Chapter 10: Lone Wolf

"Alright, are you ready to leave?" Mike asked Lucy as he wrapped the scarf he was holding around his neck.

"Yeah," Lucy said back to him.

"Alright, well, let's get out of here then." Mike said as he walked over to grab his backpack.

Mike left his room, Lucy following suit, and they both headed downstairs. When they reached the bottom, Lucy followed Mike into the kitchen where she saw his family all sitting down for breakfast.

"Alright mom, we're leaving." Mike said to her.

"Michael, you know I said you could take the day off if you wanted too?" His mother asked, surprised her son wasn't jumping at the opportunity.

"Uh, yeah, I know. I just… I just don't want to miss anything." Mike answered.

"I know, baby, but don't you want to get some rest? You look exhausted." She asked with a concerned tone.

"No really, I'm fine." Mike responded.

"… Are you positive? I know you've been really stre-" His mother began.

"Yes." Mike said with his teeth gritted. There was a lot he wanted to say, but not in front of Lucy, not now.

"Alright, alright, suit yourself." His mother responded quickly giving in. "At least let me get you both something to eat?" His mother asked.

"No thanks mom, we really need to get going so we're not late for school." Mike answered. Lucy secretly couldn't help but wish he had taken her up on the offer, since she was quite hungry, but she didn't feel quite comfortable enough to say anything.

"Well," His mother started as she reached in a cabinet and pulled out a small cardboard box. She then pulled out a small piece of plastic, opened it up, and handed them both an uncooked, toaster pastry. "At least eat this. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

"Uh, thanks." Mike said taking the toaster pastry with little enthusiasm.

"Thank you very much." Lucy said nodding to Mike's mother accordingly.

Although deep in my Mike's subconscious he knew that his mother acting like this wasn't really all that odd, he couldn't help but feel she was doing it because of his cancer, as if she didn't want him to take the day because of he was tired, but because he was ill. Like he needed to eat to keep his strength up, because eating a toaster pastry would make him live a little longer. Then again, he could hardly classify the way things were as 'living', it felt more like waiting. Whether it was her over motherly nature, or the consistent offers for him to take the day off, Mike couldn't help but feel this was her way of taking pity on him, and he didn't want pity. He didn't want people to treat him differently, or to act differently in his presence. He just wanted… to be.

As they left the kitchen, Lucy took a large bite out of her toaster pastry, as Mike's mind continued to gestate forth observations fueled by his doubts, worries, and denial. He was picking up on extremely subtle things, such as his sister. Normally, if he had a girl spend the night, she would have heckled him quite wholly, but she had said nothing, and Mike knew she had held her tongue simply because of the recent diagnosis. He knew from the minute he gotten the diagnosis that this was going to happen; he was going to become a plague slowly killing everything around him.

He looked over at Lucy as she ate her toaster pastry with enthusiasm. She seemed so happy. She still had that negative vibe about her, but for the most part, she seemed content. But why was she so 'content'? Mike couldn't help but smile to himself. Maybe, just maybe, he wasn't quite the plague he thought he was.

"Bye mom!" Mike yelled as he held open the door for Lucy, his good mood slowly returning.

"Bye, honey! Have a nice day. Oh, and you too, Lucy!" She yelled from kitchen.

"I will, and thanks for having me over!" Lucy replied back to her.

"Anytime," Mike's mom replied with honest sincerity. As long as it made Mike happy, she didn't care. All she wanted was to see him feeling better.

"I bet they're in there talking about me and Lucy right now." Mike thought to himself, referring to his mother and his sister. "I wonder what they're saying… I bet 'sis is having a great time thinking about what me and Lucy did last night. Probably even having more fun putting images into mom's head, images of us laying together, cuddling, maybe rubbing against each other… kissing each oth-"

"Your mom is nice, as usual." Lucy said breaking Mike out of his trance.

"Oh, um, yeah, she is. Hey, you want this? I'm not going to eat it." Mike said offering Lucy the toaster pastry.

"Yeah, sure." Lucy said gladly taking the slab of dry food.

"Are you sure you aren't hungry?" She asked, moments before biting in to it. As she suspected, Mike declined it. She wanted to encourage him to take it, she wanted to say 'you need to keep your strength up', but she didn't want to mention, or even hint for that matter, at the cancer. So she kept quiet and ate it. She figured they would both be better off if she didn't dwell on it. She could see the look of uncertainty that was constantly in Mike's eyes now. It was a look she hated, because whenever she saw that look, she saw herself. She didn't want Mike to feel anything like she did, ever. After all, for the first time in forever, Mike needed her, and she definitely wasn't going to drop the ball here, if not for her sake, for his.

