along at times. What was it about Eddy that Kevin found so distasteful? His behavior? His scams?

I could ask Eddy, but I suspect that's a landmine type of conversation. I did wish I understood them. If only so that it would be easier for me to deal with them.

"Hungry?" I asked, gesturing him towards the kitchen.

"Starving," Kevin replied with a nod. Tossing the pencil on the desk, he walked past me into the kitchen.

"Hey, this isn't half bad," Kevin said a few minutes later after taking his first bite of pizza.

"Thank you, Kevin." I set two glasses of milk in front of our places at the table then returned to my own chair in front of him.

"You made this from scratch?"

"I did."

Kevin peeled off a pepperoni slice and popped it into his mouth. "Even the pepperoni?"

"Oh, goodness no!" I laughed. "It would take weeks to cure the meat for a pepperoni sausage! I don't think pizza would require that much planning ahead. I bought that."

Kevin made a face. "Yeah, that would be a little scary, Double D. Even for you."

I huffed, a small smile playing across my lips. "So I'm scary now?"

"Of course."

I raised an eyebrow, "Do I scare you, Kevin?"

He scoffed. "Of course not. Nothing scares me." Sticking his chest out, Kevin preened so exaggeratedly that I laughed.

"Of course not, Kevin. So, how am I scary then?"

"Not scary as in frightening, but more like 'Wait, how old is this kid, again?'"

"Ah, so I'm mature for my age." Nothing new there.

"Sure."

I cleaned my fingers on my napkin. "What does that mean?"

"What?"

I kept the conversation light by tilting my head and lifting both eyebrows. "That was a very placating 'sure'."

"Oh no," Kevin drawled. "That was a very agreeable 'sure'."

"Right."

"Right."

Our gaze locked for a long moment before we both grinned.

"Right then," Kevin said. "I can usually keep up with you because I can figure out what you mean by the context, but placating means…?"

"To mollify. Um. To soothe. In this case, in a rather mocking way."

"Ah good, thought it was something like that. Gotta say, Double D, even if you weren't tutoring me, just listening to you is a lesson in language comprehension."

"I'll take that as a compliment, Kevin," I said, offering him another piece of pizza. This time he took a cheese. I balanced him out and took my first pepperoni.

"You would," Kevin said with a smirk.

"Oh? Is it not?" I replied with a bit of playful haughtiness.

"It's simply you, Double D."

I blinked, staring at him. The way he said that was amused, almost fond. I ducked my head slightly and quickly took a bite.

The kitchen filled with the muffled sound of chewing. It was kind of gross, but any further conversation topics eluded me.

"So," Kevin said after draining the last of his milk. "Is there any lesson you are planning today?"

"Actually," I said, standing up. "I won't be getting the syllabus until we head up to the school tomorrow, so I thought I'd get an idea of what you remember with the questionnaire so I know what to focus on." Reaching into the pantry, I removed a plastic container and set it on the table. "Unless there is anything you would like to work on tonight?" I finished.

"Uh, no." Kevin bent forward to try and look through the frosted plastic. I grinned and pulled off the lid.

"Dessert?"

Kevin took in the ten leftover cookies from his mother laid neatly in the container with a slice of bread to keep them soft. He grinned. "Absolutely."

As I shut the front door behind Kevin about twenty minutes later, I let out a long sigh. No explosions, no battles, the night had gone relatively well. I smiled. Not only had it gone well, but I had a chance to see Kevin's face when something clicked in his head in the questionnaire. It made me even more excited for the weeks to come. Sure, there would be fights, I could not see any way around it, but I began to understand the determination teachers had with their students. I couldn't wait to get started.

The rest of the evening was taken up by grading Kevin's papers. He seemed to have a good handle on English and reading, and after what he said today that didn't surprise me. In History, he was fairly confident in names, but when it came to dates, the numbers were all jumbled. That pattern continued into the Mathematics and Chemistry sections. When it came to the theory, Kevin seemed to do well, it was when the equations came out that he seemed to get lost.

I was in the midst of trying to organize a method to help with this when the phone rang. Glancing at the clock, I noticed it was after ten. Wondering who would be calling me so late, I picked up the receiver.

