There were moments where she was sure he was deaf.
Something would be said; just any little something and then suddenly, his ears would switch off.
Noodle wondered just how 2D did it.
"Yeah, I remember walkin' my way to school!" Del cheered, floating just to the left of where Russel was sitting at the kitchen table. He and Murdoc had been talking about something. Then Del had appeared and ruined it, as he usually did. Russel was ominously silent, as he didn't like thinking about 'when Del was alive'.
"It was better than riding that fuckin' bus!" the ghost continued, slapping Russ on the back. "Man, Russ, you know what it's like to ride a school bus in Brooklyn. Aww, s'hell!"
2D and Noodle entered the kitchen on the heels of the man's comment. He turned on them for attention like a starved wolf.
"What about you two? Yeah? How was school for you two twerps?"
2D stared at him blankly, just like he hadn't heard, then continued on towards the fridge. Noodle, on the other hand, cocked an eyebrow.
"I do not remember," she confessed simply. Her lack of memories still disturbed her…and Del suddenly seemed to catch on that this was not a subject any of the band wished to talk about.
"I see how it is. Y'all got some of those messed up childhoods," he nodded sagely. "Well, a little group therapy never hurt no-one!"
Murdoc flicked the ashes of his cigarette in Del's general direction. "Shove it," he muttered.
"Hey, hey, you haven't said nothin' bout your past Muddy, ol' boy! C'mon, c'mon!" the ghost taunted.
"Shut up," the Satanist growled. "Brain-ache hasn't said anything either."
"But we know that D is fucked up," Del cried plaintively. He oozed over and enveloped Stu in his arms. "It's thanks to you, Muddy."
"Huh?" 2D wondered, intelligently. For some reason Murdoc was glaring at him and Del was hugging him, it was all very confusing.
"Hurry up an' go ta hell," Murdoc snarled.
Del made a face. "You lot are booooooooring, hoo-weee!" With that he fled back to the concave of Russel's mind.
"Your fucking house-guest is irritating the fuck out of me, Russel," Muds informed the percussionist.
"You know I can't do anything about it." Russ stood, looking entirely distraught, and then left the kitchen.
The proverbial black cloud was now officially hanging over Kong Studios. 2D was quite bewildered by it. He watched Noodle wolf down her food and then all but run from the room. Leaving him all alone with a peeved looking Murdoc.
It was stifling under his mismatched gaze…
"As much as I'd like to, I can't take credit for all your problems."
2D didn't seem to hear.
"You were already in your mid-twenties when I met you…"
Stu-Pot had been twenty-four, but that was beside the point.
"So, let's hear it, Brain-ache."
There was nothing, because 2D couldn't hear him.
If Mrs. Pot had ever come to tuck her son in without a bloodied face, Stu was not sure what he would have done. He probably would have screamed and run away from her, as she couldn't possibly be his mother. He couldn't remember ever seeing her without some kind of bruise.
Every night, Mr. Pot would beat her until she was black and green. Every night, Stu sat silently on the couch, watching the end of Asterix, chuckling softly as he outwitted those silly Romans again…The TV mostly blocked his mother's soft cries of pain. The show would end; Stuart would smile and shamble off to his bed where he would wait.
Invariably his mother would come. A bandage pressed to her brow, or a handkerchief held to her bleeding nose.
"Goodnight, Stuart," she would whisper with a smile. Sometimes her mouth was all bloody. She would kiss him on the forehead as she pulled the thin blankets over him and then she would go to the door. She would beam at him once more as she turned out the light, then the door was shut.
His father never came to say goodnight to him. He was already seven, far too old to have his daddy tucking him in…
He was obviously old enough to make breakfast in the mornings as well. His mother couldn't cook to save her life, so Mr. Pot had unceremoniously dropped the task onto his son.
Today was pancakes, two for Stuart…two for Momma…ten for Daddy. Fat bastard.
"That's a good boy," his father commended. "Not an idiot like your mother, hmm?"
Mrs. Pot remained sitting silently beside the man at the table. She smiled gently at Stu when he looked back at her and nodded her approval as well.
Stuart brought the steaming plate of food over to the rickety card table, which served as their kitchen table. His father made several more demeaning comments about his mother as he drowned the hotcakes with syrup and butter…
"Your mom spent too much time on her back when she was young. Didn't learn how to cook," he laughed. "I doubt her mom knew how to cook either! They were getting' it both about equal from her dad!"
Mrs. Pot kept her eyes on her plastic plate and said nothing. Stu pretended that he couldn't hear his father over the sound of his own chewing.
After Daddy was done eating, he would walk on over to the fridge and begin his chain of beers for the day.
Stu left the house to catch the bus to school at 7:15. He didn't know what happened at home while he was gone…but at some point his father would leave his mother alone in order to go to work. He worked down at the local fair, a shoddy little thing, but, if Mr. Pot kept on as he was, he would be running the whole place in no time.
Right now, he didn't make much money though, everyone could tell by the state of Stu's clothes. The other children at school liked to point it out to him quite often.
"You smell like a hamster," little Marla pronounced loudly.
Stuart didn't say anything…he didn't hear her.
She skipped along after him as he shuffled up the stairs into the elementary school. "There's a hole in your shirt too," she added.
Stu still said nothing and just went to sit in his seat and wait for class to begin.
When it did, he sat quietly in his chair and allowed the other children to raise their hands and be excited…because he certainly wasn't. Especially when, despite his best efforts to hide, he was called on.
"Come now, Stuart," Mrs. Greene said in her overly friendly voice, "tell us what six plus four is."
His dark eyes darted back and forth anxiously. The other children were all looking at him expectantly.
"I…it…" the boy stuttered. He knew the answer. Ten, his mind screamed but his mouth said, "eight."
The class broke into giggles and Stu slumped in shame. It was ten…he knew the answer was ten.
"Now, now, quiet down," Mrs. Greene said compassionately, "which one of you would like to give the correct answer?"
Stuart Pot sat there feeling shameful for the rest of class, until it was time for recess. He sat on the stairwell waiting to go back inside while the others played. He'd long since given up trying to play with them. He was smaller than the other children and they often took advantage of that. Hitting him too hard, throwing the ball higher than he could reach…
He waited out the rest of the day much the same way. He only went to school so he could go home again.
