The Saturday Boy
Chapter 31 - True Colours
"So how are things?" Dean asked, emotionless, and I tried to ignore it.
"Yeah they're good, really good in fact," I replied as we walked out of school.
"So how come you wanna hang out all of a sudden?"
"Because it's long overdue we did, and I miss you."
"Cut the crap, you miss me? If you could do it easily enough, I'm sure you'd drop me now that you've got lover boy."
"I haven't been the friend lately that I should have been, I get that, but if you think I wanna drop you, you're mistaken, Dean."
"Well, time will tell, but I'm pissed you haven't called like you said you would."
"Dean, I get it, I've been a selfish, unreliable prick, and I'm really sorry. I'm hoping you can get past that and our friendship can continue, because I can't turn the clock back."
"Are you asking me to forgive you?"
"In a way, yeah!"
"Fine, I forgive you, c'mon, we need to get this," he said, starting to walk faster as our bus pulled into the stop.
"We've got time, look at the queue."
I didn't know if Dean had forgiven me, but it was a start. He was right, I'd neglected him these past few weeks, and he had every right to be pissed off. We reached the back of the line and waited patiently for the other kids to get on the bus.
"So how's Jack, he's back at school Monday, yeah?"
"Do you care, Dean, or are you just making conversation?"
"Hey, what happened to him was shit, I do care. What I don't care much for is you dumping your friends for your love life," he barked.
"I said I was sorry… and yeah, Jack's back at school on Monday, and he's almost over his ordeal."
"So what the setup with you two? Is he, like, staying at your parent's pub indefinitely?"
"Dean, move forward… Uh, I don't really know what's happening long-term, but for now, yeah, he's staying. My mum says he can stay as long as he needs, and so does my dad, surprisingly... that's another story to tell you by the way… what happened with my dad, I mean."
"Yeah, oh god indeed… Dean look, keep moving, will you, otherwise people are gonna push in," I said as he just stood there, too busy chatting to see the line had moved down.
We eventually got on the bus, but had to stand, it was packed. Dean shoved one of Tommy's friend's when he muttered something under his breath about me. It was good to see that part of Dean hadn't changed, at least he was still willing to go the mile for me. I gave the kid a wry smile as if to remind him who I was friends with, which was met with a dirty look right back at me.
"Fuck off, Grissom, let the faggot fight his own battles!" came a rant from the kid, his pride obviously bruised.
"Sorry, do we know each other?" asked Dean, lunging forward at the stupid guy.
"What chu gunna do, punk, hit me?"
Dean answered the question in typical Dean style, and landed a strike right on the kid's chin. He fell back into a group of his friends, who had suddenly gone quiet.
"If any more of you fuck faces wanna end up like your pal there, then bring it on! If not, then keep your fucking comments about my friend to yourself!" Dean snapped, flexing his muscles at them. Right then and there I could have hugged him, not giving a shit what anyone thought, and I beamed a smile.
"Joey, sweetheart, I'm so pleased to see you, come, come in." Dean's mum gushed, pulling me inside and hugging me.
"Hey Sarah, good to see you too," I said, muffled by her bosom.
"Vince, Joey's here, isn't that nice… my Joey, still as handsome as ever, how is your brother?"
"Oh, he's not well right now; he might have a water infection, so my mum thinks."
"Been dipping his wick into unknown places, has he?" She asked, before giggling.
"Oops, sorry, me and my mouth… so how are your parents, Joey? Still busy running that pub?"
"Oh you know, they're fine, same ol, same ol."
"Aww, well come through and I'll make you both a drink, I'm sure Vince would like to say hello... I said I'm sure you'd like to say hello to Joey, wouldn't you Vince?" She called, leading us through to the kitchen. Vince was sitting at the table reading his paper, as usual. It felt like that was all he did when he wasn't out in the taxi, working.
"Hey Vince, not out on the circuit today?"
"Too many cabs out at the moment, Joey, not worth going out and sitting at some rank, I might as well be here."
I nodded, before having a glass of coke shoved in my hand. "So how's that boyfriend of yours, is he all healed up now?"
"Yeah, he's much better now, thanks Sarah, thanks for asking."
"Hmm, I bet you're both going at it like rabbits now, right?" I almost spat my coke out all over the floor, as I felt heat charge into my cheeks. Dean looked just as mortified, and even Vince was looking over his newspaper with his jaw open.