"Hello, Eddward, Double-D speaking."

"Hey, Double-D. It's Kevin."

"Hello Kevin," I said in some surprise. "Did you forget something?"

"No, I just got off the phone with Ms. Hafnium. She said she'll be in around nine tomorrow morning, and she'd be ready around 9:30, which I doubt, but yeah."

"I'm sorry you had to call her so late. I hope you didn't interrupt anything."

Kevin snorted. "Believe me, I doubt it was all that important."

I frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Nothing. Don't worry about it. So, nine-thirty tomorrow? Do you want to meet up first or just meet there?"

"Oh? Aren't you worried about being seen, or are you going to be in stealth-gear if I say meet up first?"

"Ha ha. It's early enough I doubt it'll be a problem to head over together."

"So kind. We might as well meet up first. We'll be going the same route anyway. Say, ten after?"

"Sounds good. I'll meet you at the park, then."

Ah, so it was not early enough to just go to the front door. Kevin was strange.

"Very well. Be sure to bring a notebook and pencil of some kind. Good night, Kevin."

"Night, Double D."

Nine o'clock, then? I thought as I hung up. That means I ought to wake up around seven so I can make breakfast, shower, and work on Kevin's paper some more. I glanced at the clock. In that case, it was bedtime for Double D. Tomorrow would be a busy day.


The next morning, I met Kevin right on time at the Peach Creek Park, which was about a five minute walk from my house. It's a small park, settled next to a concrete gutter that ran behind some of the houses before disappearing beneath the road. The park only contained a swing set, a 6x8 concrete square with a basketball hoop, and a jungle gym. It used to have a merry-go-round, but one of the parents thought that was dangerous and it got removed. Which was rather stupid, in my opinion. Kids get hurt, it didn't matter if the play equipment was made of wood or bubble-wrap, it will happen. If it was made of broken glass, I could see the point, but a merry-go-round? The only way to get hurt on that was if the kid either didn't hold on well enough, or jumped off wrong. Either way, the kid learned a valuable lesson and would be more careful next time.

When I arrived, Kevin was shooting some baskets with a basketball usually kept hidden at the park under some bushes near the gutter. I stood by and watched for a bit as Kevin shot and hit a couple more shots before one bounced off the rim. I ducked as it hit the ground next to me.

"Nice catch, Double D," Kevin said sarcastically, chasing after the ball.

"Sorry, Kevin. I'm just not a fan of objects flying at my head."

Lifting the ball casually in one hand, Kevin started back to me, a smirk appearing. "Can you even shoot a ball?"

"Not at all," I told him matter-of-factly. I knew my short-comings.

"Here," he offered the ball.

I stared at it as if it was going to bite. "You've got to be kidding."

"Not at all," he parroted. I glared. "Come on, Double D. It won't kill you to try it."

"My self-esteem will never be the same. Don't we need to get going?"

"Even if we arrive on time, I doubt she'll be ready until at least ten. What have you to lose? You already know you suck, so the only thing that would effect your self-esteem is actually making it."

Reluctantly, I took the ball. It was smooth from age and use, there was no way I would have a proper grip on this ball for even a decent attempt at a shot. "There's a difference between being theoretically bad at it and proving it." Still, I walked over until I was only two feet or so away from the basket. There was no way I was going to try dribbling. Setting my feet, I glanced at Kevin. He stood next to where he set his notebook with his arms crossed, waiting.

Right.

Before I throw this ball, I would like to make it clear that I have little to no arm strength. So the shot about to be described is the only way I could imagine it going any distance further than straight down.

I held the ball tightly between two hands and brought it between my knees. Then, with a mighty swing, threw the ball at the board. The ball left my hands in a perfect parallel to the ground for a few feet before it hit the ground rolling, continuing straight into the gutter.

"How's your self-esteem?" Kevin asked calmly.

"Smarting," I replied.

"I can imagine. Now, go get the ball, it's time to go."

"Me?! Do you know how disgusting it is down there?"

Kevin just shrugged. "You lost it, you get it. That's the rule."

