A/N. This idea was requested by Softball1515. I very rarely take requests but I loved the idea because it's a relevant issue in today's society and you all know how much I love writing about real life issues. I hope you all like it and that it gets you thinking! By the way, it was inspired by the song, 'Fighting to Survive' by Building 429. Please listen to the song or look up the lyrics. I don't own anything.
Fifteen-year-old Logan Mitchell cringed at the familiar voice and braced himself for the impact he knew was coming. He counted silently inside his head. Three, two, one-
A strong pair of hands gripped his shoulders and spun him around roughly then slammed him hard into his locker. For an instant, Logan saw stars. He blinked and shook his head to clear the fog. Slowly, a sneering face appeared in front of him. "Brad." He murmured faintly, trying to hide the trembling in his voice. Without turning his head, Logan's eyes darted nervously from side to side searching for someone who would come to his rescue.
"Your friends aren't here right now." Brad Avery grinned as the smaller boy found his gaze again. He craved to see that fear in the brown eyes. "You and me have a score to settle, Mitchell." The grin disappeared and he gave Logan another hard shove before withdrawing a single sheet of paper from his jacket pocket.
Logan winced as his back came in contact with the hard metal of the locker behind him for the second time in a minute. He tried to focus on the paper that his tormentor continued to wave in front of his face. "What is it?" He finally asked, confusion lacing his voice.
"What is it?" Brad repeated, watching as Logan shivered at the pure anger in his voice. "It's my grade for Mr. Hoffman's chemistry test last week."
"Oh?" Logan's heart dropped to the soles of his feet as everything became clear. He saw a big red 68% on the paper and understood the bully's fury. "Well, I told you that you shouldn't have tried to look at my test."
He wasn't wrong when he thought that Brad wouldn't fall for his poor attempt at a trick. "Yeah, you did. So what did you get, future doctor?"
It wouldn't do any good to lie. Look at where that got him. Logan gulped before answering. "I got a 100." He admitted, tensing as he spoke.
Brad gave him another shove, this one far more vicious than the previous two. He let Logan fall to the floor and kicked him in the ribs. "You stupid kid." He said harshly. "You told me the wrong answers, didn't you?"
"Yes." Logan hissed in pain as Brad's foot came in contact with his ribs a second time.
"Why?" Brad bent down and dug his fingers into Logan;s shirt collar, tugging him to his feet. "Were you trying to teach me a lesson, Mitchell?"
Too late, Logan realized his mistake. He nodded, deciding that from now on, if he lived past this experience, honesty was the best policy. "I thought you would stop asking me for answers if you thought I got them wrong too."
"Like you would get that many wrong." Brad laughed but there was no humor in the sound. "Do you know what happened because of this test? I'm suspended from the next three hockey games." He held up three fingers in front of Logan's face and then folded them together in a fist.
Logan tried in vain to duck the punch. His head snapped backwards and a cry escaped him. He slumped against the lockers, relieved when the hands that held him prisoner finally released him. "I'm sorry." He whimpered, helpless to say anything else.
"You're sorry? Is that the best you can do?" Brad took Logan's head in between his hands and held it that so Logan was forced to look him directly in the eyes. "You're going to pay for this." He threatened. "Just wait until practice later today." He gave Logan one last shove the sent him to the floor and then turned on his heel and stalked off.
Breathing heavily, Logan climbed slowly and unsteadily back to his feet. His head and his ribs ached. A glance around the empty halls showed him that Brad had gotten away with beating him up. "Again." He muttered to himself, wincing at the pain talking caused him.
The boys' bathroom was only a few yards away and Logan ducked inside to take an assessment of his injuries. He was relieved to see that Brad's fist had only made a small bruise on the left side of his face that was only noticeable under close inspection. But the rest of him hadn't been so lucky. He slowly lifted his shirt and gasped.
His chest was pale except for one large ugly bruise that colored him in black and blue and purple. He brushed it carefully and nearly cried out at the pain that the light touch brought. He knew that at least one of his ribs was broken.
The problem was getting serious now. Before, Brad and his sidekicks, Jack and Roy, had done minimal damage. However broken ribs were serious and Logan knew that he should tell someone before it only got worse. But he didn't even consider that possibility because Brad's daily words to him were always present in his mind.
