A/N: This is a fun little story, it'll be either five or six chapters. It's told from Jayden's POV about several encounters with a local bully named Will Carter. The story is written partially in the form of a letter that Jayden is writing to Ji at the age of 15, and secondarily from Jayden's pov at the age of the story. In this first one, Jayden is six years old, and has his first encounter with a very special someone. Jayden also mentions various uncles and an aunt, these are his father's Ranger team, who Jayden met while living at Shiba House. The story is between a year to two years after Jayden's father died. Nick is Green, Ben is Yellow, Damien is Blue and Li is Pink. This story is a gift for WWMTgirl, because she not only listens to my crazy stories, she also tells me when I go too far.
I have completed your requested essay on the ethics of using symbol power on humans. I now take up my pen to explain the series of confrontations between Will Carter and I, and what lead up to the events of last week.
I know that you, like me, will never forget my first meeting with Will Carter. It was in the summer of my sixth year, and you had given me permission to play in the park after we visited the Farmer's Market.
Jayden clung to Uncle Ji's pants with one hand as he stared at the playground. There were kids everywhere! More kids than he'd ever seen at once, that was for sure, and there was the stuff to play on, the slides and swings, and the jungle gym, just like in the book Uncle Ben had given him for his birthday.
"What do you want to do first?" Uncle Ji asked.
Jayden looked up at him for a long moment, then pointed, "There's a sand box," he said.
Uncle Ji frowned, and Jayden wondered if he'd made the wrong choice. "All right Jayden," Ji said finally, "but remember it will be muddy. Try not to get too dirty."
"Yes, Uncle Ji," Jayden said. He waited for Uncle Ji to start walking, but he didn't move. Jayden looked back up to find Uncle Ji still frowning at him. "You come to?" Jayden asked after a moment.
"No," Uncle Ji replied, "you'll be fine on your own."
Jayden swallowed and looked at all the kids again.
Uncle Ji sighed and knelt down, "Look at me, Jayden."
Jayden watched his uncle carefully.
"Your father was a very brave man," Uncle Ji said, "and I know that same bravery is in your heart." He reached out and touched Jayden's chest lightly.
"What's brave?" Jayden asked.
Uncle Ji closed his eyes for a moment, and then smiled as he opened them, "Being brave means doing something even if you're afraid."
Jayden wasn't sure he understood, but Uncle Ji was starting to get the little wrinkle on his forehead that meant he didn't want to answer any more questions. "Ok," Jayden said, "I will be brave."
"Good boy, Jayden," Uncle Ji said. "I'll be right over there," he pointed to some benches, "and I'll hear you if you call for me."
Jayden nodded as Uncle Ji stood up and turned away. For a moment, he stood and watched his uncle leave, and then he turned to the sandbox. There was only one kid in there and Jayden watched him carefully for a moment before walking over.
The boy in the sandbox looked like Uncle Nick used to, except he wasn't wearing green like Uncle Nick did. He was wearing blue like Uncle Damien. He was also playing with a funny shaped bucket and a little shovel.
He stepped up to the sandbox and tilted his head as he watched the boy shovel sand into his bucket. Then the boy looked up and Jayden realized he had seen the boy at the fish stall. "Hi," the boy said, "I'm Tony, want to play barbrians with me?"
"What's bar-barbrians?" Jayden asked, stumbling over the odd word.
"You build a sandcastle and then you jump on it until it's smushed up," Tony replied, "It's lots of fun."
Jayden considered for a moment then nodded, "Ok." He stepped over the wooden board that marked the edge of the sandbox and moved closer.
"What's your name?" Tony asked.
"Jayden," Jayden said.
"Can I call you Jay?" Tony asked, "As a nickname?"
Jayden frowned, then shook his head, "Uncle Ji says I have to be Jayden and that anything is dis- dis- dis-re-pect-ful."
"Ok," Tony said. He offered his shovel to Jayden, "Put sand in the bucket."
Jayden took the shovel and tried to imitate what he'd seen Tony do. It was harder than it looked, but he soon had the bucket full. "Now what?" He asked.
"Now," Tony said, "we turn the bucket upside down and let the dirt come out, watch." He flipped the bucket upside down and pressed it into the sand. He smacked the bottom three times, and then lifted the bucket carefully. The sand looked like it was a castle. "See, a castle," he said. "Let's make some more, I have another shovel."
They were on their third castle when a grunt and a thud made them look up.
A big kid was standing on their first castle, "Hey!" Tony said, "You smushed it!"
"It was stupid," the kid said nastily. "It was a baby castle."
Jayden watched as Tony stood up, "You're mean!"
"You're a baby!" The kid said, "You gonna cry little baby?" He jumped on the second castle and laughed.
Jayden stood up, "Stop," he said quietly, watching as Tony clenched his fists.
"Are you going to make me?" The kid said, he stepped forward and lifted his fist.
Jayden shifted his stance like Aunt Li had showed him, ready to get out of the way.
"Leave him alone!" Tony said, jumping between Jayden and the kid, "Go away meanie!"
"I don't have to do anything I don't want to," the kid said, and he pushed Tony to the side. "And I do whatever I want."
Jayden looked between Tony and the kid and began to back up, "Please stop," he asked quietly.
"Why should I?" The kid demanded and shoved Jayden back.
Jayden stumbled back and felt his heel catch on the board on the edge of the sandbox. He tried to turn and fall like Aunt Li had taught him. However, the sandbox had been placed under the branches of a tree, to provide shade for the children, and some bushes had been planted around the base of said tree. Luck ensured that Jayden missed the tree itself, but not the bushes. He felt sharp pain in his hands, then he crashed head first into the bushes with a scream of pain.
I later learned that the kid on the playground was Will Carter. It was the first time I ever saw him, but it was not the last, no thanks to his actions. Thanks to Will Carter, I would spend months struggling to learn to live while partially blind, a condition that has never improved. It was also the first time I ever met Antonio.
The impression I carried away from that meeting with Will Carter was that he was a bully, an impression that he has never attempted to change, and has, in fact reinforced every time we meet.