Queenie toted her boyfriend through the hallways with a new sense of pride. She looked up at Batter's face and was pleased by his emotionless, yet submissive demeanor. She looked around and saw the envious faces of her friends. She spotted Sugar, who immediately averted her gaze when she noticed Batter.

She was in control. This feeling of victory filled her up inside and she glowed with satisfaction. Batter, her friends, even people she hardly knew, all knew their place and no longer encroached on what she had; what she deserved and most desperately needed.

Queenie took a firm grip on Batter's arm. It had been a week or two since he had spoken to those outcasts. That time was instead spent with her and people who didn't threaten her relationship. She held him tightly and felt as though, were she prompted to do so, she could break his arm in half before he moved from her side.

Batter could feel the lump in his throat that frequently formed when Queenie was around. Her tightened grip was frightening, but comforting in a way he could not fully understand. Yes, she was forcing him to stay in place, but he wasn't sure if he even wanted to move.

However, as they turned the corner to the school lobby, he felt differently; uncomfortable and angry, "Hello Kitty, why do you wear that stupid ass mask?" Tim's voice rang out clearly and obnoxiously, followed by a chorus of throaty laughs.

"He wears it cause his face so ratchet, he can't show it in school."

"I heard your daddy burnt your face off before he walked out on you and your skank-ass mom."

The boys surrounded the school store booth where Zacharie was sitting, making it so that Batter couldn't see much past them. He looked around briefly, wondering if anyone was going to step in and stop them.

Memories of when Batter had done the same thing to other kids rang in his head. Pushing them up against lockers, calling them names, even a few swirlies came to mind... He asked himself why this was any different, seeing as those situations never ended with anyone helping the victim. Yet, he knew the reason why this upset him so thoroughly.

And that reason was in the process of being dragged out from behind the booth. Batter watched in petrification, thinking this was something similar to a car accident. It was horrible, but he couldn't move; couldn't speak or do anything to stop it.

Queenie's hand reached up and turned Batter's face away from the scene. He looked at her, but he still felt like he was staring at his friends. Were they really his friends? No. No, he couldn't call them that.

"Batter, stop looking at them. It doesn't matter." Queenie spoke with a warning in her voice, but the longer she looked at him, the harder she thought. What was threatening her? Zacharie, no doubt, but what about him...? The fact that he was in danger?

Queenie removed her hand and turned on her heel towards the fight, "Hey!" She shouted and the boys turned their attention to her. Tim was holding Zacharie up by his shirt, but dropped him quickly, turning to Queenie with a sly grin, "Whatever it is you're doing, stop it."

Tim's smile widened as he caught sight of Batter in the background, "What? Batter's too scared to come and talk for himself?"

Queenie took a deep breath, swallowing the rage inside of her. She smiled back at him, her anger manifesting in her eyes, "Listen to me very clearly. I don't like you and I don't like the freak either. Actually, I hate him." She glanced at Zacharie for a moment, hoping he would remember her words, then looked back to Tim, "But, if you upset Batter in any way, i'll make sure you regret it."

Tim stared at Queenie for a moment, shocked. He looked to his two friends in disbelief. Sweet little Queenie couldn't actually be that menacing? He then settled his attention back on Queenie, leaned forward, and laughed as loudly as he could to cover his uneasiness.

Though his friends only had a short chance to laugh along, as Queenie sunk the tip of her heel into Tim's crotch. He shouted out and fell to his knees next to Zacharie, "You crazy-!" He tried to curse, but the breath had been knocked out of him.

Batter rushed up at this point, finally finding the will to move, "Why did you do that?!" He questioned in shock, but Queenie ignored him, instead looking down on Tim with an unreasonable amount of anger.

"That's just the start if you continue to fuck with me." She spoke lowly, then, surprisingly, turned her gaze to Zacharie, "Take this as a fucking warning. If you ever try to take Batter away from me, I swear I will fucking kill you!" Her voice increased in volume and instability, amounting to something of an animalistic screech.

Batter took a hold of her arm and began dragging her away from the scene. He couldn't bring himself to look at Tim or Zacharie. He couldn't do anything but run away.


Batter swung hard, knocking another baseball up against the fence with a loud thud.


Again and again, over and over, he swung his bat and heard the unsatisfying clatter of metal. It was better than talking, though. Better than thinking and certainly better than feeling. Though, it was nearly impossible to disconnect from his brain.


This might have been his goal the entire time, he thought. Maybe he was sabotaging himself into isolation, making it so that anyone that cared about him was frustrated enough that they would give up and leave him alone. Zacharie, Queenie... Everyone would stop confusing him and he could just go back to being ignorant and unfeeling; back to when hitting baseballs like this was a comfort and not an excuse for inaction.

"Batter!" He heard his name, turning towards the voice that wasn't the one moping inside of his head.

To his surprise, Sugar was walking in his direction. Not so surprisingly, she looked unhappy. Well, maybe she looked a little pissed off. The closer she got, the clearer her displeasure became. Raised eyebrows, mildly pouting lips, and daggers for eyes stood out from the rest of her face, each one sending off a red flag in Batter's mind.

"We need to talk. I know you don't want to, but we're going to have a goddamn talk." Sugar stepped in front of him, taking the baseball bat from Batter's limp grip. She tossed it to the side and crossed her arms.

"About what?" Batter asked dumbly, thinking he had to respond. Sugar rolled her eyes.

"You never have anything intelligent to say, do you? Ok, no. I didn't come to be mean or to yell at you. We're going to have a calm, civil discussion about why you can't seem to get your shit together." Batter cocked his head to the side and she grew a little flustered, "Don't think I'm your friend because I'm talking to you."

"You and Queenie have your own relationship and it is none of my business, but when you drag Zacharie into your sadomasochism, that's when it becomes my business. See, I care more about Zach than I will ever care about you. He means everything to me and I know he means something to you. Don't just throw him away like sad trash because you can't settle your own goddamn relationship problems."

Sugar paused and took breath, "Why do you even stay with Queenie?"

That was a simple question with a highly complex answer Batter didn't understand, "I... She needs me I guess..." Batter spoke quietly and Sugar frowned, "Nobody really knows this, but she's sick. Like, she can't control herself. She tells me all the time that she has nobody else but me to help her."

Batter was surprised at himself when he continued to speak, "She is a good person. I know it and I just don't feel like I can abandon her when she relies on me. She's my friend and..."

"And you know deep down that you love her and she loves you and for some reason you're willing to put up with it because of that." Sugar finished for him and he looked at her with confusion in his eyes. She shrugged, "It just sounds familiar."

"You have a lot more in common with Zach than you think. No wonder you like him so much." Batter looked away in embarrassment and Sugar sighed, feeling that bizarre mixture of attraction, frustration, and pity she always seemed to feel for him.

"Batter, why do you think he wears a mask?"