"If you tell anyone, I swear I'll kill you. If not you, then your stupid friends."
There were times when Logan didn't really care if Brad killed him. At least he wouldn't hurt him any longer. But the threat against Kendall and James and Carlos scared him to death and he wouldn't risk their safety for anything. They were all he had.
The bathroom door opened and Logan hastily pulled his shirt back down, making sure that the bruises underneath were completely covered. He turned to see who had come in and couldn't help but smile. "Hey, Carlos."
Carlos gave him a huge smile in return. "Hey, Logie." He joined Logan at the sinks and ran his hands under the faucet. "There was a bird in our classroom." He explained to Logan's questioning look. "I caught it and let it out the window. But Mrs. Hamer wanted me to wash my hands."
"Oh." Logan laughed and nodded. "I get it."
"Yup." Carlos said cheerfully. "Ready for practice today?"
Logan couldn't stop the look of apprehension from crossing his face and tried to mask it before Carlos could notice. "Of course. What about you?"
To his dismay, Carlos' smile disappeared in exchange for a frown that looked out of place on the usually cheery face. "Is everything okay, Logan? You don't seem to excited about practice."
He had the best friends in all the world but sometimes Logan wished they didn't know him so well. "I'm a little tired." He said, feeling horrible for lying to Carlos. "But I think I'll be ready later on. You know?"
Carlos nodded and for a moment, Logan thought he had him convinced. But as he turned to go, the light reflected off his face, bringing the bruise to Carlos' attention. "Logan, what happened?" The younger boy demanded with a gasp. Without bothering to dry his hands, he placed them on Logan's shoulders, the water quickly soaking through the material of his shirt.
"What?" Logan asked nervously, frantically wracking his brain for an excuse. "We played dodge ball in PE today." Another lie and a third one followed right behind. "I got clipped."
"Are you okay?" Carlos relaxed his hold but he was still concerned. "Who did it? They didn't hit you on purpose did they?" There was a trace of anger in his voice. Carlos very rarely got angry but when he did it usually had something to do with one of his friends.
Logan laughed because Carlos' question was actually close to the truth. If Brad had the same PE class as he did then it would be exactly right on. But thankfully that wasn't the truth. The laughter died when Logan looked at Carlos and remembered that he did have PE with not only Brad, but Jack and Roy as well. "No of course not. It was an accident. You know me and dodge ball."
Carlos allowed a tiny smile to lighten his features but that was all. "Did you go to the nurse?"
Logan couldn't lie again. "No." He said honestly. "But it's no big deal, Carlos. Really." He gently shook off Carlos' hands and reached up to touch the bruise. "It looks worse than it actually is. I promise."
At last, Carlos looked convinced. "Well, you're the doctor." He said with a light laugh. "But seriously, I'm glad you're okay, Logie" He drew Logan somewhat roughly into a one-armed hug.
Logan bit his lip hard to keep from crying out. The pain that blasted through his ribs brought tears to his eyes and he hurriedly blinked them away before Carlos could see him. "Thanks, Carlos. I have to go to class. I'll see you after school at the rink okay?"
"Yeah, I have to go to PE now." Carlos remarked with a grimace, missing the fear that flashed in Logan's eyes at the mention of PE. "I'll see you."
Logan watched as Carlos bounded out of the bathroom, letting the door fall shut behind him with a loud slam. He sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair. Carlos had PE with Brad and Jack and Roy. Even though Logan had kept silent over his problem he wasn't entirely confident that the bullies would keep their end of the bargain. There was nothing he could do about it though. He couldn't exactly warn Carlos since that would only end with Carlos asking why he was so concerned and not letting him go until he knew the truth. And then. . . Logan shuddered. He could only hope that Brad would save his wrath for later in the day.
Logan got his wish. He sighed in relief when he saw Carlos walking with James and Kendall, hobbling along in their hockey skates to the rink. He lifted a hand in greeting and hen skated over the ice to meet them halfway. "Hey, guys." He greeted them.
"Logan," Kendall observed. "You're early."
He had arrived at the rink ten minutes before anyone else so that he could change in the locker room alone so that his bruises remained a secret. He was still thinking of what he could do about leaving. "Yeah I came here right from school. It's closer and my dad's away on business."
"Again?" James spoke up, a scowl darkening his countenance. "I thought he just went away."
