Brenton walked slowly back to the lunch table, where he sat with the same group of people he had for 2 years. He was sure to give Kelly plenty of time to explain what happened-after, showing up too soon would ruin the fun. He wanted to observe the childrens' reactions to his actually injuring Kelly.
Not that he had never injured a child at school before-or that he hadn't harmed a girl, for that matter-but Kelly was different.
Though she was quite masculine, tougher than most of the boys at school, and more than capable of fending any of them off if necessary, it had been proved multiple times that she wasn't even fair game in a fight against Brenton. She was also quite innocent, caring, and sensitive. Most of the intellectually lesser boys thought she was quite hideous and repulsive, the more mentally developed found her personality quite attractive. She was a gymnast, and had stunted her growth, but was certainly the strongest girl at school, though she rarely used her strength against another person. Brenton's act of hurting her, especially after one of her sensitive speeches, displayed the outmost uncaring-easily compared to tossing a puppy off a cliff, though not nearly as comical.
He arrived at the table to find that his spot had been filled up-the kids had spread out to cover all open spaces.
"I would like to sit down," he said, motioning one of them to move over.
The children at the table all glared at him, Kelly especially fearsomely, still nursing her wound.
"You're not allowed to sit here anymore," Pearl said.
Brenton saw the hatred in her eyes and nodded.
"Ah, so that's how you're reacting. Very well," he said, sliding her out of the way with two fingers and sitting down.
"Hey!" she shouted at him, slapping his hand away (he took the hit, as she soon found out that she had dislocated her finger in the process).
"I told you, you're not allowed to sit here anymore!"
Brenton looked over at her.
"And you're going to stop me?" he asked.
Pearl put her legs up on the bench, leaning against her friend Luisa, and tried to shove Brenton onto the next table with her feet. Instead, she managed to push another one of her friends, Heather, off the table.
After a few seconds, she gave up, gasping for breath.
Brenton chuckled, just loud enough for them to hear.
"That's some great progress you're making there," he said, mimicking his brother.
There was a generally negative murmur around the table at this remark, with a few glares at him for the insult.
"If you have something to say to me, say it," Brenton said, making eye contact with everyone in the table, in turn.
"Brenton, leave!" Another girl, Miles, yelled at him, standing up (which, given her shortness, didn't make much of a height difference, and sitting down, Brenton was still taller than her). Brenton glared at her, and after a few moments of looking into his eyes, Miles couldn't stand it any more, and sat back down, trying to make herself smaller than she already was to avoid his glare.
He looked back down at his book, and continued to eat his lunch for a few minutes, calculating which of a series of 4 liquid metals (potassium, sodium, lithium, and 78% K NaK) had the least resistivity, when his thought process was suddenly interrupted.
"How can you just sit there calmly, reading your book, after hurting Kelly like that?" yet another girl, Sarah, asked.
"It's quite simple, really," Brenton mused, not looking up from his book, "I just look at the pages and do a little math, convert some scientific notation; all of which, by the way, you have rudely interrupted. I thought you knew better than that-" suddenly, a wad of spit appeared on the page of his book. This was certainly not Sarah's doing-she was too innocent to do something like that.
Brenton was about to look up to see who had soiled his book when the criminal spoke out.
"Reading more of that nerd book? What a ******** loser," Tanner, the local bully, said.
Brenton clenched his fist.
"I was trying to read that, you know," he said calmly.
"Oooh, poor baby, did big bad Tanner wuin his newdy book?" Tanner impersonated an infant's accent and a sympathetic tone.
"Hey, leave him al-" Pearl was cut off by Brenton.
"Be silent. This is not your conflict."
"Ooh, does Big Bad Brenton have a girlfriend watching his back for him now?" Tanner asked mockingly.
Though Brenton's posture remained calm, the kids around the table saw the look in his eyes, and knew what Tanner was in for. Brenton looked up at Tanner, who saw this look as well.
"Hey, don't try anything stupid. You know I've got a knife," Tanner threatened. They all knew this-nobody else had dared to cross Tanner and alert the school authority, and Brenton didn't care as long as he didn't threaten anybody with it-which he had just done.
"And you think a knife's going to stop me?" Brenton asked, standing up finally.
Tanner stepped back, then reached into his pocket, remembering his knife, and stepped forward again.
"Maybe not just a knife," Tanner's "girlfriend" (the kind that was paid by the hour) Catherine said, pointing at her left breast.
"You know I'm packing a lighter. And you can't have me searched for it," she said, her typical snide grin on her face.
Brenton adopted an intimidating grin of his own (the way he was grinning did not make it intimidating-the fact that he was did).
"There's a great plan. Let's use a lighter against a guy whose name means 'fire'," he said. It was true-coming from an Old English phrase, the name Brenton really did mean "fire".
"Don't bother us with your stupid little nerd facts," Tanner said, reasserting himself into the conversation.
"Alright, then, what is it you want?" Brenton asked.
"Catherine here needs some firewood," Tanner said, pointing at Brenton's book.
"With the amount of mold that thing has, it should do just fine."
If there was one thing Brenton couldn't stand nearly as much as someone breaking school rules, it was someone threatening to break school rules-and setting a book on fire was certainly against school rules.
"Good luck to you," he said to Tanner. Then he looked to Catherine.
"Or, to you, rather," he said. "I forgot that Tanner here has to have his girlfriend do all his work for him."
This set Tanner off. He brought out the knife, a switchblade, and opened the blade. Catherine reached into her bra and took out her lighter (a compact Zippo, of course), opening the lid but not igniting the flame.
Tanner pointed the blade at Brenton, who appeared to ignore it.
"As I said earlier, good luck to you both in taking my book."
"You're going to stop us?" Tanner asked, almost sarcastically.
"Of course I am," Brenton calmly retorted.
Tanner shot a quick glance at Catherine, who ignited her lighter, then jabbed the blade of the knife at Brenton, who simply grabbed his wrist and lifted it up, for all the schoolchildren to see the knife.
Catherine waved the lighter at his clothing. This time, Brenton used his knee to knock the lighter back at her, setting her thin silk shirt on fire. It was all burned in a matter of seconds, too fast for her to even realize what had happened.
Brenton tightened his grip in Tanner's wrist, making him drop the switchblade. He continued to tighten his grip until there was an audible crack, and Tanner cried out in a high-pitched voice. Brenton pushed him back, then noticed Catherine's lack of clothing on her torso-her bra was two sizes too big, to compensate for the lighter, and was hardly staying on-she had to cover her chest with her arm.
Brenton laughed, then said, loud enough for all around to hear,
"What are you covering? I believe Tanner has to pay extra for this," he said, drawing laughter from all around.
One of the campus guards came running over, surveying the situation. Brenton acknowledged her, handing her the Zippo and switchblade.
"The knife belongs to the one with the broken wrist-might want to send him to the nurse for that-and the lighter belongs to the topless one with too much eyeshadow on," he said.
If it had been anybody else, the guard would have probably escorted all three of them to the office for punishment.
But as it was Brenton, the guard knew he would never break the school rules unless it was in self-defense. And, quite frankly, he was afraid to try to get the boy to go with him. So he grabbed one of Tanner's and one of Catherine's hands and headed off to the office.
After seeing the mixed looks of gratitude and fear on the childrens' faces, Brenton said "What are you all looking at me for as if I was some bringer of justice? They tried to take my book." He sat down, returning to his lunch.
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