I stared at him, but he remained unmoving. With a sickening feeling in my stomach, I reached into my back pocket and removed a pair of gloves. This was so unsanitary.

The water level in the gutter was low, only a trickle of about a foot across, and since it was concrete, there was enough traction that my trip down was fairly easy. The ball had rolled right in the middle of the water, a darker orange streak down the middle from the liquid. I picked it up carefully, trying to avoid the water. Turning around, I saw that Kevin had followed me and was standing at the top of the gutter with his hands held out.

"Toss it up."

I did so, Kevin catching it easily. He gave me an odd look for a moment before crouching down and offering me a hand. "It's a bit harder to get back up if you don't have a running start."

I'd have to agree with that, the angle had to be about 50 degrees. Not an easy one to walk up without some measure of momentum, or stronger legs than children have, let alone myself. I took the first few steps with relative ease, getting up high enough to reach Kevin's hand and took it. Between the two of us, I reached the top on the first try. No small thing, I'd watched the other kids play in the gutter making a game of running along up and down the sides. Getting back up from the bottom had taken all the kids a few tries from time to time, including Kevin, even when they have a running start from the other side.

Of course, I had never participated in such a thing, for one, it's very unsanitary, for another, Eddy was never interested in such games.

Kevin dusted off his hands while I snapped off the rubber gloves to place in the nearest trash receptacle. Kevin glanced at the gloves and said, "You're a strange one, Double D."

"Right back at you, Kevin."

Kevin blinked, "What?"

I straightened. "Alright. You've got your ball, now let's go. Whether or not Ms. Hafnium is ready is no excuse to be rude."

"Yessir," Kevin drawled.

We dropped the ball off in its regular hiding place. It wasn't much of a secret to the kids of the cul-de-sac. Mostly the purpose of it was to keep the kids from the other families in different areas, or the random drifter, from running off with it.

The walk to the school was done in relative silence, punctuated every so often by Kevin's yawn. When the school came into sight, I finally decided to ask, "Did you not get enough sleep?"

"Not really," Kevin shrugged. "I put off my chores last night until after I got back from your place, so I was up till about eleven finishing them."

"That's rather late. Do you have a lot of chores?" It seemed as though Eddy never had any chores. Although, Ed had his fair share along with the ones his sister piled onto him.

"Seems like it at times. But I was looking for something the other day and kinda tore up my room before I found it. Part of my grounding this summer is keeping my room clean."

"Oh, so you were grounded for your grades?" I suppose I assumed the tutoring made up for it.

"Yeah, not as bad as I thought though. Got more chores than I usually do, can't hang out with friends until Monday, and no TV for another week. Oh, and no dessert," he said the last with a mischievous grin.

I glared at him. "You cheater, you had five cookies yesterday."

He folded his hands behind his head with a smug look. "Oops, guess I forgot to tell you."

At the front of the building, I stopped and put my hands on my hips. "You think I won't have Ms. Hafnium do the full safety procedure on you, think again." I sniffed, and walked in.

"That's cruel and unusual punishment, Double D," Kevin called after me as I shut the door in his face. He was at my heels again after I'd only taken a few steps down the hall. "Tell you what, if you don't, I'll give you your pick of any jawbreaker in my garage."

"I'm not generally one to accept bribes, Kevin."

Kevin cut me off, crossing his arms in front of me. "But apparently you are one for blackmail."

"Fair point." I shot him a look. "Any jawbreaker… No matter how long it'll take?"

Kevin sighed, apparently remembering how fastidious I could be. "No matter how long it'll take," he agreed.

"It's a deal," I said, grinning. He smirked back briefly, before another yawn broke his face.

The school clock had just turned to 9:38 when we passed by. We arrived at the Chemistry lab not long after. The door was ajar, giving the view of seven long, black-stone tables, all but one of them clean with a fine glossy sheen from the open blinds of the six windows lined down the far wall. The last table was covered in Bunsen burners, beakers, flint sparkers, tubes, and bottles filled with variously labeled chemicals.

The room appeared empty until we stepped inside where we could see Ms. Hafnium at her desk, the view of which had been blocked by the door. The Chemistry teacher had short, sandy-blond hair, which was usually messy from her habit of running her hands through it when deep in thought. At the moment, she was holding her head in both hands, staring at the mass of papers in front of her, not having noticed us yet.

