Brad was staring at her intently, his eyes locked on the pendant hanging against the hollow of her throat, bobbing as she talked, shaking a little so the prestinely kept metal shimmered against the lights above, hitting against her throat. Her tantalizing, caramel colored, soft, smooth, tender throat, that Brad was exercising great self control in not stabbing through with his pencil. It was getting increasingly more difficult with every annoying word that left her fake, painted lips.
He continuously tapped the eraser end of his pencil against his desk as he let his chin sit in his other hand, his elbow propped against the desk top, on top of all his papers, which for once he would have been delighted to be stuck with, rather than dealing with this paper doll. It only made him angrier when his eyes kept landing on that heart shaped pendant. He hated to admit that he was the one who bought it for her, but it wasn’t like he had a choice with the constant whining in his ear and screaming like a five year old on a god damn sugar high. He bought it to shut her up, and now it was a symbol of betrayal and pain, the design permanently branded on Andy’s skin.
His hand clenched, and he snapped the pencil in half, but Denise didn’t care, she just kept talking about custody and the fact Chrystal should be with her mommy and not her disgusting freak of a father. He could deal with her annoying voice. He could deal with the way she looked at him like he was a beast. He could deal with the way she was still obviously flaunting her body even though she knew Brad wasn’t interested. He could deal with the insults and the threats and the ear piercing sound of her voice that made him want to claw his eyes out, no big deal. What he couldn’t deal with was when the door opened and his precious little girl came bounding in.
Her curly blonde hair was in a cute pony tail, a big blue bow right at the base to keep it in place, clutching her stuffed dragon under one arm and waving a white paper bag in the other, waving it as she padded over to Brad’s desk and held it up for him, saying proudly, “We got dadda sweets!”
Brad’s expression twisted as he pushed himself back, eyes flashing to Andy, who was carrying a Starbucks drink tray with three cups, a smile on his face, but when his eyes clashed with Denise’s, it fell as fast as the cups in his hands, spilling out on the ground as Brad stood up.
Denise gaped at Andy before confusion flickered across her face, “I thought you were at home,” she said dumbly, and Andy started to back up, hitting the doorframe as Denise’s eyes narrowed and she flipped out her phone, “Hm, someone’s in trouble.”
Andy made a noise of fear, and Brad stepped forward, plucking the phone out of her hand, much to her distress, as she started jumping up and trying to grab it from where Brad held it high above his head, eyes narrowed as he looked over at Andy. He didn’t like the way his face looked, the fact his skin had paled considerably, but he couldn’t do anything about that right now.
“Take Chrys and wait in Casey’s office,” Denise stopped jumping and looked between Brad, Chrystal, and Andy, who nodded furiously and picked the little girl up, hurrying out of the office.
“Chrys? As in Chris? As in Chris Mitchelle?” Denise had a look of disgust on her face, “You named my child after that disgusting suicidal faggot?!”
Brad raised a hand in a move to slap her, but the glee that entered her dark eyes had him calming down and lowering his arm back to his side as he took a step away and looked at the screen of her phone, his heart stopping, “You were calling Rick?” he muttered, looking confused, “Why?”
“Why?” Denise pointed at the door, “To tell him his bitch cousin isn’t locked in his room like we thought!”
Brad’s entire body seemed to bristle, and he clutched the phone tightly in his hand, “Rick is Andy’s cousin?” he asked, and Denise scoffed.
“Yea, Ricky babe has a cousin, I didn’t know either till I went to visit and there he fucking was. He should be at home, but nope. Rick has custody of him, when he finds out that fag left?” she shook her head, and Brad tightened his grip to the point of cracking the screen of her phone, making her shriek, “You bastard! Give it back!”
She flailed again for her cell phone, but Brad held it up above his head. The drastic height difference made it much easier to play keep away, and when she was close enough, he hooked his fingers around her necklace, yanking it and breaking it off. She staggered back, hand on her neck and eyes wide.
“What the fuck was that for?! Give that back, it’s mine!” she reached for it, and Brad took a step back.
“You want your phone or the necklace, I’ll give you one,” he said, and Denise adopted a bitchy face as she scowled.
“You prick. Fine! Give me my phone! I don’t need that piece of trash!”
Brad tossed her the phone, and she stumbled to catch it, shooting Brad a look as she stuffed it into her bra, “Try and get it now, asshole.”
“You think I’m above that?” Brad scoffed, turning around, “Get out, I have work to do.”
“Don’t think I’m done with you!”
“You should be,” Brad turned to her, jabbing a finger against her chest, “I. Am. Gay. And I am not giving Chrystal up to you. You are a horrible mother, a horrible human, and my girl would be dead in a week if she was with you. The court agreed to this, that’s why I have full custody. If you want to try me again in front of a jury, fine, I don’t give a fuck. Who do you think will win the fourth time around, huh?”
