“D.J, you can’t let him beat you, no matter what.” Said his best friend Randy. “I don’t fight.” D.J replied simply. Randy and D.J were handing out in D.J’s tree house. The hang ladder started to shake and soon D.J’s little sister, Danny, had pulled herself up through the trapdoor and joined them. “Yo.” She said. Randy directed his attention to her. “Danny, if some girl at your school was about to beat the cr*p out of you, would you just take it or would you fight back?” he asked. Danny didn’t hesitate. “I’d defend myself.” She insisted. “Well, your punk brother here is going to let some guy knock him out.” He informed her. Danny shrugged. If D.J didn’t want to fight, Danny trusted his judgment and guessed that he must have a good reason not to. D.J and Danny had been best friends ever since they were toddlers so she knew that D.J was different. While she was a loud, incessant talker, he was the calm, quiet, and mature type. Most of the time, their father made fun of D.J because Danny acted more masculine than he did. Even so, Danny was very irrational and impulsive so her decision to defend herself may not have been a good one, so she waited for D.J’s response. “I’m not a coward, he is. All he’s going to do is bring like four of his friends and stand around me and talk smack. He probably won’t even touch me.” Said D.J. “So going there trying to fight is just dumb.” Randy rolled his eyes. “He’s going to cream you, but don’t worry. I’ll get some of the guys on the soccer team on our side.” D.J shook his head roughly. “No, I can do it alone.” Danny wondered about that. D.J definitely wasn’t very big for a fifteen year old boy, he was smaller and shorter than average. She was about an inch taller than him and she was fourteen. He had a round little brown baby face with big brown eyes just like her. Randy was also African American, but he was light skinned with black wavy hair and was really chubby. D.J wasn’t intimidating and even if he did bring his fat friend and younger sister, what could they do? There was no reason for the bully to bring back up just to mock him. For once in her life, Danny felt D.J’s reasoning was off. Before she could say anything, Randy spoke up. “I’m still going to help you out.” “Don’t sweat it, Randy, he’s just a hater.” D.J calmly said. Randy grinned and his braces shone in the sunlight. “Whatever, dude. It’s your funeral.” They began talking about something else until it got dark and they all went home. The next day, Randy was glued to D.J’s side even more than usual. He looked panicked and overly worried. Near the end of the day, Randy stopped D.J and took him into the bathroom. When they were alone, he zipped his backpack open. “Check this out.” He whispered. He pulled out a small black object. “What the h*ll is this?” exclaimed D.J. Randy pushed the gun into D.J’s hands and D.J held it away from his body. “Just in case he tries to bullsh*t you, you can whip it out just to freak him out!” reasoned Randy. “What?! No! You could get us both expelled!” shouted D.J. Randy shrugged and took the gun back. “I just want to protect you, I’m your friend and-““Yeah, well your idea of protection is really stupid, Randy.” Randy frowned and walked out of the bathroom. D.J paused at the sink and splashed some water on his face. When he opened his eyes, there was a shadow behind him. “Now what, Randy?” he asked but when he turned around, it wasn’t Randy, it was Steven, he biggest threat to any sophomore boy at Banks Shore high school. He sighed cursing his luck. Steven crossed his arms and said “Well, look what the cat dragged in.” D.J rolled his eyes but didn’t speak. “I said I was gonna get you after school but maybe I should do you a favor and not embarrass you in front of everyone.” He said grinning menacingly. “You could do me a favor and not touch me at all.” Said D.J. Steven faked a laugh then before D.J could act he came up behind him and pushed his face into the mirror. D.J realized immediately that everyone had been right… D.J was much too weak to even slightly lift his head up. Steven suddenly shoved him down. He hit his side on the next sink and felt pain shoot up his back before he collapsed on the dirty bathroom floor. Suddenly, he moved and his foot connected with D.J’s ribs repeatedly. “Wait!” shouted D.J. Steven turned around worried that