"Ms. Hafnium?" I said, just loud enough to be heard clearly, but not enough to be seen as impolite. She looked up, and I couldn't help but notice her wrinkled clothes and shadowed eyes. She was obviously tired or upset. Immediately, I felt guilty for interrupting her.

Starting to apologize, Kevin cut me off with a brisk, "I called last night about a tutoring session, Ms. Hafnium, remember?"

Ms. Hafnium stared at him, blinking slowly. "Ah, yes, right. Um." She looked around. "I'm afraid I'm not quite prepared. But, um. Just give me a few minutes."

I hid a sigh. Kevin was right, she had completely forgotten about it. Ah well. "Wait here, Kevin. I'll go see Miss and get the syllabus. I'll be right back."

He nodded and I quit the room just as I heard the rattle of glass as Ms. Hafnium nearly dropped a beaker.

That was odd, I thought as I headed down the hall. She wasn't usually clumsy. Scatterbrained, yes, she often tended to lose her place in her own lesson plans, but a clumsy Chemistry teacher was a danger to everyone in the room. I hope it wasn't due to whatever had obviously distressed her. Maybe a family member died. That would be awful, poor Ms. Hafnium. If that was the case, I'm sure we could have easily put off the lab for another week.

Yet, it was her decision as the adult whether or not she could handle the lesson. If she thought she couldn't then she could have easily just sent us away. There were no obligations here. Thus, she had to be confident in her ability to rise above whatever was bothering her. Certainly, I must have faith in her as a teacher to do the right thing.

Nodding to myself, I knocked at Miss' classroom. At the faint "Come in," I opened the door. Miss smiled upon seeing me and stood up. "Ah, Eddward, I'm surprised to see you so early. You've got good timing, I have just finished a syllabus I think would work well for you two." She pulled a few papers away from a file tray to her left and held them out to me. Taking a few steps, I accepted them with a nod.

"Thank you, Miss."

"Are you excited to get started?" she asked.

I nodded. "It should be an enlightening experience, Miss."

"I think you will do a great job."

I ducked my head, my cheeks heating. "Ah, thank you, Miss. I'm certainly going to do my best."

"See that Kevin does as well. That boy is a bit of a Smart Alek, but don't let him get away with half work."

"Yes, Miss."

"Alright, I see you're anxious to get started. Good luck, Eddward."

"Thank you, Miss."

As I was leaving, she called out, "Be sure to call me if you have any questions or problems. And I'm here on Mondays and Fridays during the summer, so feel free to stop in."

I nodded and thanked her again before slipping out the door.

When I returned to the lab, I saw Kevin had seated himself at the lab table nearest the front, his head propped up in his hand as he watched Ms. Hafnium messing with equipment. It looked like she only had it about halfway set up, so I joined Kevin, giving him a nod. He ignored me, his eyes tracking Ms. Hafnium's every move as she began fiddling with the flint sparker. I shrugged, and started flipping through the syllabus. Miss really seemed to know what Kevin needed to work on. There were several sections detailing Mathematics and very few on English. She had even written some lesson suggestions on different ways to present the information to Kevin. It was all very personalized and I should have felt very grateful, and I did, along with a little disappointed that she had made some suggestions that I hadn't even considered doing. Well, I guess I shouldn't be expected to think of everything. This was what teachers did for a li-

THUD! CRASH!

I jumped, papers flying from my hands as the loud sounds echoed through the room. Ms. Hafnium was on the floor, blood pooling around her head. Kevin crouched next to her, broken glass at his feet and clutching a hand that was quickly turning red and puckered.

Something clicked in my head.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! What happened? Holy-!

I found myself next to Kevin first. His face was white and sweat rolled down his cheeks. "Chemicals?" I asked. He nodded stiffly.

Chemicals!Howdidthishappen?Ohmygod,this is bad! Oh nono!

I stood in the chemical shower, shoving Kevin beneath it, yanking the cord to dump ice-cold water on him. "Keep under there," I ordered him.

