Part Seven

Trevor Bromahn was everything Jonathan Crane was not; tall, muscular, and stupid. He had movie star good looks, and a new girlfriend every week. Jonathan was less than pleased when he found out that this week's girlfriend was Riley. Riley was the only really friend Jonathan ever had, and he certainly never thought of her as shallow, until now.

"Jon, wait up! Oh come on, don't be like this!" She was hurrying after him, hiking her book bag up on her shoulder.

"I'm going to be late for class." Jonathan said lamely, not slowing down his pace.

"You're already late! Just stop and talk to me, please." She caught up to him and grabbed his arm to slow him down. He shook her off and walked faster.

"There is nothing to discuss."

"Oh, don't be like this, Jon. I hate when you're like this!" She shouted. Jonathan frowned. Everyone was already in class and her voice was echoing off the walls, and probably into the classrooms. "Trevor is a really nice guy!"

Jonathan stopped dead in his tracks, "Riley, you've hardly spoken two words to him until yesterday. His last girlfriend just dumped him, for obvious reasons. You're just next in line." He wasn't prepared when Riley backhanded him across the face. He stared at her, eyes going wide in anger, "Be careful, Riley. You wouldn't want to hurt me. I'm so very fragile." He mocked, then began striding away from her quickly.

"What are you talking about, Jonathan? I really don't understand you sometimes! Are you jealous, or what?" Riley shouted after him, but she didn't follow him. When he didn't answer, she turned with a grimace and started towards her classroom.


In the boy's bathroom, Jonathan stared into the mirror and examined his left cheek. It was a little red, but at least she hadn't left a handprint. He didn't know what she had to be angry at him for. She was the one dating that dope. He wanted to tell her that she deserved better, but the fact that some of Trevor's buddies were the guys that beat on up him every week was closer to actual reason.

What hurt him the most though, was that Riley had called their friendship a sacrifice for her; that she was teased because she spent time with him, defended him, and was his friend. She had cried that she hadn't a boyfriend because either it was thought that she was dating Jonathan, or nobody wanted to date the Scarecrow's sidekick. Jonathan suspected it was more of the latter. She had never once complained to him until now, never once even hinted that their friendship was a burden to her, and then Trevor comes along, and their years of friendship mean nothing.

She was mad at him?

Jonathan sighed. He turned on the faucet and ran his hands under the cold spray. He heard the bathroom door swing open, heard the footsteps on the grimy tiled floor, but ignored the person who was approaching him. The footsteps only stopped when they were right beside him, and he shifted away uncomfortably from the person who had entered his personal space. Keeping his eyes lowered, Jonathan quickly turned off the faucet and reached for the paper towel dispenser. Fingers twisting painfully in his hair brought him to an abrupt halt.

"I haven't had a chance to say hello to you this week, Scarecrow." Jonathan knew his voice without having to look at his face. Probably the worst of his tormentors, although it was hard to compare, Clay Walters had hated Jonathan since jr. high school. He was actually the one to be credited for Jonathan's nickname. Whenever Jonathan was assaulted, Clay was always there, either watching or doing the attacking himself. He led the rest of them, and whenever the circumstances were so horrible that they happened to be alone together, Clay would make sure Jonathan got a good beating then, too. He didn't need the others like they needed him.

"I heard your freak friend Riley's dating Trevor Bromahn." Clay's grip in Jonathan's hair tightened as he twisted and forced him to look at him. He laughed in Jonathan's face, and Jonathan held his breath to avoid breathing in the foul stink of Clay's.

"So what, we're just friends. She can date whoever she wants." Jonathan spat out angrily. It wasn't the truth, but he wouldn't give Clay the pleasure of hearing the actual misery it was causing him.

"I'm glad she's finally moving on from you. Now that she's dating Trevor she's not going to have time for a little freak like you. So tell me, how does it feel to lose your only friend?" Clay grinned at him, and Jonathan wanted nothing more than to wipe that slimy smirk off his face. Images flashed through his mind of Clay screaming in terror, his face contorted into an obscene expression of agony and fear. His fantasy was uninterrupted though, by a fist slamming into his jaw. He was propelled backwards and he felt his spine hit the edge of the sink. He stumbled away from Clay and brought his hand up to his face as if to shield it.

"I asked you a question." Clay gritted out angrily, stalking towards Jonathan again. Jonathan shrank into himself, humiliated but knowing he couldn't fight back. Clay grabbed his hair again and spun him around, and Jonathan let out a tiny groan of pain as he slammed him up against the wall, his head colliding against it with a sickening smack, "How's it feel!" Clay yelled. Jonathan grimaced as spit splattered on his face.

"I don't feel anything," Jonathan said, as calmly and as indifferently as he could. Clay's fist slammed into his gut, and Jonathan choked and doubled over, bringing his hands to clutch at his middle.

"Did you feel that?" Clay thundered. He stared at Jonathan, angry for a moment, and then his scorn turned into a smirk. He laughed bitterly, turned swiftly, yanked the door open, and strode out of the room.

Jonathan waited until the door slowly swung shut before sliding down the wall and sobbing quietly into his bent knees.