Edit (more like rewrite): 10-28-13
Sena, Age 8
A little boy, clad in a green-white striped T-shirt and black shorts, was kneeling on the ground in the middle of a park. He had remarkably spiky brown hair that defied the rules of gravity. His eyes were shut tightly as he held his hands above his head. His bottom lip trembled slightly in fear as he clenched his teeth tightly together.
Today had been an extra bad day for him. Rather, it must have for his tormenters, because they were currently venting their anger at him with extra vigor. His locker had been trashed with pins—normally they just put wet tissues in his shoes; they made him buy extra lunch at the line, and now they were kicking sand at him while laughing. Had this poor brunette been a tad bit brighter, he would have thought to stand up to avoid the sand particles getting at his face. Unfortunately, the boy was at the end of his rope, having gone through a particularly exhausting day, which actually meant something, considering the ill-fated days he lived through regularly. He simply was too tired of everything to think clearly.
Long ago, he had already resigned to his fate of being the victim and the gopher. Because of this, he had always been isolated, avoided, and alone. No one wanted to be associated with the pushover, not with the threat of being a victim themselves hanging in the air. His only salvation was Mamori and Riku, and the latter had moved away two or three years ago already. Oh, how he wished he had as much courage as them…
Sena took the abuse all in silence, simply waiting for them to get bored of their game, as he did everyday. Eventually, the ringleader stopped and stood before him with his arms crossed. Soon enough, his posse noticed and stepped back next to the lead bully, imitating their leader's pose. The bully sported a scowl on his face as he kicked up the sand at Sena before he walked out of the park with his little group trailing along. The elementary bully shouted behind him as he left, "You're no fun!"
The dirty and beat up boy released a long and resigned sigh, standing up and pausing to brush the sand he could off of him. He then trudged out of the park with a bag that was in about the same condition as he was. He was glad he met no one on his way home, or else they would have thought he was some kind of homeless orphan, considering his clothes weren't exactly looking clean.
Sena stepped in his house, took off his shoes, and muttered quietly, "I'm home."
Obviously no one was home though. Sena didn't have any siblings and his parents didn't come home from work until around six so everyday he arrived home with deathly silence welcoming him. He was glad for that, actually. He didn't want his parents to see him coming home in this state. Sena always took the liberty to wash himself up before his parents came home.
Even then, he knew that his parents were somewhat aware of his position at school. Every single morning and evening, he was forced to endure their smothering, pitying, concern for him. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate their concern; he simply hated seeing his parents' sadness in their eyes. Hated to see that it was his fault for making them feel this way. Hated that he couldn't do anything about it.
Hated to be so weak.
"Stop right there, loser."
Sena felt a sinking sensation in his heart as he slowly turned around. He had been hoping he could go home without an incident after his crummy day at school, but he was already expecting something like this to happen. The lead bully slapped him hard on the back with a loud laugh. "Don't give me that look. We're friends, right?"
The short brunette debated in his mind whether to resist or just go along with him. He knew either way would get himself hurt, but at least he could choose the easier one. Sena mustered a smile and plastered it on his face. "Haha, yeah."
He felt like crying inside. It disgusted himself to suck up to his tormenters. But this way would hurt less.
The taller boy grinned at him, patting his head. "Good, good. Then come on over to my house then!"
Sena blinked at him in surprise. That was a first. He looked down at his shoes. He had a really bad feeling about this. "Um, my mom told me to come home early today." He stepped back, turning back towards home.
"Who said you could leave?"
Sena's bottom lip quivered fearfully. He attempted to ignore the bully, taking another step forward. But before he could get any farther, the other boy grabbed his arm and forcefully yanked him back. He hissed in Sena's ear, "You're coming to my house right now, friend."
"Hey! You!" A voice in the distance called out. "Get away from Sena!"
Sena turned around, tears of relief filling his eyes as he watched Mamori draw closer. "Mamori-neechan!"
The boy holding onto Sena immediately let go and began walking away. He muttered, "Stupid girl."
Mamori ran between those two with her arms splayed out defensively in front of Sena. "Don't bully Sena! Stay away from him!" She shouted at the retreating boy. The pinkette took his hand gently as she led him home. Looking down at him in concern, she asked, "Are you okay, Sena?"