WhatdoIdo? This is bad-bad-bad! Ohmygodgodgod.

I was at Ms. Hafnium's desk, grabbing the phone, dialing 9 to reach out of the building then 9-1-1. I remember speaking, I cannot recall the words.

I crouched next to Ms. Hafnium, kneeling to avoid the blood. The gibbering panic continued in the back of my head as the instructions I had memorized years ago in the case of an emergency began to play, my hands moving to follow them without conscious thought.

Check the person's airway, breathing, and circulation. If necessary, begin CPR. I felt a pulse and her breath was light, but present. It burned in my nose.

If the person's breathing and heart rate were normal, but the person is unconscious, treat as if there is a spinal injury. I placed my hands on either side of her head, stabilizing it, and keeping it in line with the spine to prevent any movement. My palms were warmed by her blood.

Stop any bleeding by firmly pressing a clean cloth on the wound. Cloth, cloth… Moving a hand carefully away, I dug in my pocket for the handkerchief I always kept there. Folding it with one hand, I found where her head was the most matted with blood and put it against the spot as instructed. The thin material was quickly soaked through. If the blood soaks through the cloth, do not remove it. Place another cloth over the first one. No other cloth in sight.

Abruptly, I remembered something else. "Kevin!" I yelled over my shoulder, careful not to move my hands. "Strip!"

"Already did!" I heard him yell back from beneath the torrent of water. "How long do I have to stay under here again?!"

For burns on arms or legs, place the burned area under running water for at least 15 minutes to flush off the chemical. "Fifteen minutes!"

"Oh, you gotta be kidding me! It's freezing under here! How long has it been?"

I spotted a towel on the table above me, a dark stain on the corner of the hard surface catching my attention. She hit her head on that? Reaching up, I managed to drag the towel off and put it against the handkerchief.

If suspected skull fractured, do not apply pressure to the wound. A little late for that. How on earth can you not put pressure to a skull fracture that is from a wound that is bleeding that you need to firmly press a cloth to? That made no sense. I noticed my hands were shaking and my breath was coming in short bursts. Not the time to have a panic attack.

"Double D? How long has it been?" Kevin repeated loudly.

My throat caught. "I don't know!"

I must have sounded slightly hysterical, because Kevin responded quickly. "That's fine. Don't worry about it. The ambulance is coming soon anyway."

Apply ice packs to swollen areas, my mind whispered. Her eyes were swollen. No ice. They had been like that when we came in. How long ago was that? Oh god, that was a lot of blood.

How could this happen? How?!

"W-What happened, Kevin?" My voice started to shake as much as my hands, I worried that he couldn't understand me through the water and my panic.

"She was drunk," Kevin spat out, his voice shook too, from the cold water most likely.

What?

"What?"

What? She was what? Drunk? But-… What? My brain skittered like a broken record around any semblance of comprehension. The word held less meaning for me at the moment than 'placating' had for Kevin.

"When I called her last night she was at a party and obviously hammered. I thought she would be hung over today, not drunk still! She tripped and hit her head on the side of the table, and knocked over some of the chemicals. I t-t-tried to catch them, but they spilled on me." He paused for a moment, then growled. "Fuck, it's cold."

"Language," I said automatically. As I said it, the sounds of sirens drifted to my ears. They weren't loud enough for Kevin to hear over the water. He snarled. "I think I'm allowed. Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck."

I didn't reply. Ignoring Kevin's soft stream of increasingly more filthy curses, I strained my ears to follow the sirens as they drew closer. At last, just after a panicked thought that they were going to drive right past, I heard the commotion of people outside. People yelled in the hallway as doors banged opened.

"Alright, make way!" the words came clear as I heard footsteps run into the room. A moment later, a man dressed in a dark blue jumpsuit with a medical bag appeared next to me, kneeling uncaringly in the blood.

"You the one that called in?" he asked briskly, moving to put his hands over my own. "Remove your hands now, please." I took my hands away, pressing them against my chest and backed away quickly.

"Yes. There's a kid with some chemical burns in the chemical shower."

"Okay, kid. Jacobson!"