So the cycle could start all over again…he would get off the bus and walk home. His mother would greet him and ask him if he had any homework. If he did, they did it together and then would wait around until Father came home. Sometimes he wanted Stu to cook dinner, other times he brought with him a bag of greasy fast food. They would eat, Stu would go watch Asterix and about twenty minutes later the sharp sounds his mother made when she was being hit would begin.
The routine went on undisturbed…
He was ten when she left. Stuart Pot was ten years old when his mother finally walked out. Beaten one too many times without any reprieve in sight, she simply went to the door and that was that. Stu recalled vaguely that his father had shouted after her to come back, he didn't hear, and she didn't return. She walked to the bus stop without a backwards glance.
That night the little boy went to bed alone, literally. Daddy had left the house to go…somewhere.
He woke up alone as well…apparently his father hadn't come home…Well, Stu made breakfast and left a plate out for his dad. Then he went to the bus stop, steeling himself for another day of fourth grade.
"Hey, stupid, what's up with your shoes?" that little bastard Braxton called. Stu didn't hear him though. As there was nothing wrong with his shoes. Yes, the soles had been about to come off, but he had duct taped them back on. He walked past Braxton and went directly to class.
Pari greeted him pleasantly as he took his seat. She had moved into the school system a few weeks ago and it seemed they might actually become friends.
"How are you, Stu?"
"You first," he shook his head.
"Well, Brandon was at me again last night…I think he was drunk," Pari frowned. "But I managed to get in my room and lock the door, so he wandered off after a while."
She had confided in her new friend that her brother, Brandon, had been 'touching' her since she was very little. What their relationship lacked in length it made up in strength. Now she felt she could tell him when these things happened…
"If you want, you can come to my house after school?" Stu offered. "It's just me now, until my Dad gets home. That's not till late though."
"What about your mom?" She blinked curiously.
"She…left yesterday," the young fellow confessed. "I don't know if she'll come back," he shrugged uncomfortably. "Even if she does, I think she'd like you."
"I'm so sorry…" Pari murmured gently. "I'm sorry your mom left."
Stu said nothing because he didn't hear her.
Pari often accompanied Stu home afterwards. She was smarter than he was and helped him with his homework, like his mother used to. They would cook dinner together. Mr. Pot even met her and was quite pleasant to her. He was pleased his son had a friend, a female friend no less. He had almost begun to suspect the kid was a faerie.
That summer, between the fourth and fifth grade, Pari and Stu took up band together. That vacation was spent doing all sorts of jobs in order to pay for their instruments. They washed cars, mowed lawns, walked dogs, and bagged groceries…They were both intent on taking up the oboe, together.
As children grow older they grow crueler…so, whenever Pari and Stu were seen in public at their various jobs, their classmates pounced on them. They assumed they had to work because they were poor and teased them relentlessly about it…
Stu didn't hear them though.
He and Pari were so looking forward to their next year at school. It would be at a new middle school. They would be together and there would be new people. Maybe they would make friends within the band? They desperately hoped so!
After barely a week of school, Pari came in looking grim faced. Stu tried to ask her what was wrong but she shook her head.
"Later…" she mumbled.
He waited impatiently for the chance to talk to her. When they had a recess after lunch they walked out to the far end of the soccer field.
"The police came to the house last night, Stu…" the girl whispered. "They found some cocaine…Dad and Brandon are going to go to jail."
Stuart just stared at her. He had heard all sorts of horrible things about Pari's father and brother. He wasn't upset that they were going to jail.
"What about you?" he wondered.
When she looked up at him, her green eyes were filled with tears. "I'm goin' to live with my aunt in Bristol, Stu."
They were still on the tail end of summer, but Stuart Pot felt his blood run cold.
"Bristol? But that's so far away…"
"I know!" Pari sniffled and scrubbed ferociously at her eyes.
Stu immediately tried to soothe her. "It'll be okay, I'll telephone you when I can and send you letters!"
Her eyes were bright as she nodded. The bell rang for them to come inside, but neither of them seemed to hear.
She was gone in a week.
He never saw or heard from her again.
No one ever answered the phone.
His letters were never replied to, nor were they returned.
The children at school questioned him relentlessly about her disappearance.
'Was she pregnant?'
'Did she run off with her boyfriend?'
'Did she get sent to jail for drugs?'
Their horrible questions fell on deaf ears. Stu heard nothing but the dull silence of loneliness.
The other children eventually grew bored of asking questions about Pari. Questions they never received answers to. So they began to pick on Stu instead. He was the stupid, dirty, poor one. They were all better than him and, whenever they needed an ego boost, he was the one to put down.
They began new rumors about him, because they were easy to make.
He'd gotten Pari pregnant.
His mother was a whore.
His father trafficked drugs.
He was in a gang.
Stu heard nothing but the sound of his oboe. He attacked learning to play that instrument, and any other he could get his hands on, like a rabid dog.
It was all he had during those two wretched years of Middle School.
Then, gods above, then it was time for High School. Elementary School and Middle School had been rough enough for him. He could just image the agony of High School…
The vacation of 1992 was spent alone in his house (God knew where his father was)…listening to Warren Zevon, lying on the carpet of the living room while reading. He buried himself in the syrupy, saccharine, brain-candy worlds of P.C. Wrede, the reading level of the books never being much higher than the 5th grade. Why try any harder when he just wanted a distraction?
Just something to distract him until he had to enter 9th grade…It was worse than he had expected. The upper classmen were horrible to him and he received the least desirable mix of classes.
1st period – English I
2nd period – Biology
3rd period – Honors Geography (Why, God? He thought, Why?)
4th period – Algebra
5th period – Band
6th period – Journalism
That final one took the cake and he marched himself down to the office to have it fixed, hopefully, immediately. He arrived in the Guidance Office to find it overflowing with whining, complaining little children who hadn't been given all honors classes. The woman behind the desk, Mrs. Desoiner, explained to each in that soft gentle voice of a mother speaking to a retard, that the classes had been filled.
Stu, felt that, unlike these other children, he had a legitimate complaint and was more than willing to sacrifice his own place in his wretched classes for theirs. He approached her desk, but instead of being spoken to in that sweet maternal tone, he was given a form to fill out and told to return later, when he was summoned down to the office.
Feeling rather unimportant…he did as he was told. He wasn't even called until the very beginning of lunch. So, he reluctantly left his food behind and trotted down the halls. Perhaps he was secretly pleased? It spared him the trouble of trying to find a place to sit in the cafeteria.
Well, he met with 'his' guidance councilor. He was a very fat man whose name Stu never could recall no matter how much he tried.
