Felix hopped onto the school bus, passing the driver and greeting him, then sat down in the first seat on his right behind him. He sighed and slipped out his iPod and green and grey headphones from his bag and slipped them on. He turned on his favorite song and nodded his head to the beat. He opened one eye and saw Ryan also board the bus and take a seat alone halfway down the aisle. Felix slipped his headphones onto his neck and called to him.
"Hey Ryan! Want to sit over here?" he asked.
Ryan showed no sign he had heard and instead turned to look out the window. Felix decided to move over to him. He liked Ryan: he wanted him to be his friend. He grabbed his bag and sat in the seat in front of the one Ryan was sitting at. He could see Ryan was purposely trying not to look at him. "Ryan? Hey, are you okay?" he reached out a hand to tap the silent boy when he turned his head quickly to him. Felix gasped.
Ryan's cheeks were covered in tears falling slowly down and there was a dark fresh bruise on the side of his head.
"Whoa..Ryan, what happened to you?" Felix asked sympathetically. Ryan was silent for a moment but did not answer. It was obvious that someone had hit him.
"I...I tripped. And..hi-hit my head." he lied. Felix narrowed his eyes.
"Ryan, it's obvious you're not that clumsy. Please tell me right now, who hit you? I won't tell anyone if that's what you want.." Felix promised. He gazed into Ryan's deep blue eyes.
"J-Jeremy..an-and Ross..and David.." Those were a few of the names from the group he had sat with, Felix remembered guiltily.
"Why did they hit you, Ryan?"he asked.
"..." Ryan looked a way for a moment.
"Ryan..You know you can tell me.." he frowned.
"They didn't like tha-that I don-don't talk to the-them.." Ryan's sobs were coming in gasps. "The-they just followed me whe-when I left the bu-building ah-and.." More tears were streaming down his face.His voice broke off into a sob. Felix couldn't take it any more, so he got up, walked around to the seat behind him, and gave Ryan a big hug. "Shh, it's okay, please don't cry, Ryan, please.." Felix said, though his voice was muffled.
Ryan couldn't believe he had actually just been hugged by someone, let alone Felix. He would have pushed him away, but he felt happy for once, despite being in pain. He felt like it were hours in his new friend's arms, though it was only seconds. Deep down, Ryan knew he had also been called names, like some swears like "bitch" or worse words like "faggot." Ryan didn't want to tell Felix because he didn't want him to get involved, or also targeted. Ryan was already used to it, and he didn't want the same thing happen to Felix. Felix let go of the hug and asked if he could sit next to him. Ryan nodded and moved his backpack to the floor. Felix smiled at him, and Ryan returned it. When it was Ryan's turn to get off, Felix got out of the seat to let him pass. He said his goodbyes and Ryan got off. Felix noticed that the houses in this neighborhood were incredibly small, and Felix's eyes narrowed in sympathy. When Ryan was out of the bus, he gave a small wave and a small smile, and Felix waved back. He opened the window and shouted "Goodbye! See you tomorrow!" Ryan's smile grew, then fell as the bus sped away, leaving Ryan behind. Felix closed the window and sat back down in his own seat next to his backpack. When he got to his stop, he was dropped off down the street from his new home. When he finally walked all the way home, he unlocked the door with a brand-new spare housekey, and walked in. There were boxes still scattered around the house and some by the door that were barely open.
"I'm home!" he called to his parents in Swedish. His call was answered with silence, so he guessed that they weren't home. He walked up to his room where a mattress was out on the floor, his bunk bed not yet arrived from the moving people. Some things took a bit longer to arrive than others. He dropped his bag by the door, and flopped awkwardly and exhaustedly on the mattress.
The next week continued that he stayed by Ryan's side at all times so that no one dared bother him. He regrettably broke his promise to Ryan by walking up to Jeremy a few days later and said that if he bothered Ryan, he would have to go through him first and that he wouldn't dare touching him again. He also told Mr. S about it, and the boys were forced to apologize to Ryan, and spend their entire lunch hour for the next week with the AP. Ryan was only a bit upset at Felix for telling, but he quickly forgave him and they shared their victory in winning over the bullies together. One day in the next week Felix and Ryan were laying on their stomachs on the floor, coloring in a large poster. Ryan looked up.
"Hey Felix, wanna come over today?" Ryan asked hopefully. Felix also looked up. It was the first time he had asked him if he wanted to spend time together outside of school.