"He did." Logan said with a sigh. "He's been busy lately." For once he was grateful for the lack of attention his father gave him. It meant one last person he had to worry about discovering his secret.
"Well, you could have called me for a ride." Kendall pointed out gently. "Your house is on the way to the rink from my house."
"I'll remember that." Logan told him brightly. "Thanks, Kendall."
The conversation was brought to an abrupt halt by the coach's shrill whistle and the four friends quickly skated to the center of the rink, joining the rest of the team. Coach Jordan Smith was twenty-eight-years old, whose professional hockey career had ended in his promising rookie season thanks to a cheap shot from an opposing player. He harbored no bitterness though, saying that it didn't change anything. He simply accepted where he had ended up, teaching high school hockey. He was a favorite among players and parents alike.
"Okay, boys." Jordan smiled at the energy around him. "Let's have a scrimmage. Odd jersey numbers against even."
Logan barely stifled a groan as he glanced down at the number 5 on his jersey and then at the 8 on Brad's jersey. As if reading his mind, the other boy smirked careful to hide the look so that only Logan could see it.
"Sweet!" Carlos exclaimed, giving James a high-five. "You and Logan are going down, Kendall."
Kendall smirked and nudged Logan, somehow all of them missing the pain in their friend's eyes. "We'll see about that right, Logan?"
"Right." Logan forced another smile and waited for the fire in his ribs to die down before he moved off to the side where his scrimmage teammates were. "Losers buy the winners a new set of hockey pucks." He called over his shoulder.
"Are you okay, Logan?" Kendall's concern caught Logan off guard because he was sure he had hidden his discomfort from everyone. "You seem kinda stiff today."
"I'm fine, Kendall." Logan insisted. "I'm a little tired but I think it's probably just a cold if anything."
"Okay." Kendall relented somewhat unhappily but brought his focus back to the center of the ice where Jordan stood, a whistle firmly set between his teeth. He and Logan and the rest of the team tensed for the signal.
Then they were off, each team fighting for the puck. In the rush, Logan forgot all about Brad and his earlier threat. He had always been one of the fastest players on the ice and before anyone knew it he had quickly gained control of the puck and was skating quickly to the goal.
James was fast too and on the other team. He reached Logan first and forced him into a corner and then checked him gently. They weren't supposed to check very hard in practices and scrimmages and James' check on Logan was even lighter than it could have been. But the pressure on his injured ribs was painful and Logan went down hard.
"Logan!" James instantly dropped down besides his fallen friend, disregarding the fact that Jordan hadn't noticed them yet and the game continued on without them. "I'm so sorry, are you okay? I didn't mean to-"
"James," Logan stopped his friend by taking his arm and giving him a slight shake. "Calm down. I'm fine. You just caught me off guard I guess. I should have been more prepared." He gritted his teeth against the pain. "Help me up, okay?"
"Everything okay, boys?" Jordan called to them as he skated over. The game had stopped and Kendall and Carlos were right behind their coach.
"I'm okay." Logan insisted, not daring to look at Brad who watched the whole scene with a smirk on his face. "I wasn't ready for James' hit."
Jordan nodded. "I guess it's a good thing this wasn't a game then." He clapped a hand on Logan's shoulder, forcing the boy to look at him. "Be more careful out there, okay Logan?"
Logan nodded too, feeling his face turn bright red. He knew that his coach wasn't criticizing his play because it might cost them a goal or even a game. He was simply concerned for his safety. "I will. Thanks, Coach."
The team skated away with the exception of Kendall, Carlos and James who stayed behind with Logan. Kendall watched both James and Logan with concern while Carlos looked like he was beginning to doubt Logan's insistence that he was fine. James, to Logan's irritation, looked guilty. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, James. Really, stop worrying so much. You didn't even hit me that hard." Logan glanced over at Brad, hating that the older boy was the real cause of his injuries and James was blaming himself.
When he finally had everyone more or less convinced that he really was fine, Logan skated to the center of the ice to take his position. He saw Brad take his place directly opposite him and shivered. He knew that whatever Brad had been threatening was coming.
The whistle sounded and Logan quickly took control of the puck and skated toward the goal. He thought it was odd that Brad had given up the fight so quickly. He was a better player than that. However, seconds later it all became clear and Logan realized what was going on. Before he could do anything about it, Brad was right on his heels and Jack and Roy on either side of him.