"So, you have a problem with your classes, uhm…" The fat asshole had to look down at the paper for his name as well, "Stuart."
"Yessir," the boy murmured. "Y'see, they aren't at all what I signed up for."
"Well, you know, we can't give everyone what they ask for," the man rebuked.
"I know, sir," Stu frowned. "But I've got some honors classes and such that I just can't do."
"I think you'll be all right, you'll just have to be more motivated."
Stuart hung his head. "Well, sir, could you at least let me out of the Journalism class? I've really got no touch for writing."
"I'm afraid not, young man," Why was the man speaking to him so harshly? It was a perfectly reasonable request? Wasn't it? "We simply don't have anywhere else to put you. Now, you should get back to class, sounds like the lunch period is over."
Oh, with a heavy sigh, the young fellow obeyed.
He spent the last half of 4th block just about half asleep. Not that he missed much other than the obligatory: 'Students will come to class expekting to learn, participate, and give there best effort while doing quality work.' Had he been awake and looking at the sheet of rules before him, he would have wondered about the teacher's intelligence.
Then it was time for the one class he had signed up for and hoped to enjoy….and he was sorely disappointed.
A mostly deaf war veteran, by the name of Valentine, taught band class. Freshman band was more like an ROTC than an orchestra period.
After that point, Stuart wasn't even willing to fuck around with the Journalism class he hadn't even asked for. He vaguely remembered hearing something about how they would each be writing a piece in the school newspaper, but he didn't really hear it. He just wanted to go home.
At 3:15 the bell rang…he shambled to the bus. Got things spit at him…got off the bus…Dad wasn't home…went to his room…turned his music on…
'Ain't that pretty at all
So I'm going to hurl myself against the wall
'Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all'
"I WANT FIFTY MORE PUSHUPS FROM YOU PUSSIES!" Valentine screamed at the absolute top of his lungs. His poor band class was dripping with sweat and the room was permeated with hate. Really, truly, they despised the old man. Most of their time had been spent doing conditioning for when they marched. Fat lot of good it did them if they couldn't play the instruments! The school year was almost over and he had yet to give them one damn lesson! Many of the students had gone to complain to the Headmaster…but Mr. Johannes was helpless. Valentine had been there for almost sixty years; he couldn't just fire the old coot.
"ALRIGHT HIT THE SHOWERS YOU CHICKEN SHITS!" the crazy bastard yelled, as the period was finally about to end. Stuart limped back towards the classroom. Spring had sprung so they'd been forced outside…unfortunately. He'd tripped over his own feet and gone sprawling onto the track. His cheek was scratched, his body bruised, and his ankle thoroughly twisted.
And all he had to look forward to now was Journalism class. Thus far, he'd manage to wriggle his way out of ever having something put into the paper…but now…oh lord, now Ms. Lawrence was insisting. She'd given him some topic to write on, but he hadn't heard. If he had, he'd probably have found it boring. Either way, he had nothing. Every day, while the students were supposed to be working on their respective pieces, he sat there. Occasionally, he scribbled something onto his paper to make it appear as if he was working.
The final week, the day before they were supposed to send the final draft of the tabloid in for printing, Ms. Lawrence came to check on her least promising pupil's work.
"Stuart Pot!" She flustered. "What is this!"
"Huh?" he snorted stupidly, having not really been listening.
"Is this all you've written?"
Her face turned a fascinating shade of red and she trembled for a moment…then snatched up the piece of paper.
"Well, if that's all you have to show, then that's all you have to show!" She declared angrily, then stomped off to her desk.
The final day of school, the last newspaper was given out amongst the student body. There were all sorts of fascinating articles. There was one section entitled 'Urban Unrest in France' by a Junior boy and another by a Sophomore girl that was all about fashion. Then, there, in small print on the back page, in the bottom left-hand corner was, 'Poetry, by Stuart Pot'
Society dulling me to an empty void
Nothing more and nothing less than a toy
Filling in not what I think but what I am
My life, my vision is all but a sham
For us to point the finger at each other
For us to pass the blame to another
We are but fools living in this tropical waste
Empty and pitiful we like gypsies in the broken caravan
Free me from this wretched life?
Freshman year barely over, and Stuart was already dreading his sophomore year of High School. His life had become so fucking stagnant and he was isolated against all his attempts. People just seemed to naturally hate him for no reason. He was quiet, unassuming, and shy.
But he found a crowd that summer of 1993.
Admittedly a bad crowd, but that was the only kind of group willing to take him in.
He'd seen them loitering outside a restaurant near the music supplies store he went to. They'd called out to him, took him behind the building and offered to let him join their circle. Someone was already pulling a feathered roach clip from his or her back pocket and another was rolling a fat joint with deft nimble fingers.
Stuart had no backbone with which to decline. It wasn't as if the drugs were unpleasant anyways.
He spent those dog days in a drug-induced daze. Occasionally, his new group would take him to some club where they would prod him onto the stage for a bit. They usually had to get him very drunk before he would play anything or sing…but, when he did, people would toss money up at him. All of it went back into the drugs.
Time for school…Stu missed the first day. Spent it asleep in one of the guys' cars. But he did show up the next day. His schedule was so much more agreeable this year, all remedial classes in the core. For some strange reason though, he was in band again. He frowned at the piece of paper that had his schedule on it.
No. Description Teacher Room
1,2,3,4 1 28511.11 Health Sciubba 182
1,2 2 22771.12 Political Science Tolbert 344
3,4 2 2521.32 Earth Science Martin 328
1,2,3,4 3 93042.15 Band II Villereal BAND
1,2 4 5614.14 Computer Apps Daniels3 22
3,4 4 5910.34 Life Skills Dockery 164
1,2,3,4 5 N/A Lunch N/A CAFE
1,2 6 2712.26 Geometry Watkins 308
3,4 6 23021.46 English Townsend 181
Stu squinted at it a little. Villefort, huh? Maybe it was just a typo for Valentine? He supposed he'd actually have to go to find out…He sat through his first two classes, not really all there…then he made his way leisurely to the band room. When he got there, he saw a few people whose names he knew. He approached them hesitantly.
"So…who is this Villefort guy?"
"Dunno, he didn't show up yesterday, much like you, blue-hair. We had a sub." One girl, with very large teeth and blonde hair, said as she quirked an eyebrow at him.
The boy sighed internally and slunk off to find a chair in the back corner.
