Chapter 17: A Visible Change

So they continued their walk down the hall, little said between the three of them. Mike and Lucy were perfectly content with the quiet, and David seemed to be perfectly happy with whatever was running through his head. It wasn't long at all until they reached the end of the hallway and had to turn into another.

"Paulo!" David said enthusiastically.

Lucy looked over, and sure enough, there was Paulo leaning against the wall next to a row of lockers, seemingly trying to look inconspicuous.

"Oh, uh, hey!" Paulo said with a nervous smile. He was feeling increasingly uncomfortable as he processed each of their expressions. David seemed happy, as always. Lucy seemed shocked, unsurprisingly, and Mike seemed angry, possibly the most disturbing of all.

"Paulo, what are you doing here?" Lucy asked almost speechless.

"Oh, I was just, uh, standing here." Paulo answered, unable to voice his true intentions.

"We'll leave you to that." Mike said walking off, not waiting on either Lucy or David.

"Mike, wait!" Paulo yelled running after him. Mike stopped walking, but he didn't turn around. He simply closed his eyes and tried to gather his thoughts. "There… there is another reason I'm here. I just wanted to, um, say I was sorry. It was pretty messed up for me to say those things, especially in front of everyone. I didn't really think … it would bother you that much."

"… You don't think much, do you Paulo?" Mike asked with a sigh.

"Huh?" Paulo asked slightly confused.

"Incredible," Mike said laughing. "You really never change."

"Uhh, Mike, what are you talking about?" Paulo asked, beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable on top of being confused.

"You're an idiot, Paulo. You wouldn't be able to understand even if I explained it." Mike said walking away.

"Wha- Wait!" Paulo yelled out.

"What?" Mike responded with anger, this time turning around and glaring at Paulo with malice.

"I… just wanted to say sorry." Paulo said slightly caught off guard.

"Yeah, you already said that." Mike said to him. "So is that all?"

"I guess… it is."Paulo responded with a touch of sadness in his voice, as his shoulders slumped and his disposition visibly changed.

Mike simply kept walking down the hallway, away from Paulo and away from his problems. He didn't feel bad for what he said, and he didn't feel bad about shunning Paulo. The only thing he felt bad about was not being more heinous. He wanted to do so much more. He wanted to tell Paulo he was an idiot, and to tell him he had always been an idiot. To tell him he was cocky, he was selfish, he was mean, and he was inconsiderate. To punch him in the face and watch him writhe in pain. Only then could Paulo come close to grasping the truth. Only then could he possibly understand what Mike was going through. Only then would he have earned the right to apologize. Only then would Paulo have earned the right to speak with him.

"Paulo…" Lucy said, wanting to comfort him, but now knowing what to say. She wanted to stay with him, maybe to wait for the words to come, maybe just to serve as company, but she knew she couldn't leave Mike alone. Every time Mike was alone everything went downhill, and she didn't want another event like the one with Paulo.

"Don't worry, Lucy. You can go with Mike. Don't worry about me." Paulo said his voice low and quiet.

Paulo's words only made it harder for Lucy to decide. She knew it wasn't right to leave Paulo for Mike, but she didn't have a choice. Mike needed her help more than Paulo right now.

"You can go on ahead. I'll take care of Paulo!" David said with enthusiasm.

"Thanks, David." Lucy said as she rushed on ahead. Paulo couldn't help but watch her run to Mike's aid, and leave him there. He had been a good friend, hadn't he?