The scene where Joe hits Lucas felt a little unresolved. I wanted to show some background on Lucas. This is the first story I ever submitted online, so don't be afraid to let me know what's good or bad about it.
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, but the idea is.
"Say it again", says Joe, very irritated.
"Superb", replies Lucas.
"You little shit!" yells Joe.
"Joe, that's my shoulder." He states as though it isn't common information.
"Get in there!" shouts Joe, while throwing Lucas into his office. Joe follows him in and slams the door shut behind him.
One step into the room and he grabs Lucas, roughly shoving him into the wall.
Joe's fist crashes into Lucas's jaw and he slides down the wall to the ground. His hands raise up over his head in a learned automatic gesture of self-protection.
"Awww no, please? Please don't..." Lucas is suddenly reduced to a frightened child and Joe's eyes widen, realising what he has done, as he takes a step back.
Lucas remains still on the floor, in the same defensive position but his eyes are jammed shut and he is silent. Waiting.
"You deserved that, right? You know that…" Joes seems to be talking to himself more than Lucas.
"I know, I'm sorry", replies Lucas, opening wide eyes that dart around the room terrified.
"Get up…You're okay, I won't hit you again. You're alright." Joe offers Lucas a hand to help him up. But Lucas still dazed looks at the hand apprehensively and instead gets to his feet on his own.
"I'm not him. I wouldn't ever hurt you, not like he did." Says Joe, trying to reassure Lucas, but his words don't seem to push through his actions. Lucas, in two quick steps bolts to the door, jerking it open as he runs blindly out of the shop. Joe runs a hand through his hair and sighs as he catches sight of his reddened knuckles as he lowers his arm.
Lucas sits high above the traffic, the defective neon sign behind him as he watches cars pass below. Years ago he would have given anything to be in a car, just going. The destination wouldn't have mattered at all, so long as the miles behind him were measurable. But this place... of all the places he's lived, this place feels like home. The idea that might change is painful. He's no longer a child; he doesn't require anyone's say-so. He can leave if and when he wants to. It's the thought that Joe is just like the others that he's struggling with. Then again people pretend to be things all the time.
He's pulled from his thoughts as he hears someone step out onto the gravel of the roof, taking slow, light steps towards him. He knows who it is without looking, has learned the footfalls of what he considers his family.
"Hey bonehead", says Debra as she moves to sit beside him, but facing out over the roof instead of dangling her legs over the open edge like Lucas. He turns and tries to work up a smile for her but it ends up vague and undefined on his solemn face.
"Hi Deb", he replies with fake enthusiasm that has her eyebrow rising.
"So…what was all that about with Joe?" she questions. That's Deb, always straight to the point.
Lucas isn't quite sure himself. But he'll try to answer for Deb, it's not often her care-and-share side appears.
"I was doing my best to piss him off and I guess it worked." Lucas laughs self-depreciatingly before continuing.
"He dragged me into his office but I guess you guys probably saw that." He looks at Deb for the first time and she nods both in response and encouragement.
"He pushed me around a bit and then he hit me. He just...hit me." Lucas sighs, running a hand through his hair, a trait he has evidently picked up from Joe. Silence washes over them for a few long moments and Deb expects this is as much as he's capable of sharing at the moment when his voice interjects.
"When I was little my mom had this boyfriend, after my dad had left her." She can see his hands shaking where they fidget with a piece of gravel while he continues to stare down into the street.
"He was drunk pretty much...well all the time I guess. When he ran out of beer or had a bad day it was my fault. God, did he make sure I knew it. He smacked me around; he seemed to enjoy it, y'know? There was always this self-satisfied look on his face whenever he did it. And my mom, she never stopped him. Never…four years it lasted, until she threw me out and put me in the system. Maybe that was her act of mercy."
Lucas glances at her briefly before looking out over the town and the raw pain in his eyes is hard to miss. He puts the gravel down onto the brick beside him and runs his hands through his short hair while sighing.
Deb, sober expression on her face watches as some of the weight he's been carrying lifts a little. She reaches for his hand as she stands, tugging a little. He swings his legs round and she pulls the hand more to get him to his feet, bringing him into a rare Deb hug. She doesn't say sorry, doesn't say anything actually because she understands and that doesn't require words. When they pull apart again Lucas rubs at the back of his neck and clears his throat a little awkwardly.
"I've uh, never told anybody about that, not even..." He trails off.
"I'm sure he didn't mean for it to be like that Lucas. He just got pissed off. You were kinda asking for it after all." At the small smile tugging Lucas's lips she grins. "I mean was it some sort of timebomb experiment? How many times can I say superb before Joe cracks?" He smirks at that and she knows she has her answer.
"Come on then, work to do." She says nudging him playfully as she heads back across the roof and he nudges back. Just before the step back inside he calls her name.
"Deb", she turns in acknowledgement, "I uh..."
"It's cool." She says recognising his thank you. He nods in gratitude and watches her head in first before taking a deep breath and doing the same.
Upon entering the store Lucas spots Joe on the phone in his office. Joe acknowledges him with a wave and Lucas nods. He heads straight for the couch where he was supposed to have stayed and sits down to wait.
A few minutes later Joe appears in the doorway of his office and walks over to the couch where Lucas is sitting.
"You alright?" he asks Lucas while lowering himself onto the couch.
"Yeah…" Lucas replies genuinely.
Joe pulls a paper towel out of his pocket and dabs at the small cut above Lucas's eyebrow. Lucas takes a hold of the tissue and presses it against his head with a knowing grin. Joe smiles and ruffles Lucas's hair before getting up and walking out into the store.
Everything was of course alright, because Joe could never be the bad guy. Joe was his saviour.
So there it is. I hope that wasn't too painful to read. Don't feel obligated to review, I know I rarely remember to.