As the bell rang, one more person sidled through the doorway. The students were glancing around for their teacher…Who appeared to be that strange dark-haired man at the front of the class, writing his name on the board.
"Hello everyone," he called. Not brightly mind you, and not dryly. It was a perfectly normal greeting, thank you very much. "M'name is Mr. Villefort, sorry I wasn't about yesterday! I've just moved into town and I had to go find my belongings, as the driver got lost with them." He turned to face them, a wry smile curved to his lips. "I'm to be your new band director."
"What happened to Valentine?" Loraine called.
"Well, it seems that my poor Senior Mr. Valentine died over the past holiday."
"YES!" One voice could not be picked out, as almost everyone in the class had hissed it under their breath.
Mr. Villefort smiled pleasantly at them all. "Well, I'm to understand he didn't do a very satisfactory job as director…I hope to do better for you all. So, first, if we could, could we all assemble ourselves into sections? Percussion, flutes and such, yeh?"
There was a shuffle as the kids all picked up their instrument cases and headed to join others of the same.
"Good, good," the teacher murmured to himself. Once they'd all settled, he continued to speak. "I don't know what level we're all at, so I'm going to take one week to have, sort of, a little audition with the lot of you. Then I promise we'll get to some music. For now though, I'm going to call roll and have you tell me which instrument you play."
Stu sat uncomfortably amongst the other's who played the Oboe.
It turned out that amongst his fellow musicians, Stuart was one of the best. This didn't particularly surprise him. Music was to him what sports were to other kids…he'd let himself get a bit rusty over the past summer, but he could still play better than most of the others. Either way he was granted the first chair in his section and expected to help the others.
Most of the teenagers didn't really appreciate this, since they saw Stu-Pot as a stupid, dirty, loser, but, while Mr. Villefort was watching with his smiling blue eyes, they grudgingly accepted. They had to like their teacher. Compared to Valentine the man was a bloody saint.
Sophomore year of High School…Stuart absently wondered why he'd been so worried about it. He really shouldn't have been. What he should have been worried about was his home life.
For some reason, his old man had been bringing home a lot of women lately. Bimbos who probably couldn't spell their own name, but it really wasn't any of the Stu's business. For the most part he could ignore them, not hear their stupid questions about whether he still liked to go to the zoo like other little boys. He didn't really like ignoring them, they seemed nice enough and he worried his dad would beat them, like the man had beaten his mum. It really wasn't any of Stu's business though.
Nonetheless, it was pretty easy to ignore them, until he found out just why his father was suddenly taking such an interest in bringing his whores home with him. It was because he'd seen Stu's mom. She and Mr. Pot had gotten divorced by mail when their son was twelve and now she was back.
Married again to some guy and his Dad had seen her. Seen her because she wanted some visitation rights with Stu.
The boy had no problems with this, his mother had never done anything too horrible to him…other than abandon him, but he'd made out pretty well for himself, hadn't he? No, he had no problems with that at all.
During the week, he went to school, floated his way through his remedial classes, actually enjoyed Band, and then came home. At night, his dad would hang out with his main bitch, Emmie, in the kitchen. They drank and smoked a lot…Stu mostly avoided it.
Then, on the weekend, he took the bus into town and stayed with his mom and step-dad. The guy's name was Ron, but Stuart didn't talk to him much, so it didn't much matter.
It mattered even less when the asshole started hitting him. It stunned Stuart quite a bit. It wasn't that he was so dumb he didn't know what was going on, but it didn't make any sense to him. No one had ever hit him like that, just fucking maliciously for no reason. Even his jackass father had only beaten his mother! But Ron, he hit the kid and he hit him hard. He was yelling something about how Stu had left the radio on too loud last night?
The young fellow didn't really know, he couldn't hear him. He just cringed away as soundlessness engulfed him.
Ron had given it up after a bit and wandered off to the garage to tinker around with the cars. Stu got up and made his way to the bathroom to cleanup and wait for the former Mrs. Pot to come back from walking her horrible little Chihuahua, Mercedes.
"Mom," Stu said quietly, as she walked past the bathroom door on the way to her bedroom.
"Yes? Oh, Stu, honey, what happened?" she gasped, running a soft thumb over the curve of his bruised cheek.
"Ron went psycho, mum, he thrashed me."
"Oh, no, dear. He wouldn't do something like that." She was smiling and Stu was just staring at her. Had he not heard her right?
"He was raving about me leaving the radio on last night and beating me," her son insisted weakly.
"No, Stuart, you're wrong," she whispered. "You must have just fallen."
Then she turned away from him and closed the door behind her.
Stuart hurried and locked himself in his room for the rest of the weekend. When he got back to his dad's place…Mr. Pot and Emmie were sitting in the kitchen, not only drunk off their asses, but higher than kites.
More homebound strife when Emmie and the father finally got into it. The stupid woman wasn't particularly happy to find out that she may have been Mr. Pot' main but she was by no means his only. She was ready to leave, big breasts bouncing, and shapely ass shaking, but Mr. Pot wasn't letting another one slip through his grasp.
Stu came out one morning to see Emmie sitting on the couch, looking rather defeated with her busted lip. The boy just muttered a hello to her before he left for school.
It was his only sanctuary, sick as that was, a sanctuary where he could be tormented, but generally ignored. It was funny how that worked. He got called trash, moron, idiot, freak, loser, or some other descriptive, but unflattering thing, by nearly every person he walked past. Not that he actually heard any of it. He just kept walking, silent and head down on his way to his next class.
As the school year went by, he found he didn't even really need to show up to most of his classes. He still had his little group and he would meet up with them behind the school. They'd sit on the heating unit while they did their coke in fivers and passed a blunt around the circle…
After a while, the only class he was loath to miss was Life Skills. He couldn't even bring himself to care much about Band…But Life Skills. THAT. That was where all the chicks were. One chick in particular: Stephanie Le. She was one of those Asian transplants. She was exotic, beautiful, with those almond eyes in shape and color, shiny raven hair, and a big bright, white smile.
Stu mostly just stared at her. Who gave a shit about whatever Mrs. Dockery was talking about? He most certainly didn't. Stephanie's cleavage was far more interesting.
So now his days went something like this: Wake up, shower, think about Stephanie, avoid Emmie, go to school, think about Stephanie, maybe go to Band, maybe follow Stephanie through the halls, go to Life Skills, watch Stephanie closely, go home, avoid Emmie, think about Stephanie, go to bed, dream about Stephanie, wake up.