someone might hear D.J shouting. He waited momentarily and then looked back down at him. “I understand, okay?” said D.J. Steven looked at him. “I get why you want to beat people up, alright? But if you stop…stop right now and think about this…think about the suspension you’ll get when I tell on you and think about the charges my family could press against you if you go to far…if you really think about it, you’ll realize that it’s all not even worth it…and we could be friends.” He pleaded. Steven smirked. “You idiot, who would ever want to be your friend?” he asked. “But you have nothing against me! All I did yesterday, was stand up for that girl you were pushing around, so what? Maybe if you stood up for girls instead of being mean to them, they’d like you too.” Steven began to look angry. D.J decided it was time for desperate measures. “And I know she likes you.” He said. Steven raised his eyebrows. “No, she doesn’t. She hates me.” “Of course, she acts like that but she told Danny…she really likes you…maybe if you’d join us instead of those mean guys you hang around with, you could go on a date with her or something. We’d set it up for you.” D.J sat up and winced then held his waist very certain that he had broken at least two ribs. “And we could put all of this fighting stuff behind us, what do you say?” Steven looked at him with clear hazel eyes. He was mixed with white and black, D.J recalled kids making fun of him often when he was younger because his skin was so dark and his eyes were so strangely hazel. D.J knew he wasn’t really a monster. Steven sighed and reached toward D.J to help him up. “Okay, I-“ “Hold it, *sshole!” shouted a voice. Steven turned around to see Randy. Steven looked shocked. “Oh, look it’s your fatty friend.” He said. Randy ran over to Steven and shoved him to the ground and punched at his face trying to beat him up. D.J sat there and watched unable to move because of the pain. “Randy stop!” he managed to yell but it didn’t work. They were fighting and Steven was winning. Finally, Steven stood up after he gave Randy two black eyes. Steven was so angry, D.J could tell he was losing it. “Steven, wait.” Said D.J weakly but Steven didn’t listen, he dragged him away from Randy and began punching him and kicking him and just putting all of his pain and anger into beating D.J up. D.J’s nose busted and he spat blood and felt his eye bruise. D.J couldn’t even move after four minutes of it. He could hardly speak…something was wrong…very wrong. Randy stood up. Steven looked over and put his sneaker on D.J’s groin. “Move and I’ll break it.” He said. D.J couldn’t even move his hands to cover himself. “I swear I will.” Steven threatened. Randy moved anyway. “I need to get my inhaler out of my backpack.” Said Randy thrusting his hand inside but D.J knew better. “No, Randy!” he whispered. The door to the bathroom swung open but only D.J saw who came running in because three things happened at once. Steven lifted his foot his and pounded his shoe as hard as he could in between D.J’s legs, Randy saw what he did and drew the black gun from his backpack and the intruder screamed and launched themselves between D.J and Steven. The gun sounded. Someone dropped to the bloody bathroom floor. D.J lay motionless and two boys looked shocked. “D.J?” whispered Randy. D.J was bleeding from his eyes and nose but was not shot. Randy’s eyes went over to the other body laying on the floor…the one that was shot. “D-Danny?” he said inaudibly. Danny, D.J’s little sister, rushed in trying to be a hero and instead took the bullet aimed for the bully. Finally, Randy’s eyes looked at Steven and then he couldn’t take it anymore and with the gun still locked in his hand, he fainted and thudded to the floor. Steven was lost for words; he didn’t even seem to notice Danny bleeding out or Randy going into shock and then passing out. He saw the look on D.J’s face when he kicked him…he saw the life leave him and now…he saw his eyes wide open staring cold and blankly at him as if accusingly. “I didn’t mean to kill you.” He whispered. “I-I…I really didn’t mean to.” His eyes went over the body of Danny, which meant nothing to him, nothing meant anything to him…except that gun in Randy’s right hand…he stepped over everyone and calmly removed it from Randy’s grip and held it to his own head.