He decided that he could at least go out with a bang and gave the puck a hard shove with his stick. He never got to see if it went in. Jack and Roy came at him from both sides and Brad hit him hard from behind, knocking him to the ice. Pain radiated throughout Logan's entire body and he couldn't hold back a cry as he fell.
The pain made it hard for Logan to notice anything else that was going on. He heard different voices coming from all around him but he couldn't make sense of their garbled words or who was even talking to begin with. He tried to take a deep breath and nearly blacked out right then and there as his aching ribs protested the movement. Something else was hurt too. His left arm felt heavy and cold. It felt wet too. Logan glanced over at it, feeling suddenly dizzy.
Blood coated his sleeve and pooled out onto the surface of the ice. He gritted his teeth and tried to lift his arm but it was no use. It was broken, he realized. Broken. It had to be. It was also bleeding a lot. Logan couldn't tell if he was cold because he was laying on the ice or because he was losing so much blood. He bit his lip and looked again at his arm. It was a lot of blood.
Then his view of his bloodied and broken arm was obscured by Coach Jordan's face. Logan saw the older man's lips moving and he knew that he must be saying something to him, wanting a reply. "What?" He finally asked. "What 'smatter?" His words were slurred and it scared him.
Obviously he wasn't the only one who was scared. Logan saw Kendall's white face and then felt the older boy take his right hand and squeeze it. Kendall could hardly stand the sight of blood and it touched Logan that he was overcoming his fear to try and comfort his fallen friend. "K-Kendall." He stuttered out.
"Hey, Logie." Kendall took of Logan's helmet and propped him up so that his head was off the ice.
"Logan, how many fingers am I holding up?"
Logan stared at his coach's hand, wondering why he was waving it around so much. He blinked, trying to concentrate better. "Three?" He guessed. He saw Kendall's face go even whiter if that was possible and he heard his usually soft-spoken coach mutter a curse word. "W-was I wrong?"
"Just a little, Logan." Carlos. Carlos looked ready to cry. He was so scared. Carlos should never be scared or cry.
"Just relax, Logan." Coach Jordan's voice was back to it's normal and gentle tone. "Sammy is calling for an ambulance."
"They'll be here soon." Sammy, the coach's ten-year-old nephew flew up to them, breathing heavily. "Is he okay, Uncle Jordan?"
"How're you feeling, Logan?"
"My arm. . ." Logan whimpered when his coach gently touched the injured arm. "My head and. . . my ribs."
"Kendall and Carlos, go get James."
Logan was confused by the order and Kendall and Carlos looked reluctant to leave him. But nobody ever questioned Coach Jordan's orders and after giving Logan reassuring smiles, they left to retrieve their other friend. Logan didn't have time to miss them before Sammy took Kendall's place, holding his hand.
The little boy's voice was full of fear and Logan wanted it to go away. "M'fine, S-Sammy." He only succeeded in scaring the poor kid even more when he practically had a seizure trying to talk.
Sammy nodded his head rapidly, clearly not believing the older boy. He own father, his uncle's brother, had died when he was two and he had practically grown up at the rink with his uncle and had formed a close bond with most of the team. He snapped his head up and grinned in relief. "Help is here." He announced to Logan.
"S-so cold." Logan had wanted to say something else, something that wouldn't make the coach yell at the EMTs to hurry even more. Something that wouldn't bring tears to Sammy's eyes. But he was cold. He was freezing. And tired. So tired.
"Stay with us, Logan." Coach Jordan hardly ever yelled but he was yelling now. "Stay awake, okay?"
"I'll t-try." Logan managed a feeble nod that nearly led to him losing consciousness. He probably had a concussion. That was why his head ached and why he couldn't really concentrate enough to see correctly. That was also one of the reasons he was so tired.
A jacket covered him suddenly and Sammy was talking to him. Logan couldn't make sense of any of the words but the boy's senseless chatter kept him awake as the EMTs quickly scanned him and then loaded him on a stretcher. It helped too when James and Carlos and Kendall returned and started talking to him.
Logan didn't remember much about the ambulance ride except that for some reason the EMTs insisted that James would ride with him. He remembered that James' voice sounded odd, not just because he might have been crying, but for some other reason that Logan couldn't quite figure out. He didn't remember arriving at the hospital because he had lost consciousness halfway there.
