Peter rand his fingers through his strain black locks of hair, then shook his head a little to get it to settle where he liked it. His roots were starting to show, a lighter shade of brown, giving the slightest hint that the night-like color might not be his natural color. With furrowed brow, he looked up at James, his eyes as icy blue as his glare.
“You didn’t have to get involved,” he grumbled. “I was fine. I am fine.”
“Peter, don’t be rude,” Cerys scolded him, her voice low so that nobody passing by would hear her. “He helped you even though he doesn’t know you.”
“No, Peter, you can’t just shrug it off anymore! Take this seriously.”
“Whatever, so I fell down, so they yelled at me, so what? I don’t listen to them, I don’t do what they tell me.”
James looked to Cerys for a moment, opened his mouth to say something, and then changed his mind. Instead, he grasped Peter by the shoulders and looked down into his pale blue eyes. “Those bullies have gym class before you, did you know that? I was in the locker room when they were talking about hurting someone. They said it was about time they– Nevermind, you don’t need to hear such filth. Listen, I followed them out here and saw them start messing around with you. How could I not step in?”
Cerys nearly had to pick up her jaw from the ground. “Peter, are you listening? Those bullies were planning to hurt you this time! It’s not just words anymore, it’s not just stupid accidents that aren’t even accidents. It’s not even the end of the second quarter and they were about to beat you up! You aren’t safe here!”
James crossed his arms over his chest and glanced around. “I have a feeling that nobody will want to bother him anymore.”
“The way they fell to their knees,” Bayani said, looking up at James, “that was incredible.”
“How do you do that?” Cerys asked. “How did you make them listen to you? They looked like they were actually afraid of you!”
“I guess,” James said with a shrug,” I just have that effect on people.”
Scowling, Cerys yelled, “Not you, too! Enough with the shrugging.” She pretended to throw punches at James’s belly. “You know how, so just– out with it!”
Peter smirked, but looked away when James noticed it.
“Tell you what,” James said. “Come to my house after school and we can talk about it.”
Cerys blinked. “What– your house– really?!”
James nodded, and suddenly Cerys was a firecracker.
“I’d love to! But first we have to–” She went on talking at a speed that might have competed with the speed of light, were there a race on.
“That invitation is for all of you,” James added. He gave Peter a hopeful smile.
“I’ll think about it,” Peter said. He looked at Bayani. “Okay?”
“Its sounds great to me,” his boyfriend replied. “I’ve always wondered what that house looks like on the inside. In the meantime, we have to get to the computer lab.”
Peter nodded, and walked past his sister, her friend, and James with the faintest ‘bye’ he could muster. Cerys shook her head as he walked away. Himeko had to nearly drag her to the cafeteria to get food, and she complained about her brother the entire time.
“Watch out,” James joked as he took one of the trays, “or I might think you actually care about your brother.”