Sena turned away, unable to look at Mamori in the eye. He bit his lip anxiously as they continued their way down the street. The brunette did not answer her but gripped her hand tighter.
This hand. He would protect it.
Right now, she was protecting him, but one day, he would protect her. They separated ways when they arrived at their respective houses. Waving good-bye to her, Sena quickly turned around and stepped into his house. A pronounced frown appeared on his face as he had a much more realistic thought.
Could he protect himself?
He knew the answer.
Sena was slumped in his chair, his head tiled up at the ceiling in thought. His wore a face of hard concentration, thinking of the same things he had been pondering upon for the thousandth time this week.
Riku taught him well on how to run away, but to fight back? He had promised his friend he would protect Mamori. How was he to do it with running away?
But Mamori was the one who protected him.
He was the one who needed to be protected.
But he didn't have to be strong, right? All he needed to do is run away from the bullies. Then Mamori wouldn't have to go through the trouble of defending him.
It's not like the life of a bully victim was that bad, especially with Mamori by his side.
But he promised Riku he would protect her…
It was an endless, vicious cycle.
The following morning, Sena and Mamori walked to Deimon Elementary together in comfortable silence. After Mamori gave her concerned-parent-but-not-a-parent speech to Sena, which consisted something along the lines of, "Don't try to stand out in a bad way. Make sure you finish your lunch and drink lots of water…" Sena took it all in with a smile and a nod.
The day went by quickly, and soon, Sena was reaching into his backpack for his lunch. He looked around the classroom for his daily tormenters. His jaw dropped to see them getting out of the classroom together with money in their hands. They were getting their own lunch…on their own…? Sena shook his head vigorously. He wasn't about to remind him of his job as a gopher for them. If they were going to finally get their own lunches, then good for them.
The brunette scratched his head nervously. This was too strange. They would never leave him alone like this…
He nearly dropped his bento in fright. They must've done something to his lunch then. He stared at his lunch for a long second. Sena felt as though his hands were being poisoned just by holding it. With a strong sense of foreboding, he slowly opened his bento.
There was nothing wrong with it. His rice, chicken, vegetables were all untouched. He blinked as he held his cap of the bento in the air. Sena closed his eyes and let out a sigh of relief. He was just being paranoid.
For a good reason, Sena thought dryly as he found a note that practically shouted: 'SCHEME SCHEME PLOT PLOT' in his locker afterschool. Unraveling the folded up note, it was a quick message in a messy scrawl:
if you want that girl, you better come to the back of the school now!
Sena could feel the blood rush out of his face. His heart was poured in white cold water, yet it beat so hard and fast. He unknowingly dropped his school bag on the floor, causing a few other kids to glance his way before turning away. His hands and feet suddenly felt clammy and frozen.
After a second to gather his bearings, he launched into a sprint, schooling a furious expression on his face. Running out of the building, Sena didn't miss a beat and continued at his fast pace to the back of the school building. His fists were clenched so hard, his knuckles turned white, and his gums hurt from gritting his teeth so hard from anger.
The moment he turned the corner, he skidded to a quick stop and his previously clasped fists opened in shock. The now crumpled paper fell to the ground.
Forget about how he was feeling a second before. It was nothing compared to this. This feeling Sena could not identify. The closest word would be "livid," or "enraged" but neither was enough to express it.
He was past angry.
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" Sena roared ferociously, shooting forward and tackling the larger boy who had his hand raised to slap the girl who was huddled on the ground.
There was another boy who stood behind them with his arms crossed, smirking. "What does it look like? No need to get all riled up now, Kobayakawa Sena."
Sena was too infuriated to form coherent words and snarled at the boys in rabid fury. He positioned himself in front of Mamori, who had her head ducked into her arms—shoulders shaking occasionally—and held his arms out protectively. The brunette was panting heavily, not from the exertion of just sprinting all the way here, but from his explosive anger that he was attempting to reign in.
"Well anyway, it's good you found this place, huh." The older boy looked down at him with a superior gleam in his eyes. "My little brother has told me all about you two." His face transformed into a cruel sneer as he continued, "And it seems you need some punishment."
