Characters: Carol, Bikky, OCs.
Setting: Before the manga.
Summary: Carol was always left out of the games the other kids played, just because they were boys and she was a girl.
Word Count: 1374
Content Notes: None necessary.
Written For: Challenge 65: Girl at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
When Carol wanted to join in the rough and tumble with the boys in the neighbourhood, it was always the same.
“You can’t do the stuff we do, it’s too dangerous!” Derek told her.
“Why? It’s not too dangerous for you!”
“But we’re boys and you’re a girl. You might get hurt and then your old man would box my ears. Girls shouldn’t play the games boys do. My dad says so. Girls should do girl stuff.”
“That’s discrimination!” Carol said hotly, using a word she’d found in the dictionary her dad had bought her for school and knowing the boys probably wouldn’t understand it. “It’s stupid, and it’s not even true! Girls can do anything boys can do!”
“’Course they can’t! Boys are strong and girls are weak. Everybody knows that. And anyway, you’re too little,” Jeff sneered.
“Yeah,” Roger agreed. “You’d just cry. Girls always cry!”
“I wouldn’t,” Carol said confidently, but it was no good. She was a girl and all the boys expected her to play with dolls the way their sisters did. Carol hated dolls; they were boring, so she sat on the stoop instead, reading, or doing schoolwork. The other kids made fun of her for that too, calling her teacher’s pet, bookworm, and stuff like that. She just ignored them. Boys were stupid.
Then a new kid moved into the neighbourhood, a little boy, five years old, with skin the color of coffee, blond hair, and bright blue eyes. He was different, so of course the other kids picked on him too. He shrugged it off with a bravery beyond his years when they called him names, and when nobody wanted to play with him, he plunked himself down on the steps beside Carol.
“Hi, I’m Bikky, what’s your name?”
“Carol,” said Carol, looking down at the top of his head. At the grand old age of eight, and despite being small and slight, she was still bigger than the boy, who seemed small for his age. “Bikky, that’s an odd sort of name, isn’t it?”
The boy shrugged. “It’s Victor really, but I hate being called that. Mom always called me Bikky, except when she was mad at me.” He shot a sidelong glance at Carol. “She died, so we had to move.”
“Yeah? That sucks. My mom died too. I live with my dad.” Carol gestured at the building behind her.
“Me and dad just moved in over there.” Bikky pointed at the brownstone tenement opposite.
“Yeah, I saw. I was watching from my window. How come your skin’s so dark but your hair’s so light?”
“Mom had dark skin, but dad’s white and has hair like mine, so I ended up sort of a bit of each of them. Everybody laughs at me because my hair looks stupid. I wish it was dark like mom’s was.”
“I kinda like it, it’s almost the same color as mine, and our eyes are the same color too. Y’know, if it wasn’t for your darker skin, we could almost be brother and sister.”
Bikky thought about that and grinned suddenly. “Yeah, I guess we could. That’s kinda cool. How come you’re just sittin’ here instead of playing with the other kids?”
“They won’t let me play with them because I’m a girl. They say I could get hurt and then I’d cry, but I wouldn’t. I’m just as good as any boy.”
“You could play with me. You know, if you wanted to. I mean, you don’t have to or anything, but…” He trailed off.
“Really? You wouldn’t mind?”
Bikky gnawed at his bottom lip and looked down at his scuffed sneakers. “I don’t have anybody to play with either.” He looked up suddenly, blue eyes hopeful. “We could play ball or something.”
“Sure! D’you have a ball?”
“Yep!” Bikky bounced to his feet, racing across the street, calling back over his shoulder, “I’ll go get it, don’t go away!”
“I’ll wait right here,” Carol shouted back.
After that, Bikky and Carol played together every day, and for Bikky, it wasn’t like playing with a girl because Carol could do pretty much everything the boys could do, maybe even better than they could. She ran faster than the boys, and Bikky had to learn to run fast too so he could keep up with her even though she was taller than him and had longer legs. She played ball and could throw and catch as good as any boy, and when Bikky got his first pair of rollerblades, she taught him to skate. Soon they were zooming around the neighbourhood, racing each other and having a great time. Sometimes they tripped on something, crashed, or got tangled together and wound up in a heap on the sidewalk, so they usually had bruises and bandaids all over their legs and arms, but Carol never cried. Cuts and scrapes didn’t matter; it was all part of being a kid.
Gradually, the other kids started letting Carol and Bikky play with them sometimes. They were still a bit hesitant, but Carol told them, “Just don’t think of me as a girl,” and so they didn’t. They took to calling her Cal and treating her as one of the boys, but she still liked playing with Bikky most of all. He was her best friend, after all.
“You’re really smart; way smarter than me,” Bikky sighed one day as they sat on the stoop together while Carol got on with her homework. They were drinking sodas straight from the can and catching their breath after a couple of hours practicing basketball moves in the hot sun. Bikky had decided long ago that he was going to be a pro basketball player when he grew up, and Carol believed him because at nine years old he was already getting really good and he practiced so hard, every day. She smiled at her friend’s words, thinking that any other kid would have qualified the statement: “You’re really smart, for a girl.” Bikky never did.
“It’s because I work at it, like you do with basketball. Anyway, I like school, and I want to get a good job when I’m older so I have to do well.” Carol would be starting junior high in a few months and would have a lot more homework to do. It meant they probably wouldn’t get to play together as much as they had been, which sucked, but Bikky knew Carol would still make time for him. She’d said as much. “Dad says I can be anything I want to be, it just takes dedication. Like you with basketball.”
Bikky nodded. “That makes sense. So what do you wanna be?”
“I dunno yet. Maybe a doctor of some kind, or a teacher.”
“Whatever you do, I bet you’ll be brilliant at it.”
“You really think so?” Carol asked shyly, touched by Bikky’s faith in her.
Bikky nodded, setting his soda can down and leaning back on his elbows. “I know so. You’re like the smartest person I know. I bet you could be president some day if you wanted to be.”
“I don’t know about that,” Carol laughed. “I mean I’m a girl.”
“So what? Girls are just as good as boys at practically everything, and way better at some stuff.”
Carol beamed at him. Bikky had always accepted her exactly the way she was, just like her dad did, never trying to make her conform to what most people thought a girl should be. She couldn’t imagine her life without him in it, and she didn’t want to try. “Thanks, Bikky. I’m really glad you’re my friend.”
Bikky grinned back at her. “You know what? So am I. We’re gonna be friends forever, aren’t we? No matter what.”
Impulsively, Carol kissed him on the cheek, making Bikky’s cheeks darken with embarrassment. “Of course we are. No matter where we go or what we do, that’s never going to change, and that’s a promise.”
Neither of them could know the trials they’d face in the years to come, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they had, because true friendship can weather any storm, and theirs would only grow stronger with time. Some things are just meant to be.