Even during the weekends, inbetween running and getting beatings from Ron, he thought about Stephanie. What could be done? The kid had a crush.
A rather disturbing one, considering even Miss Stephanie Le herself was well aware of his blatant staring and it truly made her lovely olive skin crawl.
Stu's crowd of druggie friends teased him, they were all in the different schools and even they heard the gossip. He usually didn't hear them, though, as he was usually busy taking a long drag off a fag or shooting up the occasional shot of heroin. He liked the rush but was rather needle-shy all considered.
But…once again…a needle was the least of his worries. Stephanie Le's big bruiser of a football-playing boyfriend was his real concern. He didn't like anyone, especially some trashy little band geek like Stu-Pot putting the moves on his girl. He took his classmate out back to have a talk about it.
Stu came back into the school after this talk in dire need of the nurse. He limped up towards her office just to find she wasn't there. The only person in the room was Mr. Villefort himself, shuffling absent-mindedly through some drawers for a band-aid. He turned when he heard Stuart's low uttering of pain.
He didn't make any comment on the boy's injuries…
"Well, hello, Stuart, I haven't seen you in my class in quite some time," Mr. Villefort said, still looking helplessly through the drawers in search of bandages. When he found them, he brought them over and started cleaning the kid up.
Unsurprisingly, Stu-Pot had nothing to say in response.
"We've really missed you," the teacher continued, "you're my best student." He continued to wrap the gauze around Stu's arm. "I've been wanting to have a talk with you. How about, once we're finished up here…you come back to the Band room and have lunch with me?"
Stu gave a noncommittal shrug that Villefort took as the closest thing to a yes he was ever going to get out of the boy.
Once in the band room, Villefort set out a nice lunch consisting of two sandwiches, and a soda, which he gave to Stu, content to drink the rest of his coffee for lunch. Stu, who hadn't had real soda in several months, was quite pleased. After a few moments of contented chewing from both parties, Villefort lowered his sandwich slightly, swallowed, and then inclined his head towards Stu.
"So, what caused that? Doesn't look like a paper cut," he joked lightly, which set Stu at ease somewhat. He'd been expecting an interrogation as payment for the free meal.
"Some guy thought I was hitting on his girlfriend," he replied after hastily swallowing his own food.
Villefort smiled, just a little. "The real reason I asked you here, Stuart,"
"Y'don't have to call me that…" the boy mumbled uncomfortably. "Stu's fine,"
"Of course," his teacher agreed. "The reason I asked you here, Stu, is because I'm looking for your opinion."
The young fellow just looked at him, rather unintelligently. "Opinion?" No one wanted Stu-Pot's opinion. He was a lackwit and a brainache. Why bother even talkin' to him when he could simply be pushed out of the way?
"Yes, you are quite a talented musician and I would value your opinion on the piece I've been writing," Mr. Villefort explained, hiding his grin behind his sandwich.
The man nodded and got up to his feet, heading for the piano at the front of the room. His stride was bouncing with excitement, and Stu just felt embarrassed. His cheeks were flaming as his teacher began to plink out several soft notes on the instrument. Then the room was filled with a fast rolling melody and the sonorous depth of Villefort's voice.
Stuart had no idea what the lyrics were…it felt like he'd gone deaf. It felt like he couldn't hear, but he could see the weaving of notes before him in a series of brightly colored lines, all flashing and moving erratically before his eyes in a complicated dance. He could barely focus on them. Then the song slid gracefully to an end.
"Well, what do you think?" Villefort asked. Stuart had to wonder if the man was making fun of him. It was lovely! How could the man think it was anything but?
"S'nice," Stu mumbled.
"You think so?" Villefort wondered with a frown, he glanced down at a piece of paper sitting on the piano. "I'm not very fond of this part here…"
It was replayed and Stuart found he agreed with his teacher. He got to his feet, leaving his sandwich and soda behind to look at the notes on paper.
"It's the F flat," he observed quietly, not entirely willing to put up his opinion any more than he already had.
"What would be better?" the teacher asked. He was thrilled. He could tell a troubled boy when he saw one and perhaps he could help him. Get him involved with something good and be a friend.
They worked together until the bell rang for 6th period to begin.
The next day, Stu edged around the band room at lunch, not quite sure if he wanted to go in or not, and he certainly had no plans to ask. Thankfully, Villefort soon appeared at the door, smiling at the boy.
"Glad to see you again, Stu. Would you like to come in?" he asked, gesturing to the room. Stuart said nothing, but walked into the room, eyeing the large lunch set out, it was obviously for two people. It covered the teacher's desk at the back of the room.
"Yeah…" he mumbled not feeling very certain about this at all. He rubbed nervously at a bruise on his upper arm. Stephanie Le's boyfriend had been leering at him the entire day and laughing.
"Good, I was hoping you would," Villefort reached out and grasped the boy's wrist, pulling him along gently and getting him to sit in a chair. Stuart shifted in the seat and cast surreptitious glances at the band director. He was confused by the man. He was nice.
No one had been nice to him since Pari, the thought of her made his chest constrict. Even his mother treated him horribly these days. As if…he were betraying her because Ron beat him. Nice wasn't something Stuart Pot was well acquainted with.
Now he watched Villefort carefully, took in everything he could, trying to understand. Did the guy really just want to be nice? Or was he doing that teacher thing? Feeling sorry for him or maybe trying to get close enough to catch him at the drugs? He watched the man smile, he had blue eyes and they crinkled at the edges with what looked like genuine delight. He ran an anxious hand through his dark hair, as if he was excited to see if Stu would like the food, if he would talk, if they could talk together.
But…once you can fake sincerity you've got it made…
"Have a better day today?" the man wondered, scooting a paper plate with crisps and a sandwich closer to his student.
Stuart knew what he meant and felt a light stirring of annoyance. Yes. He had, indeed, gotten the shit beat out of him the day before. Did he have to rub it in?
The tone of Villefort's voice quashed his anger.
"Yeah," he nodded, taking one of the crisps and putting it in his mouth, just to occupy it. He didn't have to try to talk if his mouth was busy.
"I was glad to see you in Band this morning," a smile quirked at the corner of his mouth, "you put the others to shame. How long have you been playing?"
Stu remembered filling out a paper at the beginning of the year that had all this information on it, but he felt compelled to answer anyways. "Since the fifth grade."
"You like it a lot then? I'm assuming you practice quite a bit?" Why was he so cheerful? None of this stuff mattered!