"Sure!" he responded cheerfully. "I'll call my mom from the office when we're leaving school today and ask her." When Felix saw fright in his friend's eyes, he quickly added "you can sit in the office with me, don't worry about it." He heard Ryan sigh in relief. When it got to be the end of the day, they both stopped by the office, and Ryan took a seat as Felix stood over the phone and dialed the number. Ryan twiddled with his fingers nervously as he prayed they would say yes. He looked over to Felix.
"K, love you." he answered and hung up the phone. He smiled to Ryan as he nodded. "Yep! As long as I call my mom later to tell her where you live so she can pick me up at some point." Felix explained.
"Yes!" Ryan exclaimed excitedly. "Come on!" he called as he got up. "Let's get to the bus!"
"Of course!" Felix smiled, following his friend. They dashed for the bus that was about to leave, and laughed together once they found a seat. The kids on the bus gave them a few small, curious glances, but none really paid them any attention. Once Felix realized it was Cry's stop, he grabbed his things and got off after him. He told the bus driver he'd be getting off here, and to remember to skip his stop. The bus driver nodded and said goodbye, closed the bus door and drove away.
"Okay. Where to?" Felix asked.
"Hold on." Ryan smiled, "there's something I need to pick up from the grocery store down the street. You'll wait outside for me, won't you?"
"Felix smiled and nodded. "What is it?" he asked curiously.
"You'll see." Ryan smiled back.
They walked a long way down the road, passed a few blocks until they reached the small grocery store. Felix waited outside in the warm sun while Ryan went in and bought something. Felix's stop was usually after Ryan's, and his own neighborhood. After a few minutes, Ryan came out with a small plastic bag, grinning.
"What's in?" Felix asked.
"It's a surprise!" Ryan replied.
Felix followed Ryan for a while longer, until they reached a small park, or dog run, that was about equal distance between their houses. They sat down near some thick bushes, near some trees. Ryan dumped the contents of the bag. Ryan bought a small carton of cream, and a tin of sardines.
"A picnic?" Felix asked. "Well um, thanks, but you can keep the sardines." Ryan laughed.
"No, these aren't for you." Ryan giggled. His voice suddenly went into a whisper. "Just watch." Out from his bag he pulled out an empty plastic container, and opened the spout for the cream, and poured all the cream in.
"Um.." Felix murmured, confused. Ryan ignored him and then opened the tin rectangular package for the sardines and pulled one out. He stood up slowly, and walked slowly to the bushes. "Heeeere Stephano..Come out baby.." Ryan sang softly, waving the sardine around. After a few moments, some rustling came from the bushes. Before Felix's eyes, appeared a small golden tabby kitten out of the bushes.
"Aw!" Felix exclaimed loudly and went over to pet the purring young kitty.
"Felix, allow me to introduce Stephano. He's wild, but I play with him every now and again." Ryan smiled and gave the kitten the sardine, which it nibbled on.
"Can I give it one?" Felix asked enthusiastically.
"I thought you didn't like sardines." Ryan said matter-of-factly.
"I don't like eating them, but Stephano does. Give me one." Felix instructed. Ryan nodded and handed him a small slimy sardine. He held it up above the curious kitten and he batted it with a small paw, and Felix dropped it and the kitten nibbled at too. Ryan smiled approvingly as he pushed the container of cream to the kitten, where he sniffed at it and eventually lapped at it thirstily. After it had quickly drank the whole thing, Ryan explained that he's not allowed to have a cat, but was lucky enough to discover Stephano. "He lives in this park. I get him sardines and he's my responsibility."
"You know, I can bike here from my house. Maybe tomorrow we could meet up here and play with him again." Ryan thought that was a great idea. After playing for almost an hour with Stephano, Ryan explained quickly that today the house was a mess but it was being cleaned later in the day, so Felix couldn't play at his house. Felix nodded and understood, but they played hide-and-seek in the bushes, and planned what they'd bring to have a real picnic. When it was starting to get a bit darker, Ryan and Felix said goodbye and walked in opposite directions home, remembering first to see if Stephano was okay first before saying goodbye to the kitten too. When Felix finally got home and explained to his mom that Ryan lived within biking range, his mother agreed that he could meet up with him tomorrow. Felix later on had a shower then changed into his pajamas, climbing into bed later and switching off the light. As he drifted off to sleep, Felix wondered what Ryan's house was like. It didn't really matter, he'd see it someday anyway. But he concentrated on getting to sleep because the sooner he slept, the sooner he'd see Ryan again.