Suddenly the room was full of EMTs, moving quickly with supplies and directing us all to different areas. A female EMT pulled me away, checking my hands and arms.

"It's hers. I'm fine," I tried to say, but she ignored me, checking my pulse and looking into my eyes.

"Your pulse is too fast and you're sweating, but that could be explained by the shock. Is there any place that hurts or feels strange?"

I shook my head. "No, I'm fine. Just a little overwhelmed."

She smiled at me, "I can imagine. I need to go help the others, if you any feel aches, pains, or feel nauseous, you need to go to the hospital, alright? Sometimes the shock will block out the pain until later."

"Adrenaline," I replied, nodding. Patting my shoulder, she left me standing next to the door. Kevin was no-where to be seen and they were just moving Ms. Hafnium onto a stretcher. I wasn't left alone long, a police officer tapped me on the shoulder and drew me from the room. Another female. I wondered if they send the girls to deal with the children because it would remind them of their mothers.

I was shaking again. The policewoman took me to another classroom, the History room, the walls were filled with historical quotes and figures. My gaze moved across them, counting each president, congressman, national leader, and important figure.

"Your name is Edd-ward, right? With two 'd's? How unusual."

"Mix-up at the hospital," I said vaguely. "Dad told them Edd with two because it was strong, Mom said Edward because it was elegant, nurse did both."

"Well, Eddward, I need you to tell me what happened today."

"I-I'm not sure." My hands started to shake again. I held them together tightly in my lap.

"Just tell me what you saw, alright?"

"Well, I, we, Kevin and I, that is, he." I stopped and tried to reorganize my thoughts.

"Take your time," she said, not unkindly.

"I'm supposed to be tutoring Kevin this summer. Some of the lessons required the use of some chemicals that children are not allowed to use unsupervised. Ms. Hafnium was supposed to help during these lessons. That was why we were here today!"

"That's fine," she said soothingly.

I took a deep breath, "Well, when we arrived around 9:38, she looked tired, and didn't remember about the lesson."

The policewoman was writing down what I said, but stopped and smiled at me. "'Around 9:38'?"

"Well, that's when we entered the building. It takes a few minutes to walk down the hall."

"Ah, I see." She scribbled something down then nodded at me to continue.

"She started to set up for the lesson and I went to see another teacher. I was only gone for a few minutes. When I got back, she was still setting up. I was reading something, I don't know for how long. I heard a loud noise and looked up and Ms. Hafnium was on the floor and Kevin was next to her…" I broke off, my chest burning. I bent over, my breath coming short and fast. Shaking violently, I tried to control myself. Not now, not now. Later. I can break down later.

The policewoman ran a hand in circles on my back, probably trying to sooth me, but instead was encouraging the attack. I held up a hand. "P-please, don't." She obeyed, standing and moving away for the few minutes it took for me to recollect myself.

"A-alright." I straightened, my knuckles white from where I gripped my hands together. After the policewoman took her seat in front of me again, I resumed. "I got Kevin to the chemical shower and called 911. I remembered what I learned about what to do in an emergency and kept Ms. Hafnium still and put a cloth to her head. T-there was a lot of blood."

"Yes," she said, her voice soft but calm. "Head wounds tend to bleed a lot, making them look worse than what they are." She put the pad down and held my shoulder in her hand, making me look at her. "Eddward, you did everything right. You did a very good job today."

She had kind eyes, I noticed, sort of a warm hazel. My whole body warmed under the praise from an adult, something I rarely receive.

"Will, will I need to go to the police station or anything?"

Withdrawing her hand, she shook her head. "So long as everything remains as straightforward as it appears, I don't believe so. But I will take your phone number. Shall I call your parents to have them take you home?"

"No, they're both at work right now. I'm staying at Kevin's place, I'll just go home with him, if he's okay."

"If you are sure?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Very well, let's go see how Kevin is then."