"Yeah…" the boy replied suspiciously.
"What other sorts of music do you like?" Villefort questioned around a bite of sandwich and a pull of soda.
"What sorts? I mean…all sorts," Stu floundered like a little fish, and then carried on. "Like Zevon, Mac, an' Floyd…all sorts."
"Me too, I especially take cues from those you named,"
The boy just stared at him, his brown eyes darting all over Villefort's face. "Yeah? I could…sort of tell."
"Could you?" his band director chuckled.
"Yeah, there's a bit of Floyd in that piece you played yesterday," Stuart confessed.
"I worked on it a bit more last night, at home," Villefort grinned.
They worked again until Stuart had run off to class. The common musical ground put the boy strangely at ease, Villefort noted. He hoped he could help his student become more and more comfortable with himself…Stu really wasn't a bad kid. The man looked over his song and the lyrics. Stuart Pot was pretty good, a little disjointed and unsure, but he was good. Villefort was actually looking forward to talking with the boy again next Monday.
"Have a good weekend, Stu!" he called as the kid was just stepping into the hall. Stuart paused, and then broke off running down the hall.
He wasn't looking forward to another weekend with Ron. Not when he was already beat up…he was sure Ron would find that really fucking funny…
Stu actually decided not to go. Saturday morning, when he was supposed to have gotten on the bus to go into town, he went off in the other direction. He made his way to one of his druggie friend's apartments. He thought the guy's name was something like Gerard…but he wasn't sure. All he cared about was not being around Ron. So, they got completely gacked, then went out for pizza to appease the munchies.
They met up with a few more of their gang…passed around some yellow jackets and white lady in the bathroom. Went out and started a graffiti run in broad daylight.
When the cops caught them, Stu was too high to notice or care. He just stumbled along as they shoved him into the car with a few of the others. Gerard was yelling and raising Hell about his rights, then told, quite plainly, to shut up and get in the car. He was spooked then and kept flailing around in the back, hitting Stu-pot a couple of times.
They were quite a sight at the station, sitting in their chairs. Stu looked like a corpse, Gerard looked like a mad man, one of the guys was curled up in a ball, sobbing…
This, children, is why we don't mix drugs.
"Pot!" one of the officers was talking to him. Stuart blinked, but couldn't figure out who he was. "Pot, hey!" The guy snapped his fingers in front of his face until he focused. It was Officer Braden who'd come down to talk to Mr. Pot a couple of times. "Kid, where are you supposed to be?"
"Me mum's…" Stu answered without thinking.
"Alright, I'll call up Alys," Braden murmured as he walked away. Stuart barely noticed. He stared at the ceiling blankly.
Ron showed up for him instead of his mom. Stu was entirely unaware of this until Ron had him outside and was wailing on him.
"So this is what you do? Your mother was worried sick when you didn't show up, you ungrateful little shit."
He shoved Stuart up against the brick wall and backhanded him hard across the face. The boy was just together enough to notice the blood running down his face…
By the time they got back to the house he was black and blue. Lip busted, nose bleeding, and one eye swollen shut. His mother cried over him, but Ron just told her that the boy had been in a fight…Stuart couldn't protest, his mind was a swarm of strange miscontingencies, angry disjointed sounds, and a hazy flurry of colors. His head swam and he somehow stumbled off to bed.
He woke up, Sunday morning, mournfully, not dead. His mouth tasted like carpet, his head felt fuzzy, and his various limbs sluggish. But, he was not, in any way shape or form, dead.
Stu could barely remember the day before and supposed that to be a good thing. Whatever had happened, he was probably in trouble now.
His mum was crying and Ron was shouting and his head ached miserably. Ron gave him a good smack but in the presence of his mother refrained from beating him bloody…again. They sent him up to his room and told him he wouldn't be allowed to leave until it was time to go back to his father's.
Stu just shrugged, he couldn't have possibly cared less. He collapsed onto the ancient bed with it's long-dead springs and went back to sleep, letting the hours slip away to the grave.
No one bothered to come wake him up until the next morning, his mum sat on the edge of the bed and stroked his lank hair. She was talking to herself, and then to him, and then herself again. She finally settled on addressing him, her words were gentle but the message accusatory. Like every bad thing in her shitty life was his fault…as if he held some blame when Ron beat him for no fucking reason.
He made a groggy sound and she finally ended her tremulous monologue.
"Don't come back, Stu."
So he didn't.
Monday he came into school bruised up, his bottom lip busted, and his right eye still a bit swollen. Everyone laughed. Stephanie Le's shit-head boyfriend even took the opportunity to beat him up just a bit more.
Some other kid would have gone and cried in the bathroom, slit his wrists, overdosed on pills. Stu didn't care enough. He wasn't entirely sure he could get deeper into the hole. His primary concern was keeping his mind off it. Someone slipped him some XTC out back and that made the day a little bit more bearable.
Until lunchtime, when he couldn't decide whether to skip the rest of the day or seek out Villefort. He wanted to slip into the comforting bubble of the band directors presence, yet he didn't want to see the look of concern that would invariably spread across the man's face. The deciding factor ended up being his hunger. He was starved and had no other means of obtaining food. So, with his head hung low between his shoulders, he sidled into the band room.
The look on Villefort's face made him want to vomit just from pure, bitter, self-loathing. This guy did nothing but be nice to him and Stu repaid him by making him worry about something as insignificant as himself.
"Do you want to tell me about it?" the teacher asked, his skyscape eyes nearly almost as expressive as the sharp downward pull of his full lips and the tug of pale skin over high cheekbones.
Stu-Pot shook his head. Sort of wishing he had some pot in order to live up to his idiotic and demeaning nickname.
His hand brushed Villefort's as the man offered him a bag of crisps. A shock went through his entire arm and it felt better than it should. That was why he didn't like XTC, it made everything, even mundane things like getting food, far more awkward than they needed to be. His mouth opened and he nearly asked his teacher for drugs, but somehow stopped himself.
It got worse when the man reached over, running his thumb over a crescent-esque bruise curving around the side of his face and his cheekbone.
"Were you fighting?" he wondered, like this was a suitable topic for a game of twenty-one questions and Stuart almost resented him for prying, but at the exact same stupid moment wanted him to guess right so he could finally tell someone and maybe someone would get it and things could finally stop doing that dull aching thing they always seemed to be doing.
"No," Stu murmured. "I don't fight…you should…" He didn't really know what Villefort should have done; he didn't know what he was trying to say at all.