Denise sputtered for a moment before giving a scream and slapping Brad across his face, her nails clawing his skin, before spinning around and storming out of his office. He watched her go before raising a hand to touch his face, then looking at the heart pendant, dropping it to the ground and stepping on it with his heel, shattering it.
“Chrysta... is-is that woman your mother?” Andy asked softly, hugging the little girl tight, and she nodded, hugging her dragon, head on his shoulder.
Andy choked, clearing his throat before quickening his steps, “Yea, she is very mean.”
He hadn’t expected that. Brad never really talked about Chrystal’s mother unless he was complaining about her, and never mentioned her by name, so he never had a chance to even assume it could be Denise Alvarez. His hand travelled beneath his hair to the bandage on his temple, where the heart shaped burn was still healing. It took a while to actually get it to start healing, because apparently the Vaseline Brad used didn’t help in the slightest, but proper salve was now covering it, and the bandage was hidden by his bangs.
Denise was here, she saw Andy, and she was going to call Rick. Andy didn’t want to go home, not yet, he was just getting used to feeling safe. He didn’t really want to go to Casey Divine either, but Brad told him to go wait there, so who was he to argue? Maybe he would help.
When he reached the door, he knocked once, and a soft voice called out for him to come in, so he pushed it open and shuffled his way, in, hugging Chrystal and looking around the room until he caught sight of Casey sitting at his desk and Cal leaning against it with that usual childish frown on his face. It turned serious when he noticed Andy, and Casey pushed his chair back away from the desk.
“Can I help you?”
“Andy?” Cal murmured in confusion, “Did something happen?”
“Huh?” Andy let Chrystal down so she could run over and hug Casey, “Oh, no, um... coach asked me to bring her here because her mother is causing trouble.”
Cal sighed and his head tilted, “Again with that bi-.”
“Calvin, there is a child here,” Casey scolded, and Cal held his hands up in defeat as Andy shut the door, holding in a laugh.
“Your full name is Calvin?”
Cal gave a sound of despair and threw his arms in front of him, “Casey look what you did!”
Casey just sighed as he let Chrystal back down so she could run back over to Andy, “So your name is Andy?” he asked, and Andy nodded.
“A-Andrew Watson, I usually go by Andy.”
“I haven’t seen you before.”
Andy rolled his eyes with a little sigh, “Yea, not surprised,” he admitted, walking over to the couch and sitting down, letting Chrystal climb into his lap.
“He’s the one I told you about,” Cal said, and Casey’s head reeled a bit.
“Oh, he is,” he turned to stare at Andy, who tensed up a little, but Casey just smiled, “I see.”
Cal held his hands up, “That’s it? I tell you about all these theories and world war three and you say I see?!”
Casey just scratched at his cheek, shrugging, “Yea. What’s the problem?”
“What’s the problem?!” Cal held his head in his hands, “Ugh! Your brain was boiled somewhere on the way to school today!”
“That’s rude,” Casey said, picking his phone up when it vibrated, “Lex is here for lunch. Maybe he’ll care.”
“Yea, most likely,” Cal complained, then suddenly turned, “Wait, is Brad coming to get you when the bi-aaaahhh- female person leaves?” he smiled innocently at Casey, who was glaring at him.
Andy just looked between them and nodded, “I think so.”
“Eee, yikes,” Cal winced, “This won’t be fun.”
“What?” Casey asked, and Cal looked at him.
“Lex is coming to see you for lunch and Brad’s coming here to pick up his kid... you really wanna see that clash of titans?”
Casey seemed to physically bristle, his head turning so he could stare at the closed door, “Shit, you’re right.”
“Ah, ah! You freaking swore in front of a three year old!”
“Wait, why is it bad for coach and this other guy to meet each other?” Andy asked, and Casey looked uneasily at Cal.
“They don’t exactly get along.”
“How are we supposed to know they’ll run into each other, of all the odds?” Andy asked, and Cal folded his arms.
“The temperature will drop.”
“There will be yelling and blood.”
“Ahhh, fine, jeeze! We don’t know but it’s bound to happen! I mean they’re both coming to the same room!”
“So shouldn’t someone wait for them to make sure they don’t kill each other?” Andy asked, and the room got silent until everyone moved for the door at once.
They all stepped out of the room into the hallway, freezing when they saw they were a bit late and Lex was standing glaring at Brad, who looked a little uneasy but showing no signs of backing away.
Casey immediatly huried over to Lex and wound his arms around his waist, “Calm down, I’m fine,” Lex looped his arm around Casey’s shoulders, his glare unwavering, until he saw Chrystal run over to Brad and latch onto his leg, which had a look of confusion crossing Lex’s face until Casey tugged at his shirt, “I told you he had a kid.”
Lex didn’t reply, he just kept his eyes on Brad as he knelt down so Chrystal could latch her arms around his neck, saying, “Up.”
Brad stood up with her in his arms, eyes moving away from Lex to Andy, “You okay?”