She led me down the suddenly huge hallway, it took the same number of steps to reach the doorway as usual, but the path seemed to stretch on for hours. Outside, there was a large crowd of people being restrained by four police officers. It mostly contained adults either off work or unemployed, but the kids of the cul-de-sac were there, drawn by the morbid curiosity sirens bring. I caught sight of Eddy and Ed in the crowd and dropped my head before I could meet their gaze. Fortunately, the policewoman took me to the back of an ambulance facing away from the crowd. In the back of the vehicle, Kevin sat with his legs swinging, his arm covered in white bandages and held with a sling. He appeared to be relaying his accounts to another police officer, this time male. As we approached, the officer glanced up and nodded at us.

"Thank you, Kevin, shall I call your mother?" I heard him say as we covered the last few feet.

Kevin shook his head. "I saw her in the crowd, I'll just go meet up with her." He saw me staring at his arm and explained, "Second-degree burns. Not bad enough to need to go to the hospital."

Relief flooded through me and I nearly collapsed as I sat next to him. "Good."

The police officers waited for a moment as if waiting for more, before Kevin's officer said, "Thank you both. Be sure to contact one of us if there is anything else you remember." He handed me two cards, one for Kevin, I assume. "We'll be right over there if you need anything else." He nodded at us and the two of them walked a ways away to converse amongst themselves. Probably comparing notes.

"You okay, Double D?" Kevin asked presently.

"Yes, " I said, nodding. Neither of us had the courage to look each other in the face. "Does it hurt?"

"Hurts like hell," Kevin confirmed. "They gave me a shot of something, so it's not too bad right now, and said to see my doctor later today for a prescription of pain meds."

"I told the police lady that I was staying at your place today," I admitted suddenly.

Kevin jerked his head towards me, I didn't look at him. "Why?"

Before I could think of something to say, I heard a loud, "Double D!" and was abruptly enveloped in warmth that smelled suspiciously like gravy.

"Ed?!" I yelped, nearly falling backwards at the strength of his hug.

"And Eddy, Double D!" Ed's voice confirmed.

"How on earth did you get back here?" I asked, bewildered.

"We snuck around the other side of the school," Eddy's voice said coolly. I felt a movement to my side. "Get off him, Lumpy."

Ed dragged himself away, beaming. "I'm so glad you're okay, Double D!"

I smiled faintly. "Me too." Glancing around, I saw Kevin had gotten up and moved a little bit away. Eddy looked me up and down then snorted and crossed his arms. "What happened, Double D, and why is he here," he jerked a thumb at Kevin, who sneered.

I thought quickly. "I read about a new elemental isotope called Helium 3 in the paper this morning and was going to ask Ms. Hafnium about it," I invented. "The paper was saying how it would revolutionize the way we look at energy and fueling. Well, it isn't a new isotope per say, it is just extremely rare on earth, usually sought after for it's use in nuclear fusion research. Because it's so rare we usually have to create it in a lab, but it turns out the moon is chalk-full of it! Just think of it, Eddy-"

"I don't care about the moon, Double D," Eddy cut off my rambling. "Why is Kevin here, too?"

Annoyed at his snooping, I glared. "I don't know, Eddy. Maybe he was asking Ms. Hafnium if she knew where the coach was, since it's rather hard to get hold of him during the summer. I didn't exactly have time to ask him when Ms. Hafnium fell, Eddy!"

Kevin was staring at me, but I ignored him to increase the ferocity of my glare at Eddy. He broke my gaze and growled. "Fine, then let's go home so you can tell me what happened with Ms. Hafnium."

"No."

"What?" Eddy's head snapped back around to face me.

"No, I still have to give my statement to the officer. Why don't you go home and I might meet up with you later."

Eddy bristled. "Might? What are you, too good for us now that you and Kevin had some sort of incident together?"

"That's not it at all, Eddy! I'm just not in the mood to cater to your ego right now."

"My ego? You're trying to talk to me about my ego when you've got him standing right there?!" Eddy jerked his hand at Kevin again, who was watching with a small smirk on his face.

"Don't make this about Kevin, Eddy. He hasn't even said anything to you! This is about you and how you refuse to allow me to interact with the people who live around us! Well, I've got news for you Eddy. I'm not a toy. I'll talk to whom I please, and right now it does not please me to talk to you!" I jumped down from the ambulance and walked away. "Come on, Kevin," I said loud enough for Eddy to hear.