"I should know that about you," the man finished. He withdrew his hand and Stu kind of missed the visceral comfort that his touch had offered. Villefort raked the hand back through his dark, neatly-combed hair, nervously.
The band room was big and quiet and the air was heavy and uncomfortable and suffocating and Stuart gorged himself on chips, just to be doing something with his mouth.
"Stu," the man began again, definitely uncertain. "Look, I…I'm going to give you my number and address. If you need my help…just…"
It was painful. It stabbed at Stu's head like a knife, because he did need this man's help. He knew that the next time the fridge ran out, or the next time his dad and Emmie got in to it and he knew that his mum would forgive him and bring him back and Ron would wail on him again…There was a circle that he was far too well acquainted with and he just didn't want to look at it anymore. It made him dizzy.
He nodded mutely and Villefort took that for what it was. He was used to the way Stu worked. He'd wanted to extend his hand for a long time now but it was just so…so…awkward. But it wasn't the kid's fault and it wasn't fair to just leave him when he was obviously helpless. Painful as pointing that out was.
Stu slipped the paper into his wallet and that was the end of it.
He had somewhere to go now…
Alys called for him two weeks later, blubbering with all the maternal love she'd completely failed to show him for the better part of his life. Ron sneered at him when they came to the house Saturday morning to pick him up. Mr. Pot didn't even notice he left and Emmie's sad little farewell didn't really mean anything to him at all.
Stu went with a new conviction, however. If Ron laid a hand on him he would leave, he would hide out in Villefort's apartment for the rest of the weekend the second Ron raised his fist.
It didn't take long, Stu couldn't decide whether the man was just ill tempered or if it was some stereotypical carry over from his Irish descent. Either way, Ron quickly found a reason, and a chance away from his mum's sight, to bash him about the head a few times. Then, when he wandered off, probably to get drunk or work on his bloody car, Stu went upstairs, grabbed his bag and walked out the door without a backward glance.
He waited at the bus stop several blocks up, took it across town until he was at the Fairview stop and then walked until he neared his teacher's division. He eyed the tenet list at the main lobby, found M. Villefort and took the lift up and that was pretty much all.
His knock on the door heralded his visit and Villefort was somewhere between surprised and pleased and worried to see him, especially when he took note of the large egg swelling up on the back of the boy's head. He procured some ice, ordering Stuart to hold it on the lump.
"I had hoped you wouldn't need me," the man confessed.
Stu smiled bleakly. "I knew I would."
Villefort seemed a little shocked by the admittance, probably wondering why Stu hadn't sought out help sooner. Probably wishing he'd offered to help much sooner.
"Well, if you need anything it's yours," Mr. Musician continued, motioning around his meager flat.
There really wasn't much to the place, cream carpet, beige walls, brown couch, tiny kitchen, one bath, one bed, a couch, a coffee table, and a TV. Well, probably, to Villefort, the most valuable item in the place was the piano that was dominating the better part of his common.
A good, a good, a good…piano can go, it can go, a long, a long way.
Stu smiled vacantly, almost as if he were on something, which he only wished he was. Suddenly, there was something that had to be asked, he looked his host, his savior, his friend, his fucking god at-the-moment, in the eye.
Blue on Black.
Tears on a river…push on a shove…it don't mean much…
Villefort was unsurprised, which was a pleasant change from the way their exchanges had been going.
"I could get you in a lot of trouble."
"Nothing worse than what you've already been through I expect?"
In some other world, that was the most romantic thing Stu had ever heard.
So, he quickly became Villefort's deadweight. Micah's. Micah. Micah. Micah. The man had told him his first name after the first three weeks. They practically lived together and Micah had decided their relationship had somehow transcended the formal necessities of student teacher.
They lived together and, generally, Stu didn't cause him any grief. Bummed around on his couch, ate his food, occasionally disappeared home, trying to pretend that he preferred it there and didn't like taking Micah's charity. But he did.
His clothes found their way to Micah's apartment.
A new dresser found its way to his clothes.
Micah's disapproving eyes actually had enough effect to make him want to smoke less.
Showered at Micah's.
Went to school from Micah's.
Spent all his damn time with Micah, pulling away from people who weren't really his friends, just his suppliers, enablers.
Helped Micah work on his fucking beautiful piece on the piano. Wrote lyrics, sung them, played them.
One afternoon, he had been paying a visit to the house, looking for a CD that had been lost somewhere in his room…A car pulled in out front and his mum and Ron came to fetch him. They dragged him back to their awful little house on the other side of town, the wretched little Chihuahua, Mercedes, yapping her fool head off the entire time.
The routine tried to instill itself, Ron smacked him a bit, but then Stuart escaped so swiftly that his mum and step dad weren't sure what'd happened.
Micah eyed his new bruises with disdain. He moved in one graceful fluid motion from his seat before the piano and went to get an ice pack. He joined Stu on the couch a few moments later, urging the soothing chill toward him.
He didn't need to ask what had happened, he understood Stu well enough to guess. He understood his student's sick, twisted family well enough and had a simmering hatred for them, which burned in the back of his throat.
Stuart, on the other hand, had an entirely different feeling. It was a warm adoration, a kind of hero worship…though…these feelings obviously did not apply to his family.
It was kind of a big stupid mess. He'd been smoking and he knew how much Micah abhorred it, but he did it anyway because, sometimes, he felt pathetic and worthless and he could have given Micah some money, like rent, but Micah would never accept such a thing, so, that just made Stu feel more pathetic and he always ended up buying weed, even if he didn't smoke it right away.
It was stupid, but Micah had these big full lips and he really was very nice. Kissing him was dumb and he wasn't a faggot. He was a lot of other really unpleasant things, according to his peers, but he'd never been accused of being a faggot before.
Micah did not, in any way, reciprocate his ill-advised kiss. Micah could taste the garbage on his breath and pushed him back with all haste.
He wasn't a faggot. "It isn't cause I'm stoned." His mouth was not connected with his brain. "'M not a faggot," he added, just to be sure.
"I didn't…Stu, it…"
"I know you don't like m' or nuffin. But you're real nice to me…"
What else was he supposed to do exactly? He didn't know. He didn't really think there was anything between liking someone and liking someone. They were either just your friend or you were fuckin' 'em and Micah didn't feel like just his friend.
"Stu," Micah sounded uncertain. Stu-Pot kind of hated when he sounded like that, because Micah was the foundation for his entire shitty little life and when he didn't know what was going on, neither did Stu. It became a blind leading the blind situation and, if that went on for too long, somebody went over a cliff.
