This is Issue #6 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial. If you haven’t read any of the earlier pieces, click the Serials link and start at ‘A Beginning’, then go forward. Don’t worry; I’ll wait here.
Ready? All right then.
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“Mother?” Jet began, looking startled. “Father?”
Immediately, his mother got up, and moved to take his hands, and pull him into her warm, soft embrace. Her cheek on his was cool, and she smelled precisely of the perfume he’d always remembered. “My boy,” she breathed. “You look terrible; they’ve starved you,” she whispered, kissing his forehead. “Nasty, brutish academy,” she said, pulling back to brush his hair back from his face. “I’ve half a mind to–”
“Kazue,” Jet’s father sighed. “Not right now.”
Across the room, in the other few chairs, the Redwells sat in stony silence, Hoyt with his arms crossed over his chest, Ms. Redwell glaring hate at a spot on the carpet, and Mr. Redwell busying himself with the contents of his briefcase.
When Olivier opened the door to his inner chamber, he glanced over all three families, his lips pursed to a thin line. Everyone began to file in past him, and found places to sit in the extra chairs, save for Hoyt, who stood mostly upright, shoulders level, head up, as though readying himself for inspection. Olivier stopped Jet just before he walked in, and leaned in close. “Your discipline has been removed from your records so as not to affect your academic career. If you wish it to remain that way, you will not discuss it. Should you bring it up, the nature of your relationship with Mr. Brody will be investigated. Are we clear?”
Jet flushed, furious, but gritted his teeth and nodded.
Olivier nodded once, then swept in to the office, and offered tea to the grouping, welcoming them. “Ladies, Gentlemen, I want to thank you all for–”
“Let’s dispense with the pleasantries,” Mrs. Redwell snapped. “We’re quite busy, and I’m sure everyone has something to get back to.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Olivier said, clearing his throat. “Dirty business, this, when children fight,” he began. “It–”
“Who started it, man?” Mr. Redwell hissed. “That’s all anyone is asking for.”
“I see.” Olivier looked exasperated, exhausted, and as though he’d rather curl up and die. “Redwell, stand up and explain what happened.”
Hoyt stood then, and glared death down at Jet, and said, “Brody… insulted me. So I stopped him.” Mr. Redwell looked unsurprised, as well as uncaring, while Mrs. Redwell looked disgusted at the first statement, and then proud at the second.
“And how did you stop him?” Olivier pushed.
“Warned him lots,” Hoyt said, shrugging. “Then we popped eachother coupla times. Don’t remember. Everyone started rushin in, n’ then I got sent here.”
“I see. Harrington?”
Jet cleared his throat, and looked down at his hands, then looked over at his parents. His father wore an expression demanding answers, while his mother looked only loving. He then dared to look over to Kieron’s parents, who looked everything from tired to infuriated, to… ashamed?
“Hoyt’s accout is mostly true,” Jet said quietly. “Kieron …insulted Brody, and Brody hit him. But it wasn’t once or twice. I didn’t see it all, but I know after the first punch, Kieron went down, and then Hoyt kept hitting him. Punched him over and over. I couldn’t stop him. Three or four older students tried, prefects tried — eventually, he was hauled away, still trying to hit and kick Kieron. Somewhere in there, he punched me in the face.”
“And you’re sure it wasn’t your friend Brody who accidentally struck you, while you were trying to insinuate yourself into the altercation?” Redwell Senior sneered.
“I’m sure, sir,” Jet answered calmly. “Hoyt’s a big guy. He knocked Kieron out, first punch. Kieron never hit back. To be fair, I don’t know as Hoyt was trying to hit me.”
“Why should we believe any of this?” Mr. Redwell glowered.
“Several eye-witnesses, all of whom have corroborated Harrington’s story, to the letter. As you can see, Mr. Redwell, Mr. Harrington required stitches from your son’s attack, and he wasn’t even the intended target,” Olivier sighed. “And this is not the first time such an incident has occurred. Hoyt Redwell Junior has received demerits a number of times for his physical violence upon Kieron.”
Jet looked positively bewildered at that last statement — he was almost always with Kieron. When else had Hoyt hurt him? He tried not to clench his hands into fists, gritting his teeth, staring daggers at the other student, only coming out of his own thoughts when the Redwells began to express outrage.
“I’m sorry,” Olivier was saying, lifting his hands in mild disapproval at their outbursts. “It’s out of my hands. The board has very strict policies regarding this sort of thing.”
“This sort of thing?” Hoyt Redwell Senior snarled, all but coming around the desk and trying to tower over the Headmaster. “Thing? My son was insulted, defended himself, and–”
“Mister Redwell,” Olivier said, standing tall, leaning in over Redwell easily. “Your son’s actions put two students and a prefect in the infirmary. One of the students had to be released to the care of a hospice house. Over the last two days, the investigation has… revealed the truth of the matter, and these families will all be pressing charges. I am sorry, but the decision is made. As of this moment, Hoyt’s expulsion is final.”
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer,” Redwell Senior snapped, and then ordered his wife and son from the room. They all began to stalk out, walking past Jet, who remain standing, as he was bid. As Hoyt Junior went by, he leaned in, hissing, “You and Brody? You’re fucking dead.”
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