Chapter 9:

Friends and Fury

Fair, no Fair

CW: Mention of the f-slur

Joey quickly got up on his feet when he noticed that Georgy and Max were standing behind us. I immediately followed suit. “I thought you were done with this asshole, Simon. I thought you were going to hang out with us from now on,” Georgy spat. His eyes were flaming and the expression of betrayal on his face was truly venomous. “This obsession with Joey has gone on for long enough.”

His vile words took me by surprise and I stuttered: “W-what are you talking about Georgy?” I knew my new friends did not approve of my infatuation with Joey, but I had nonetheless naively assumed Georgy would take my side when push came to shove.

“I can’t stand you circling around this guy, it’s disgusting! Instead of finding real friends, you keep on letting yourself be hurt by this dumbass,” Georgy roared as he threateningly took a step forward. His bitter voice resonated throughout the near-empty hallway, coating every neglected nook and cranny in a layer of unfiltered malice that would linger long after his words had died down. Max silently grabbed his wrist to keep him from coming closer, but it was mostly a symbolic gesture; Georgy did not need his fists to hurt me.

“We live in different worlds, when are you going to realise that?" Georgy's tone briefly revealed a previously hidden layer of desperation, but it was soon pushed aside by his all-consuming anger. "It’s not like he’s ever gonna like you. You're a flamboyant fag and he's a walking high school stereotype with one brain cell who's as straight as a facking ruler.”

I flinched at Georgy's casual use of the f-slur. I felt disgusted to my core. Out of all people, why did it have to be Georgy? This stab in the back only proved to me once more that no one could be trusted, not even my supposed 'friends'. I could not bear to look at him any longer, so I kept silent and kept my eyes on the ground beneath my feet.

Without acknowledging the impact of his words, Georgy raged on. “You know what he’s doing behind your back? I’ll tell you, he’s being all flirty with Isabelle, he is. Everyone’s talking about it...” He shrugged Max’s hand off his wrist. “And you’re too blind to realize! You’ve got plenty of people who care about you, but you just don’t give a shit, do you? All you’re interested in is him.

Joey was just as baffled by Georgy's rampage as I was. At the same time, however, it was clear from his expression that he had no clue what Georgy was going on about. After silently listening to Georgy's hysterical monologue for what seemed to be an eternity, he cleared his throat and spoke up. "Um, listen. Obviously, I'm missing some context here and I may not be the best person to say this, considering -um-, my track record," he awkwardly coughed. "But, even though it's none of my business, I think you need to chill out. Please leave before you say anything you can't take back."

Georgy looked like he was about to murder someone, but fortunately, Max was able to bring him back to reality. "He's right, Georgy. You need to cool off. Maybe it's best if we go," he sighed calmly while putting his hand on Georgy's shoulder. "It's almost time to get back to the bus anyway."

“Are you really going to let Joey get away with this?” Georgy muttered in disbelief. He looked up at his best friend -who occasionally doubled as his voice of reason- with wide eyes. “After all he has done to us? To Simon?!”

“Well, shouting at them is not solving anything, so let’s just go," Max argued. "Save your gunpowder for another day, you can always give him a piece of your mind later." With the help of some gentle coercion from Max, Georgy eventually agreed to leave. He angrily stomped off with Max following in his wake. We could still hear his disgruntled noises of frustration well after he had left the hallway.

“We should go too," I quietly proposed to Joey. The all too familiar pain of an upcoming headache was threatening to split my head in two. "We won't be able to visit another exhibit in the free time we have left."

"I suppose," Joey responded softly. My heart broke a little when I noticed that he was not even looking at me. "See you at the hotel, I guess.”

Joey's expression was completely unreadable as we returned to the main hall and we silently parted ways. My body felt hollow and I was awfully tired, but the worst part was that I recognized that exact feeling; it had felt the same when Joey had first started to distance himself from me. I had felt just as awful when he had started laughing at me, instead of with me. Oh, how things change...

I was slightly startled when Max sat down next to me on the bus. His sharp, olive green eyes darted around in search of his best friend, but when he could not find him, his comforting gaze eventually settled on me. “He doesn’t mean it, you know?" He said in his low, monotonous voice. "Georgy's a hothead, but he'd never hurt you on purpose.”

“Oh do I, now?! Well too late, I'm already hurt!” I snapped back at him. My brain was still processing what had happened and I was too upset to realise that Max was simply caught in the crossfire. "I haven't been friends with you and Georgy for very long, but what friend insults their peers for simply doing something he does not agree with? He called me a slur, for fuck's sake! Why does he even care that I talk to Joey? This does not involve him at all!"

Max raised an eyebrow. "I think Georgy sees that a little differently. To him, it feels like we've been friends forever. 'Underdogs fighting against the oppression of jocks and basic bitches', remember? He's just trying to protect you."

"Protect me from what?" I despairingly exclaimed.

“From getting hurt, I guess,” he shrugged in response, "Or, perhaps, from hurting others. But why ask me? If you want answers, you need to talk to Georgy.”

“Not until he apologizes,” I stubbornly answered. With that, our conversation ended.