"I'm sorry," the boy gasped out, suddenly full of some fucked up emotion that was kind of like rejection, only this was worse than Stephanie Le sneering at him after her boyfriend had beaten him up. It was worse than his mum walking out and leaving him alone with a dad who cared more about his next bitch than feeding his son.
Stu did not cry. He didn't cry about as much as he wasn't a faggot.
Micah still sounded painfully confused. "I, look, it isn't that…but this is…"
Inappropriate? Dangerous? Sick? Twisted? Enticing? Sinfully so?
So tantalizing because Stu was on the cusp of seventeen…
I am sixteen going on seventeen…
But he was only twenty-six.
But the rule was no one under half your age plus eight and…
Stu was not a faggot.
Misplaced adoration for the only good father figure in his life…?
Was he really a father figure?
Was he trying to rationalize something dangerous like accepting the affections of his sixteen year old student who was stoned and living with him because his parents neglected and abused him?
Wouldn't that be taking advantage of him?
Didn't Stu deserve better?
Didn't he just admit to caring for him in that way?
"Stu," Micah said, finally regaining some of his composure. "You've put me in a very difficult position."
The boy was quiet for a moment, even his usually loudly colored hair managed to seem more muted. His dark eyes gazed at his pale thin fingers, which were exceptionally good on the piano, and he was just…silent.
"I know," he muttered at last, looking back up and, with a tremendous force of will, held Micah's gaze. He didn't seem half as confused and uncertain and full of, mindless, teenage-hormone driven lust as he should have. His buzz had been killed by terror at rejection and now he was just…there. Offering something he shouldn't have, to someone who shouldn't take it.
Micah couldn't be sure whether it was genuine care or…or payment. He couldn't be sure which was worse. All he knew was, his only acceptable choice was refusal.
"I can't." His voice at least seemed conflicted and sorrowful, authentically so.
Stu's gaze dropped, its own special kind of conflicted and sorrowful.
At least it looked like he was giving up on that one insane and desperate notion.
Exactly three weeks later, Micah Villefort was settling in to sleep in his bed when he felt something warm and vaguely Stuart Pot shaped sliding into his bed alongside him.
Stu smelled like the shower and his mouth tasted like toothpaste, not that Micah tasted him on purpose. More that Stu was propositioning him with his tongue, clumsy and sloppy and it felt good and Stu wasn't high.
Apparently, he wasn't a faggot either. Though, Micah had no such qualms applying that descriptive word to himself. He taught high school band for fuck's sake.
And…he liked the kid, he loved the kid. What did the world want him to call it? What did the world want from him? When there was this boy who was kind and brilliant and everybody spit on him all the time and all Micah wanted to do was give him a place to come home to.
A house doesn't make a home.
And if Stu found that in him, more's the better.
"I'm not a faggot," Stu told him softly, his thin malnourished body really had not fattened up during his stay. "I'm not high," he continued. "And I'm not tryin' to pay you."
Micah didn't really like the way Stu was slowly destroying every defense he had against this. He'd always thought he'd had better control than this, but he'd never been confronted with a teenage boy who had fallen in love with him before.
Well, he'd only had twenty-six years…maybe, if he were older, he would have encountered this situation a few times before.
There's a first time for everything.
His name had never sounded filthier or more appealing to him before
He made a critical error.
Stu's grades were finally improving. That was all Micah could honestly say about the situation, because saying anything further would involve admitting to the fact that they…
He wasn't admitting it. Sometimes Stu gave him a weird look, like he didn't appreciate the shame Micah tacked on to what they had. Like he didn't want to understand that they were in the wrong and Stu was too young to get what love really was and that Micah was taking advantage of him.
Stu still smoked sometimes, going out in the middle of the night and coming home in the morning with dark smudges around his eyes.
All Micah could say was at least he didn't go back to his awful parents.
Actually, he shouldn't have said that. He should have realized that eventually they would care. Eventually, they would feel a sick indignation at having something that belonged to them stolen right out from under their noses.
Serious lapse of judgment.
The end of Stuart Pot's young tale spiraled down very, very quickly. There were times when he couldn't fully recall it himself, mostly because it was full of sirens and angry words and heartfelt declarations and a lot of guilt and burden and torment, to the point that his head shut down. He smoked some pot and his ears clicked off with an audible and deafening silence.
Could they pin him with kidnapping?
What about those neglectful parents?
Course they'd do better once that Villefort was in jail and their son was safe.
Actually, his dad didn't want anythin' to do with a fairy.
Neither did Ron and, of course, his spineless mum would listen to him.
What to do with the faggot?
He wasn't a faggot.
How about his uncle, Norm?
Far, far away from the sins of this city…
Put him to work, maybe he'll learn somethin'.
Four years. Of prison time?
Not at all. Micah had six years for a combination of second-degree statutory rape and the weed they found in his apartment, which he adamantly claimed was his own, so they he got some corruption of a minor thrown on top.
Stu had tried to speak, but everyone had smothered him. Ron with threats, his mum with tears, and his dad with outrage that some faggot band teacher had been buggering his son, passing on the disease.
The four years were Stu's own, trapped working at Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium until, what he expected would be, the end of his days.
Star employee because he had nothing else to do with his pathetic life.
He blamed Franz Kafka.
Star Employee because no one came in and he was high out of his mind on coke most of the time, easy going and sorta zealous in his work.
Murdoc Niccals saved/ruined his life.
2D really could not hear him. He was lost in a reverie, thinking about the picture Micah had sent him when he got out, a consoling, loving, all that bullshit—it hurt—message scrawled on the back.
He'd had to take a sexual deviancy treatment program and have a probation officer and…Micah said it was worth it but they'd never see each other again?
Murdoc cuffed him one across the jaw irritably and 2D blinked stupidly a few times.
"You've been sittin' there with your mouth hangin' open, dullard." The man grumbled, stubbing out his cigarette.
"I was thinkin'."
"There's a surprise."
2D shook his head tiredly and got up from the table. Murdoc caught his wrist and tugged, hard. The lyricist stumbled over his own feet, just barely catching himself on the table. He gave Muds a pathetic look, begging to be reprieved.
"You didn't answer me."
The choices were presented and it didn't take 2D much to decide.
"Murdoc? Hell will freeze over before I tell you a thing about me."
Murdoc beat the shit out of him obviously.