"Mum, you… you…" Dean was lost for words, in fact I think we all were.
"Oh, Joey, ignore these two, they live in the past. I think it's great seeing two lovely handsome lads together, God I remember how great sex was at your age…"
"Right that's it, c'mon Joey, let's go upstairs before I die!"
"Uh, yeah, no worries," I said nervously, following him up the stairs to his room.
"She's certainly a free spirit, your mum, Dean," I remarked, before bursting out laughing.
"She's a fucking liability, that's what she is," he replied, throwing himself on his bed. I closed the door and found a space on the end. "So I guess I should tell you, Shaun's funeral is Wednesday."
"Oh, wow… uh, so you're going right?"
"Yeah, of course," he said, surprised that I'd ask.
"And I take it I'm still not going?"
"If you're asking me if his mum has changed her mind, then no, I'm sorry. I did put a good word in for you, you know, about how long you two were friends, but it just went over her head."
"She blames me, it's not something that's ever gonna change, Dean. Bah, forget it, I'm not gonna make a big thing out of it, I'll just go along with what she wants. Last time I tried to do what I thought was right, I got a slap from my brother."
Dean chuckled. "Roman busted you… really?"
"Yeah, I think I push him a little too far."
"A little… man, Roman has the patience of a saint, you must have really ruffled his feathers."
"Hmm, well I pushed him over and he grazed all his back, plus a bunch of other stuff I said and did, I was being an ass."
"No, you don't say," he said, smirking.
"Hey, does the school know about Shaun's funeral? I heard they were supposed to be having a minute's silence on the day."
"I'm not sure, his parents have been like zombies since he died, I'm not sure telling the school has been top of their list."
"No, I guess not. Are you going to say anything?"
"Not my place, I don't wanna tread on his parents shoes. But come to think of it, once all this is out of the way I won't really have a reason to see them anymore, it's really sad, actually."
"Well you know my feelings on them, which I won't repeat. I think, to be honest, the best thing they could do now is move away… try and get away from the bad memories of their house and the area."
"I did ask them about that, but again, they hadn't thought about it. It took long enough for them to release Shaun's body, apparently. I think they're just concentrating on getting his funeral arranged before they do anything else."
"Yeah, I guess so."
"I'm really glad you came over, Joey," Dean remarked, trying hard to hide his emotions.
"Aww, thanks Dean, I'm really glad I came over too, we have loads to catch up on."
"So start with your dad, what happened there?"
"Oh god, well…"
I went into the details about our strange breakfast at McDonalds, and how he had gone all mushy over what Ryan had said about his life. I then told him about Ryan and how Joanne had been sacked. He was hanging on my every word, demonstrating that even someone like Dean loves a bit of gossip.
"There's something about him I just don't like," I said, pulling my knees up to my chin.
"Who, the Irish guy?"
"Yeah, he just looks fake, and sounds fake. I can't put my finger on it, but he was all over Jack with his eyes like some letch and it made me shiver."
"Are you sure this isn't just about the fact that he fancied Jack?" asked Dean, giving me one of those over the glasses looks.
"No, there's something else… I just don't trust him. But hey, my mum thinks he's amazing, and my dad thinks he's so hard done by."
I chuckled. "Me? I just think he's a prick!" Dean laughed, and then took a healthy sip of his coke.
"You know, this is just like the old days, us sitting here. Except we're one down."
"Yeah I know, it's pretty sad, but hey, I agree, it is like the old days and I hope we have many more of these," I said, and held my coke glass out for a clink.
We'd moved onto another subject, happily chatting away, when there was a knock at the door. Dean's mum walked in and smiled.
"Joey, I just wanted to ask if you'd like to stay for dinner?"
"Oh nice, thanks Mrs G, what's cooking?"
"Roast chicken, and all the trimmings."
"Sign me up, I'm loving you more each day, Sarah!"
"Flattery, young man, will get you everywhere… anyway, it'll be about forty minutes, I'll leave you boys to it… and please try and cheer my son up, he's been miserable all week," she said, and left the room, closing the door behind her.
I looked at Dean, as if wanting him to answer for his mum's statement.
"I've been fine, just a little hacked off with life, it's OK though, I'm not about to slit my wrists."
"Not funny, Dean," I said, frowning. "So what's up with life?"
"Duh… my best friend killed himself!"