It was then that Sena noticed his usual tormenter was there, behind everything, standing in the back wearing a dumb grin. The boy raised a fist and shouted out, "Yeah, you go show him, brother!"
"Shut up, you mutt." The older brother bit out icily. "Be thankful I'm doing this for you. All I ask is you to keep your frickin' mouth shut!"
Sena could understand why the boy would feel the need to vent his negative feelings somewhere. The brunette seethed as he thought, That doesn't mean he should vent it on Mamori!
The older boy's attention returned to Sena as he let out a small chuckle. "So, Sena. Which will it be? You or the girl?"
Sena glared at him murderously, moving directly in front of Mamori to block anything that would come at her. "Don't you dare touch her!" He snarled out.
The brother raised his eyebrows and put his hands up in superficial fear. "Whoa, whoa. Sca~ary." The other two boys there hooted with laughter at his antics. The brother basked in the attention and smirked. "So I'm guessing you choose yourself. C'mon boys, let's get him!"
They cheered and grinned as they closed in on Sena. The brunette glanced at the cowering Mamori one last time before he thrown on the ground. As long she's not hurt…
And he then resigned to his fate.
Sena lay on the ground, admiring the beautiful deep blue sky. "It would be nice to be like the sky." Sena whispered out offhandedly.
Above everything, everybody. Unaffected by anything, anyone.
Breaking out of his stupor, he sat up with a grimace of pain showing clearly on his face. Sena turned to look at Mamori, who lay on the ground next to him, sound asleep. He shook her shoulders, trying to wake her from her slumber. After the bullies had gotten bored of the 'Let's-beat-Sena-up' game, they left with a last kick on his back. Sena opened his shell he had curled himself into as they began their beating. He did a quick examination of himself and Mamori. Sena knew he was in pretty bad condition, but he was glad that Mamori only got a bruise on her face and nothing else.
"Mamori-neechan, wake up."
"S-Sena?" Her voice cracked as she opened her eyes.
Sena stood up, wincing the whole time, and then extended a hand out for his childhood friend. He managed a smile and said softly, "C'mon, let's go home now."
She sat up and grabbed his hand with a smile. "Alright."
They walked home in companionable silence, with Sena leaning heavily on Mamori. He was tense and panting in pain by the time they arrived home. He untangled himself from Mamori's support when they walked up Sena's front door. He looked down ashamedly. "I-I'm sorry, neechan. It was my fault you got hurt."
Sena retreated into his house, and slowly closed the door on her, depressed. Mamori had a genuinely shocked face that the brunette did not catch. "Sena!" The pinkette did not receive an answer. "It's not your fault." She started. "If anything…" She hesitated, looking at the ground in distress. "If anything, it's my fault. I said I'd protect you…b-but I don't know. You ended up protecting me…I'm sorry."
Mamori's head snapped up when she heard Sena's solemn voice through the door. "Don't say that." She heard him take a deep breath. "That's the only thing that went right. That I protected you."
The next few days were a blur for Sena. He stayed home for a few days after the incident, being too injured to go to school. None of the wounds were serious enough to send him to the hospital. He just had a lot of not-so-serious injuries. Today was the last day of recovering—he had shed most of his bandages, only the more serious wounds were covered still. Mamori visited Sena every single day. The brunette was glad she never brought up the topic after that day. They chatted about casual things that kept the atmosphere relaxed.
But the things Sena could not put his heart into their conversations. He was still in turmoil at his weakness. Even if they never mentioned it, he thought about it countless times everyday. His helplessness for himself and Mamori.
This was no longer something that he put himself into an infinite circle of thought anymore. He knew he had to do something about it. His mouth twisted into a hard line. Sena could take everything they gave him, but if they started aiming for Mamori, he would not take it.
Sena sat in the kitchen table with his dad, who was immersed in the news paper as he was everyday. His eyes followed his mom's back moving around in the kitchen absently. His mind flashed to the incident, his resolve strengthening. He would get stronger. For sure. Even if it killed him.
"Hey, Mom, Dad. I want to take karate lessons."
Merrrp. This was so hard to rewrite .
But it's waay better than the first version...for sure. :D
Hope you guys liked my new first chapter!