"Sure," Kevin said, amusement clear in his tone as he followed me.

"Well, FINE" Eddy yelled after me. "Like I care what you do! Tch! Let's go, Lumpy. Apparently, Double D doesn't need us anymore!"

I nearly stopped at that, but when I hesitated, Kevin bumped into my shoulder and hissed as it jostled his arm. "Ah, sorry, Kevin."

"Don't worry about it, Double D. It was worth it to see the look on Eddy's face." He laughed coldly.

I spun on him. "Let's be clear on one thing, Kevin. This has nothing to do with you, got it? Eddy's just acting like a jerk and I'm not in the mood to deal with it."

He raised a hand as if to ward off my anger. "Hey, don't yell at me. I'm injured here."

Deflating, I nodded. "I'm sorry, Kevin."

We started walking again, heading back to the cul-de-sac. My house, my room in particular, began looking more and more welcome. All I wanted at that moment was to shower and hide in bed for the rest of the day.

"So, Double D," Kevin began, then stopped when I looked at him. He fiddled with his hat, a move I was beginning to associate with him feeling uncomfortable or nervous. "Why did you lie about why we were at school?"

"To Eddy?"

"Yeah, I mean. He's your friend, right?" He sneered a bit at the last few words.

Ignored that, I said, "That's part of the arrangement, right? That I can't tell Eddy and Ed about my tutoring you?"

"That's why? I mean, even after today?"

"Nothing happened today that would negate our agreement." I paused. "I hope Ms. Hafnium is okay."

Kevin shrugged. "She's fine. I heard them talking when I was getting my arm bandaged up. The wound wasn't too bad, she was mostly unconscious because of the alcohol. She's at the hospital for observation though. The police are probably going to charge her with something as well. At the very least, she's gonna get fired."

"Oh, poor Ms. Hafnium."

"Poor nothing!" Kevin snapped, a deep frown appearing on his brow. "She came to school drunk knowing that she would have to use chemicals today. She is incredibly irresponsible, I wouldn't be surprised if she is often tipsy at school considering how often she screws something up."

"Don't say that! You have no proof on that and it'll just spread vicious rumors!"

"I don't care! That woman should not have been put in charge of children! I hope she is fired."

"…I certainly don't think I could look at her the same way again." Blood. I shuddered.

"Hey, you did good today, Double D. I don't think I could've kept my head like that."

"I was panicking the whole time."

"You didn't let it stop you though. It was kinda cool."

I froze. When I looked up Kevin grinned at me. "You know," he continued nonchalantly, starting to walk ahead. "For a dork."

Jerk. I grinned and trotted to catch up with him. "Hey, wasn't your mom back at the school?"

"Yeah, but she saw us leave. She's probably going to talk to the police for a bit."

I looked at his arm. Kevin noticed and shrugged. "She was with me when I was getting wrapped up then went to go talk to Miss. Apparently she was having a bit of a hysterical fit about what happened to us."

"Oh, well I suppose I ought to go see her later."

Kevin made a noncommittal sound, "Probably not, she'll be eye deep in paperwork and phone calls. Give her a call later."

I hated calling people.

"I owe you a jawbreaker," Kevin announced suddenly. "I think after today you should get three, so long as you don't share with those other Eds. They didn't earn them, got it?" He shot me a glare.

"Sure, Kevin. I'll pick them out another time. Right now I just want to go home."

"Sure thing."

We were passing the park just then, it looked as green and simple as when we had left it. It was hard to believe.

"Right, I probably need to wait for Mom here. I don't have my key and she'll probably want to go to get that prescription."

I met his eyes. There was something different about him now, maybe it was pain or stress, but there was that almost fond look back in his eyes. It was the way Eddy sometimes looked when I came up with a scam for him on my own, or when I made a reference to a comic book Ed was reading. Something almost like respect.

Then again, I could be imagining things.

"Very well, Kevin. I'll see you around."

"Next Wednesday for sure," he said.

"Yes. Definitely next Wednesday. Good bye, Kevin."

"See ya, Double D."

With some relief, I went home.


A/N: Yes. I updated the real chapter on April Fools Day. I hate April Fools Day.