"Mine too, but I get that you're more affected by it than I am, for obvious reasons."
"Let's not go into this Joey, you know I don't agree with how you feel about this, but it's not for me to tell you how to feel, I guess."
"Yeah let's not ruin it, I'm having a nice time here, all I'll say is that I've grieved for him, but in my own way, and privately. Now, I just want to move on, because there's nothing I can do to change the fact that he's dead. If I don't move on, it'll drive me insane in the end."
"Yeah, yeah, I get it… so, how are you feeling about Jack returning to school on Monday?"
"Scared shitless, and more for him than me! Most of the assholes, who I know will taunt him, can't comprehend that he's just lost his mother, all they care about is showing off in front of their pals."
"How does he feel?"
"He doesn't say a lot about it, I think he knows how worried I am, but I do think he's mentally preparing for it, though, he must be."
"Well, we only have two more months, Joey, and then we're out of there."
"Yeah, and I never thought I'd say it, but I can't fucking wait. To think, I used to love school, but now all I see around me is poison. Have you thought about what you're gonna do?"
"When I leave?"
"Depends on how well the exams go, but I think I'm gonna go to college, I wanna do something in business."
"You wanna run your own business or you wanna be a manager of someone else's?"
"Not sure, but it's a good course and quite wide ranging, I doubt I'll go to Uni, I'm just not that bright."
"Rubbish, Toby plans to go to Uni and all he does is skateboard and run, he's never been interested in anything academic, so if he can get in then you can."
"We'll see, besides, I might end up with a good enough job after college, and I'd rather be earning some money sooner rather than later."
"Yeah, perhaps we could go on holiday together again, when you're rich."
"You'll be rich before me, Joey."
Dean and I continued to chat for a while, going from subject to subject, until Sarah came and knocked on the door to tell us dinner was ready. She was an excellent cook, managing to make any kind of meat just melt in the mouth. We all sat at the table and began tucking in, the conversation light and cheery.
"Olly seems like a decent guy," Dean remarked, putting a whole slice of chicken in his mouth.
"Yeah, he is, parents are loaded as well, I think."
"What makes you say that?" Sarah asked.
"I went round his place the other day, the house is huge and he's got this cupboard all to himself with all these treats in it, and his room… man, his room is awesome, he's got everything in it!"
"Money isn't everything, Joey," Vince said, chomping away.
"Oh I know, I'm not envious or anything, just an observation."
"Olly is new at your school, yes?" Sarah asked.
"That's right, he just moved to the area, he seems to be settling in OK. He joins us for lunch as well now, right Dean?"
"Yeah, I like him, nothing seems to bother him."
"Wish I could be like that," I said, thinking how highly strung I was compared to Orca.
"You have responsibilities, Joey, does this Olly?"
"Dunno, Sarah, I don't think he works, but then, he doesn't need to, he's an only child and has a mother that spoils him rotten. But he doesn't let it go to his head, I happen to think he's quite humble, actually."
"Seems it," Dean added.
Before long, I was polishing my plate with my last Yorkshire pudding before putting my knife and fork down.
"Sarah, that was amazing, thanks so much for letting me stay for dinner."
"You're always welcome here, Joey, it's a shame we don't see you more often," she said, and I could see Dean looking at me out of the corner of my eye.
"I'll try and get round more often, it's just been a…"
"Hectic time… Yeah Joey, that's the excuse you always use," Dean finished for me.
"Well it has, I'm not making it up."
"Well hopefully you'll be able to hang out more, now things have settled down."
"You can bet on it."
It was approaching eleven in the evening, and Dean I were still chatting. I'd had such a great night with him that I totally forgot about the time, until my phone started ringing.
"Hold on Dean, it's Jack," I said, sliding the screen to accept the call.
"Hey you, I know what you're gonna say, I'm sorry, I forgot about the time."
"No worries, I just thought I'd call to make sure you're OK?"
"Yeah, I'm good, I should have checked in, has Mum said anything?"
"No, they're just locking up now, although Ryan has been asking where you were. I've spent some time down in the bar tonight, I was bored."
"Why does he wanna know where I am…? Oh, and I hope he's been keeping his greasy mitts off you."
"Yeah, yeah, don't worry, he's been behaving himself."
"Well, good… anyway I'm gonna leave in a sec, I need to get the tube before the last train goes."
"Yeah OK, come whenever you want, just as long as you're OK."