The next thing Logan knew was the familiar sound of James and Carlos arguing and Kendall telling them to shut up. James' voice sounded funny and Logan pried open his heavy eyelids to see what exactly was wrong with his friend. "What happened to you?" His own voice scared him. It sounded weak and hoarse and not at all like it was supposed to sound.
Kendall's annoyed look melted away into a relieved smile. "Welcome back, Logan! How ya feelin'?"
"I've felt better." Logan replied honestly. "How bad?"
"Broken arm, you lost a lot of blood but not too much, concussion, and three broken ribs." Carlos recited from memory.
"Is James okay?" Logan sat up cautiously so he could see James better. "What happened?" He gasped.
James' nose was swollen and black and blue and taped up. He scowled slightly and then winced as the bandages stretched uncomfortably. "I broke my nose."
"I can tell." Logan eyed the bandage that gave everything away. "But how?"
"After Jack and Brad and Roy hit you I went after them." James told him as if it were the most obvious thing in all the world.
"By yourself? Three against one?"
"Look, he can still do math!" James grinned at Kendall and Carlos whole both rolled their eyes. "Yeah. See, Kendall and Carlos went to make sure you were okay and I. . . I was just so mad that I didn't think. Besides, I was only by myself for a few seconds because the other guys jumped in." James fingered his nose gently. "Brad and Roy got in a few good swings though."
"What about Jack?"
Kendall shrugged. "He seemed kind of in shock that you were hurt that badly. I don't think he meant it to be that bad." Then he frowned. "Logan, there's something I don't understand."
Logan shifted in the hospital bed, sure he knew what was coming. "What's that?" He asked to buy time.
"You. . . you didn't get hit hard enough to break three ribs. At least that's what the doctors said. What happened?"
"Nothing." Logan couldn't think of a lie quick enough. "I just. . . I can't tell you."
"Logan, we're your best friends!" Kendall exclaimed. "Your dad is on his way home by the way. It's actually a good thing that he was away because he could have been accused of child abuse."
Logan's mouth fell open. "But that's crazy! My dad has never touched me!"
"We know that and you know that but the doctors don't know that. All they know is that you recently broke three ribs and that it wasn't from hockey practice." Kendall folded his arms across his chest and glared at Logan. "Who hurt you?"
"If you tell anyone, I swear I'll kill you. If not you, then your stupid friends."
Tears blurred Logan's eyesight and he looked down. "I fell." It was a lame lie and it was also pointless because he knew that no one would buy it for even a second. He shook his head, still intent on avoiding their gazes. "I can't."
Before Kendall could protest again, the door opened and Jack walked slowly in. Instantly, James and Kendall and Carlos tensed and stood defensively in front of Logan. But they relaxed slightly when they saw the broken expression on the other boy's face. "What do you want?" Kendall asked warily.
"Logan, I'm sorry." Jack blurted out, his voice shaking. "I didn't mean for things to go so far, I. .. I just.. . I'm sorry."
"Why?" Kendall asked.
"Sit down, Jack." Logan advised when he saw that Jack looked slightly unsteady on his feet.
Jack obeyed Logan's instructions and then took a deep breath. "The only reason I picked on you was because Roy and Brad would beat me up if I didn't." He rolled up his long sleeve shirt to reveal fading bruises up and down his arms. "I was scared." He admitted. "They told me if I didn't listen to them or if I told anyone then they would kill me."
"That's what Brad told me." Logan said softly. He heard his friends' gasp at the news and flinched. "That's why I never told anyone." He turned to Kendall. "Brad beat me up earlier at school today. I think he broke my ribs then."
"I was wrong to hurt you." Jack said quietly. "You could have died today." He sniffed and swiped at his eyes with his sleeve. "I talked to the police just now. I told them everything."
"That was really brave of you, Jack." Carlos said gently.
Jack snorted. "I should have done it a long time ago. It was cowardly of me to keep quiet and go along with Brad and Roy for so long."
"Yeah but I don't think anyone can really blame you if they were threatening your life." Kendall shook his head. "Still, I wish you two said something at the start. "Logan, how long has this been going on?"
"Four and a half months." Logan answered quietly, hating the hurt that he saw in his friends' eyes.
