The bell rang, signalling the start of morning break. Michael swaggered out of the sixth form computer room and headed for the tennis courts behind the main building. He could already see a few of the others that hung around there; they all had a certain look about them: a bit paler than the other kids, a bit less cared-for. As he fished around in his jacket pocket for his baccy and Rizzla, Michael scanned the backs of heads to see who had turned up today. There was Byron with his arm casually draped around Tally, Oliver and Alex were kicking a crushed can around in place of a football and Ava was sat on the wall, headphones on, swinging her legs out from where she sat and kicking them back into the wall rhythmically. Michael dropped his rolling gear and headed straight for her.
"Shit, Mike, you scared me!" Ava giggled as Michael twanged her headphones against her right ear whilst he nuzzled her left with his lips.
"I'm just getting started," he breathed, working his hand across her throat and down the front of her blouse, deftly undoing two buttons before Ava had a chance to protest further. He wanted her, he had done since he'd first arrived at this school a couple of months ago. The was something so sexy and wild about her, but kind of innocent and vulnerable at the same time, like she was just playing at being a bad girl. And Michael planned to take advantage of her reputation the first chance he got.
"Jesus, you two! Get a room!" jeered Alex, "you're giving Ollie cheapies!"
Ollie had stopped kicking the can and was stood, glaring at Michael, fists clenching, the colour rising on his cheeks. Michael glanced up from Ava's neck and realised it wasn't cheap thrills Ollie was after, it was a fight. Good. He slowly withdrew his hands and stood up, squaring his shoulders.
"You want something?"
Ollie tilted his head and grinned coldly. "Yeah, for you to keep you fucking hands off my girlfriend".
Michael stifled a laugh. Girlfriend? Ava put out for everyone!
"What's so funny?" Ollie asked, moving forwards now, tense and twitchy and spoiling to smash that smirk off Michael's face.
"Nothing at all mate," Michael soothed, "nothing at all. I was just warming her up for you".
The red words hung in the air, taunting Ollie, who then charged at Michael and head butted him. Michael staggered back, holding his nose, spitting blood. Ollie was advancing again and Michael knew he wasn't in any fit state to fight back for very long - his nose was clearly broken and was gushing blood, he was still reeling from the impact of Ollie's head against his face and felt like he would pass out soon. And then he'd be dead meat, totally defenceless against Ollie's kicks and stamps. Better take him down now then.
Michael's fist connected with the underside of Ollie's jaw, throwing his head back at an unnatural angle. They all watched him lose his footing and stumble back, falling like someone had pulled the Tarmac from under his feet. Slow motion. Fingers grasping at air, inaudible words on his lips. Silence.
And then the sound of the back of his skull hitting the kerb behind him.
They all knew he wasn't getting back up.
Alex ran to Ollie's side and tugged at his shoulder. "Come on, man. What you playin' at?" He tugged harder. "Come on, Ollie! Seriously, stop messing about and get up."
The girls were crying, Byron turning them away from the scene. And Michael just stood there, staring at Ollie, staring back at him with empty eyes. He needed to disappear. Fast.
It had been an accident, Michael told himself as he made his way to his locker, self-preservation. Certainly, if he hadn't knocked Ollie out, he would have been in a hospital bed with god knows how many broken bones. Except he hadn't knocked Ollie out. He'd killed him. Michael had been in trouble before, lots in fact, but nothing as bad as this. And there'd been witnesses. Fuck. He didn't really have a plan, he was just collecting the useful things he had in his locker - a hoody, his sketchbook and a spare pouch of tobacco - and then he'd run to the station, get on a train and find a new city to fade into.