"Don't worry about me, nothing's gonna stop me from giving you some loving tonight," I said, causing Dean to roll his eyes, probably cringing. "I'll see you soon, OK?"
"Yeah cool, love you, see you soon."
"Love you too, bye."
I hung up the phone and told Dean that I needed to get going. I forced him to give me a hug, and then trotted downstairs to find Sarah and Vince. Sarah was in the lounge, watching some nondescript movie, while Vince, I was told, had gone out to work in his taxi. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and headed towards the front door, where Dean saw me off. Giving him a wave, I headed down the street and across the road to pick up the tube train, starting my journey for home.
As I reached the platform, a train was just coming into the station. Relieved that I wouldn't have to wait ages, I waited for the doors to open and hopped on. It was pretty busy inside the carriage, as people were starting to make their way home from the various pubs and clubs. I looked around me, feeling like I was the only sober one there. I stood there, silently chuckling to myself as I heard the nonsense that comes out of people mouths, as it tends to do when people get drunk.
I noticed people start to look at me, and suddenly realised I was still in my school uniform. It probably looked strange to see someone like me out so late and still dressed for school, I mused, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. I'd learned really quickly from living at a pub that people can be quite unpredictable when they've had a few drinks.
The train was soon pulling into my station, and I was happy to get off. The noise was horrendous and the smell of late night fast food was permeating the carriage and my clothes, it was disgusting. As soon as the doors opened, I rushed off towards the barrier gates and tapped my card on the panel, making the flaps open. Reaching fresh air at the top of the stairs, I stopped for a second and took in a deep breath.
It was approaching midnight as I walked towards the pub. Traffic was light, and the whole road seemed quiet tonight, void of people. A fox ran across the road, probably taking advantage of how quiet it actually was.
As I got nearer to the pub, it looked in complete darkness. All the lights that lit up the various signage we had were off, and there didn't seem to be any lights on upstairs. It must have been another quiet Friday, as I'd have expected mum and dad to still be locking up at around this time, but it looked like they'd taken advantage of that quietness and gotten an early night for once. Jack must have been asleep as well, because our bedroom was in total darkness too.
I stopped outside the main doors and unzipped my bag, looking for my keys, when a familiar voice startled me. "Hey, Joey, out late tonight?"
"Oh, shit, Ryan, you scared me! Yeah I was at a friend's house. You were working tonight, I gather? What are you still doing here? The pub is deserted."
"Oh, uh… I left something in the kitchen by the side door, I thought I'd wait around for a while to see if you came back so I could grab it."
"Oh well, in that case I'll open the side, then, follow me," I said, unlocking the side garden gate quietly, letting Ryan through. Locking it back up again, I led on towards the side door that led to the pub kitchen and the apartment upstairs. As I was selecting the key, I felt Ryan's presence close behind me.
"Do you have to stand so close, you're freaking me out,"
"Ah, C'mon, you cant tell me you don't want me?"
"Excuse me? Where ever did you get that impression?"
"I've seen the way you look at me, and I waited around all this time for you. You at least need to give me credit for commitment."
"I happen to be in a happy relationship if you hadn't noticed, and would you mind keeping you voice down, you'll wake everyone up."
Ryan began to run his fingers through my hair, the contact making me flinch."
"Ryan, I'm really not into this, and you are just making yourself look desperate. Now, do you really have anything in the pub to collect or do you just want to leave right now?"
Before he could answer, the side door suddenly opened and Roman appeared.
"Joey, get in here," he said, pulling me inside by the arm, glaring at Ryan. "I've been watching you," he hissed at Ryan.
"Get off our fucking property, and stay the fuck away from my brother. You don't work here anymore, got it?"
"Eh, I think you'll find this is your parents business, you have no jurisdiction here, wide boy."
"Roman, just leave it, he's not worth it," I said holding my brother back.
"Well for one night only, I'm calling the shots, and as I said, you don't work here anymore. Come back here and I'll remove you myself, along with my father who trusts my judgement on punks… desperate, dirty little punks."
With that Roman shut the door in his face and I saw Ryan move away through the frosted glass.
"You OK?" he asked, putting his arm round me.
"I am now, thanks, he was creeping me out."
"I thought I would wait up for you, seeing as In I can't sleep with the pain I'm in…Jesus it was hard to stand there and talk to him feeling like this."
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