"So, it's a nice day out." Mike said to Lucy, trying to keep his mind off of the depression that lurked on the edge of his mind like an angry viper waiting to strike.

"Yeah, it's not too bad I suppose." Lucy said finishing off the toaster pastry and licking her fingers.

The conversation seemed to come to a halt as they walked the silent street. There wasn't really much for them to say. They were both tired, and neither of them were really looking forward to school. Part of Mike was regretting not taking the offer from his mom to stay home, but at the same time, he knew that if he had, he would have sat there alone… with his thoughts. He may have been able to talk Lucy into staying, but he didn't feel it was right for him to drag her down into his little pit of nothingness, plus, once school was out, Lucy would have to go home to her pets anyway.

That's when Mike realized that Lucy had to take care of the pets, which meant that she was going to have to go straight home after school since she had stayed the night at his house and left them alone. Mike already knew that he couldn't really rely on Lucy to occupy him forever, but he couldn't help but feel that it was too soon. Too soon to go back to the way he felt before. He wanted to ask her to stay with him, not to do anything in particular, just to talk, and be company to one another. Really, he just didn't want to be alone. He knew that he couldn't ask this though. It was selfish and unfair to Chirpy, Yashy, Blur…

That's when something else dawned on Mike, something that caused his heart to sink every time he thought about it. He still had to tell Blur about the cancer. How was he going to do it? He was barely able to tell Lucy, but now he had to tell another person? And what about everyone else for that matter, how was he going to tell Paulo, Daisy, Abbey, David… Sandy…

Mike suddenly felt sick to his stomach. He could feel his body begin to lightly shake as he began to break out into a mild cold sweat. He didn't want to do this. No, he couldn't do it. He just wanted it to all to be over, he wanted the cancer to be gone, and he wanted everything to go back to normal. This was just too much for him to handle at once. Not only did he have to bear the burden of this disease, as well as the constant feeling of impending doom torturing his very being, but he had to tell everyone. Confess to everyone that he was going to die, and worst of all, he had to confess to himself that he was going to die.

Mike felt like once he said it, once everyone knew the truth, that his life would never be the same. Almost as if any chance he had would be removed. Everyone would speak to him with pity in their voices, look at him with pity in their eyes, and treat him like the 'poor boy with cancer'. On the other hand, he also knew that he had to do it at some point. He couldn't simply live out the rest of his life lying. What if one of his friends had gotten cancer and they didn't tell him? He would be hurt, so he couldn't do this to his friends. He wanted to go out on a good note.

With that last thought, Mike felt his rapidly pulsating heart almost skip a beat. He could feel tears beginning to force their way up, but he held them back. He had no plans of crying here, not now. He needed to get control of his thoughts. Like always, he was letting his emotions get the best of him. Letting his doubts combine with his depression to cripple him. He took a deep breath. At least they were almost at school.

"Mike, are you okay?" Lucy asked him with a concerned expression.

"… Yes." Mike said in a near inaudible whisper after a slow nod.

"Are you sure? You really don't look so good." Lucy said stopping and looking in his eyes. She could tell he was in deep pain. She didn't know why he had gotten like this all of the sudden, but she could see the hopeless look in his almost glossy eyes.

"No, Lucy, I'm going to school. I just… I just… Just don't worry about it Lucy." Mike said, his voice littered with the remnants of his exhaustion and his hand shacking feverishly.

"Mike…" Lucy said giving him a pained expression. An expression Mike had only seen on her a few times in his life. An expression he truly hated to see. It was an expression of confusion and malady. Mike couldn't help but wonder if he had the same expression on his face. He tried to smile for Lucy, to make her feel better, but he couldn't do it. It took everything in him not to fall to ground and vomit.

There was a lot Lucy wanted to say to Mike. She wanted to tell him that if he was feeling bad he could go home, he didn't need to feel bad about resting, but she didn't know how to say it. She didn't know how to go about comforting him. It was so… confusing for her to see the very person who had acted as a beacon of light to her for so many a' year in such pain. She was watching the very person who had guided her out of her depression and kept her from being consumed by desolation; descend into his own madness of pain and misery. She wanted to reach out, but she didn't know what to do to help, so she stood by him and finished the walk to school with him. It was the least she could do.