"Jack?" Kendall questioned. "How about you?"
Jack was silent at first. "Since middle-school." He finally admitted. "Every once in a while they get bored with beating up the smaller kids and they turn on me." He pulled a sleeve up again and fingered one of the yellowed bruises. "These are from almost a week ago."
Carlos could only stare at the two bullied boys. One of them had been his best friends since they were six and he had only just found out that he had been tormented for four and a half months before things got out of hand. The other boy he had thought of as a bully since seventh grade, only to discover that it was because his life had been threatened. "Have they always been threatening you so badly?" He asked Jack.
Kendall shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. "I can't imagine anyone our age saying they would kill someone else and meaning it. And they were even younger when it started. Why. . . why didn't either of you go to an adult?"
"Because," Logan sighed. "It may sound easy, Kendall. But when someone has you backed up against a locker with no one around and then they tell you that if you squeal on them they're either going to kill you or your best friends. . . it complicates things."
"We should have known then." Carlos said sadly.
But Logan shook his head. "Why and how should you have ever known? I never gave you any reason for you to believe something like that. I lied to you. I'm sorry I lied. I didn't know what else to do."
"And I'm sorry for everything, Logan." Jack apologized again. "I don't blame you guys if you don't forgive me because no matter what way you look at it, I was wrong. I should have stood up to Brad and Roy-"
"Not if it meant your life." Logan interrupted. "You were trapped. We both were. And I do forgive you because in the end you did what was right." He looked concerned as he spoke. "What's going to happen to them?"
"Brad and Roy?" Jack shrugged. "I don't know. This isn't their first offense. They got caught for some little things like shoplifting and vandalism. It might all add up to some time in juvenile detention. They'll probably get expelled from school though and I know that they got kicked off the team."
Carlos brightened. "Really? Well then you guys should be safer, right?"
Before either Logan or Jack could respond, Kendall spoke up. "Of course they'll be safer." He said firmly. "We won't let anything happen to them."
James nodded and put a hand on Jack's shoulder. "We mean you just as much as we mean Logan." Then he sighed. "You're not the only ones though, are you?"
"I think a lot of kids get bullied in front of everyone and no one say anything because they're afraid of getting hurt too." Logan said honestly as Jack nodded. "But if everyone that doesn't bully say something. . . many it'll do something. I don't know."
"Well, I guess we'll find out." Carlos said optimistically. "Don't worry, Jack. We got your back." He laughed a little at the unintentional rhyme but sobered quickly. "We promise."
"Why?" Jack seemed confused. "I beat up one of your best friends-"
"You were just as much a victim as Logan was." Kendall told him. "Probably even more so since it was going on for so long. Okay, I'm not too thrilled that you went along with Brad and Roy even if they were scaring you. But what counts is that you did the right thing in the end. That took a lot of courage. In fact. . ." Kendall frowned. "Jack, did you get kicked off the team or expelled from school too?"
"I got kicked off the team." Jack admitted. "Coach wasn't too thrilled with today's stunt."
"Did you tell him everything?" Logan looked upset.
"Well, then tell him." Kendall insisted. "That's not right, Jack. You were stuck in your own situation. At least tell him what was going on. We'll all vouch for you."
For the first time since he had arrived, Jack smiled. "Really? You guys would do that for me?"
The four friends nodded simultaneously. "We promise." Carlos said. "You deserve a second chance."
"Thank you." Jack said gratefully. "That means a lot. Hockey is. . . everything to me. The rink is the only place I feel at home."
"Well, I hope you can feel at home with us too because you're stuck with us." Logan held out his hand for Jack to shake. "Let's start over." He felt the burden ease from his heart when Jack took his hand and shook it in friendship. He knew that he would no longer have to worry about Brad and Roy and it made him even happier to know that Jack was free from their torment as well. Now maybe they could all make a difference from this lesson. Things were beginning to look up.
A/N. Well, that's the end. Any type of bullying is wrong. There's no excuse. It's never okay to call someone names or beat them up because they're different or because you "feel like it". If you are one of those people, you should be ashamed of yourself. We're all human. We're all the same. Also, if you are being bullied in any way or if you see someone being bullied, then please don't stay silent. Speak up, speak now, speak loud. Save a life. Make a difference.