Andy pointed at himself, “Me? Yea, why wouldn’t I be?” Brad just arched an eyebrow, and Andy winced, glaring halfheartedly at him, “I’m fine, jeeze. Is she gone?”
Brad nodded, “I may or may not have broken her phone... and necklace...”
“You know she could sue you for that, right?” Andy asked, and Brad shrugged, looking as if he truly couldn’t care less. Andy sighed and wandered over to stand with him as Cal stood with his back against the wall and his arms folded.
“Uh, right,” Casey smiled at Brad, “Denise again?”
Brad just turned away, “Don’t worry about it. Sorry to bother you.”
He started walking away and Andy ran after him, looking over his shoulder at the three friends before turning his complete attention to Brad, “What wa sthat about?”
“Lex is Casey’s husband,” Brad explained, “We don’t get along much. I used to... harass Casey quite severely.”
“Oh yea, you mentioned him,” Andy folded his hands behind his back, “Well, whatever. He seemed nice. His husband looks a little scary.”
“No kidding,” Brad agreed.
When they turned the corner, Andy stepped closer, reaching up and touching the bandage on his head again, “She was... one of the people who held me down the other night.”
Andy looked up, “How?”
“The burn on your head,” Brad explained, “Same shape as her stupid necklace. I’m the one who got it for her, so I wouldn’t forget.”
“Oh,” Andy said softly, and Brad frowned more.
“I didn’t know Rick was your cousin though,” Andy’s steps slowed and stopped completely, and Brad paused to turn to him, not really liking the look of despair in his green eyes, so he walked back to stand in front of him, “I promised I wouldn’t say anything, so I won’t... but you need to promise to stop keeping things from me. You know that I know him personally, and that’s why you never told me, isn’t it?”
Andy nodded, his head down, “He would talk about you a lot,” he admitted, “Claim you were his best friend, that he idolized you, but... the things he idolized you for were so... fake... he thinks you’re still like that, but... even if I told him otehrwise he’d probably just beat me up for lying like a bitch,” he looked up, “I’m sorry I never told you, but I... I really thought I could handle it on my own.”
Brad sighed and shook his head, “You’re very childish.”
“Shut up!” Andy snapped, blushing, and Brad smiled.
“Like I said, I won’t say anything, but if and when you go back to that house, and I assume it’s only a matter of time considering Denise probably called him,” Andy winced and looked at the ground, “I’d like to go with you. You say he idolizes me, maybe I can talk to him.”
Andy gaped up at him, “You think that would work?”
“Honestly?” Brad scoffed, “No, but if I don’t give him a chance you’ll just get mad at me.”
Andy smiled and shrugged, “That’s true.”
Chrystal reached down from where Brad was holding her, grabbing onto Andy’s shirt and tugging at him to get him closer, “Now kiss.”
“Chrysta,” Brad rolled his eyes as Andy flailed and waved his hands in front of him.
“Don’t be so ridiculous, what would you know, you’re like three! Would you control your spawn?!”
Brad just laughed, and rubbed his chin into Chrystal’s hair, “You’re cute when your face is all red like that.”
Andy gave a squeak and punched at Brad’s chest, “So that where she gets it! You’re teaching her bad things, bad! What happened to having a verbal filter you bastard!”
Brad just laughed more, and Chrystal giggled.
Standing around the corner and leaning against the wall with his arms folded was Cal, who was staring down as he listened in on what was being said, letting his head fall back as he sighed out, shaking his head, “You really have changed, haven’t you, you psycho piece of shit?”
“Cal?” he tensed and looked over to see Jaimie, who looked a little shocked to see his cousin there, “What are you-?”
Cal grabbed him and covered his mouth with a hand, putting a finger to his lips before hauling him over and making him peer around the corner, “I’m watching animal planet,” Cal whispered, and Jaimie turned to smack him in the nose before turning back to peer around the corner.
“Really, I didn’t recognize him,” Cal said nasally, a hand over his nose, “That really hurt you know.”
“He’s actually smiling. Is he sick?”
“No,” Cal leaned over him to peer around the corner, “Unless you mean heart sick, in that case... yea.”
Jaimie held a hand over his mouth when Brad leaned down to kiss Andy’s forehead, making his flailing punches stop dead, his eyes going wide and his face turning beet red as he gaped up at him. Brad just smiled at him and took hold of his chin, keeping him still and kissing him softly.
“Holy... crap,” Jaimie hissed, “Isn’t that kid a student?”
“Why are they kissing?”
“Uh, sexual desire?”
“I swear to god, Cal.”
Andy was scolding Brad when he pulled away, and they were so focussed on each other they didn’t notice when Chrystal turned her head, looking over at Cal and Jaimie, who both squeaked as she waved and stumbled over each other running the opposite direction.
“Who are you waving to?” Brad asked, and Chrystal looked at him.
“A pretty boy with brown eyes.”