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It was one of those conversations I really wanted them to have on the show.And then when it became clear they weren't going to, I decided to write it myself.I was in two minds about whether to post it but eventually I decided that I liked it so maybe someone else would as well.(And it didn't really fit in with the way the storyline went but I've managed to fudge it.)Hope you like it.

Story Title: Perspective

Type of story: One-shot

Main Characters: Jai, Melody

BTTB rating: T

Genre: General(Drama)

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: No violence, bad language or sexual content.But the conversation does touch on a few areas that are a bit on the adult side.

Summary: How exactly do they feel about the person that had such a different affect on them both?

He had the house to himself.He’d made sure of that.Alf and Miles were both still at work.As for Melody… she’d become a bit less unpredictable since Miles had brought her back from Melbourne a couple of days previous but he still wasn’t sure where she was half the time.He’d called out when he got home and received no answer, so he assumed that she was helping Alf out at the bait shop again.

Jai made his way up to his room, looking around furtively as he always did, before taking the box out from under his bed.He liked to come here, to sit and remember in secret.He knew Miles wouldn’t say anything if he knew he’d kept the cuttings but he wouldn’t understand, none of them would, none of them ever had done.

It took him a few seconds to hear the footsteps on the stairs.He began hastily gathering everything up, stuffing it back in the box, trying to get it out of sight, hoping desperately that whoever it was wouldn’t come in.But he wasn’t fast enough.Melody pushed the door open and stepped into the room.

“Jai, I was wondering if…”She stopped, her eyes alighting on the newspaper clipping, the obituary and the photograph alongside it.“Axel,”she gasped.He hated the way she said it, even though he understood. The way a child might talk about the boogeyman.She stared at him, shock etched on her face.“What are you doing with that?”

Jai had often thought about how he’d answer that question if anyone found out.The excuses, the apologies, the justifications.But he found in that moment that he didn’t feel like giving any of them.“He was my friend,”he told her.He pushed the box out of sight under his bed before hurrying downstairs.

He’d hoped she wouldn’t follow him but he knew the hope was pointless.No sooner had he reached the kitchen than she was down the stairs after him, gazing at him with a mixture of anger and confusion.“I know you were with him when he had the accident but…how can you have been friends with him?He was a monster!”

“No he wasn’t,”Jai replied angrily.

“Don’t you care about what he did to me?”

It was a question Jai had always had a hard time answering.Since Melody had come to live with them and they’d become friends, he’d found it hard to reconcile that with his other friend, with Axel, and what had happened between them.“I didn’t know you then.”

“He held me down on that bed and he touched me.Where he had no right touching me.If I hadn’t got away, he’d have done more.That’s who your friend was.”

“And he paid for it,”Jai retorted.He knew she had a right to be angry but he needed to explain, to make her understand that she’d got it wrong.“He kept paying for it.Someone put him in hospital.Then he went to court, he was punished.But that wasn’t enough for some people.You weren’t at school then, you don’t know what it was like for him.Even the nice people ignored him.And the others…Every bully in that school suddenly had an easy target.Who’s going to care if they pick on someone who’s just admitted to molesting a fifteen-year-old?”

Melody wasn’t backing down.“You don’t know what it was like for me.Mum was ten times worse after what happened.I’d broken her rules, I’d been corrupted.She didn’t let me go anywhere, do anything for myself.That school she sent me to, everyone looked at me like I was dirty, like I’d done something wrong and I’d been punished.Even now, I am never going to be able to forget what he did to me.”

“He’s dead, Melody.I think you came off better.”The comment seemed to stop her but he went on anyway.“I know he did the wrong thing, he did too.Why do you think he never told the police who attacked him?Why do you think he owned up to what he’d done?I know what he did to you was bad but he needed a friend and so did I.And he was my friend.I liked him.We had fun together.And now he’s dead.”He hadn’t wanted to do this, not in front of anyone, especially not in front of her.But the tears were flowing and he couldn’t stop them.He sank to the floor, leaning back against the table.“He’s dead and…and it’s my fault.”

Melody looked down at him, seeming genuinely worried about the state he was in.“I thought it was Mr. Jefferies that caused the accident.”

Jai shook his head.She didn’t understand.“I shouldn’t have let it happen.I knew we shouldn’t have taken the scooter, I knew I should have stopped him.But I went along with it because I thought it would be fun.If I’d done the right thing, if I’d have talked him out of it, Mr.Jefferies could have driven wherever he liked.”

Melody seemed calmer down, more sympathetic.She sat down next to him.“Do you know why I ended up in that clinic?”

Jai looked away from her.He didn’t want another speech about how everything was Axel’s fault.“Because of what he did to you.”

“Because I’m evil.”He looked at her in surprise.Despite all the trouble she’d caused lately, “evil” was the last word he’d ever use to describe her.She smiled sadly.“That’s what my mum told me.I’m evil.I guess I just couldn’t handle it.I was a mess, my life was ruined and Axel was just wandering around as if nothing had happened.So I prayed…I prayed for him to die.I felt bad straightaway, I knew it was wrong, so I told Mum.And she told me that I was evil, that only evil people prayed for people to die.And then it happened. He died.And I couldn’t handle it.Another human being was dead because of me.But my counsellor told me that sometimes bad things happen and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.It wasn’t my fault.And it wasn’t yours either.”

He looked at her gratefully.It was a relief to let it all out at last.“The worst thing is I can’t even talk to anyone about it.Annie never liked him.Miles never got to know him.I’m sitting up in my room staring at old photos because it’s the only way I can remember that he existed.”

“Were there many people at the funeral?”

Jai looked away, shamefaced.“I didn’t go.”

He could feel Melody’s surprised look on him, after everything he’d just said.“Why not?”

“Because…then I’d have had to have admitted that it had affected me, that I was upset.I didn’t want to feel like that, not again, not after what happened to my mum and my dad and my brother.So I pretended it didn’t matter.”He sighed.“I let him down.”

“You could go now,”she suggested,“Do you know where he’s buried?”

Jai shrugged, remembering what Miles had told him.“The Anglican church in Yabbee Creek.”

“Well, there’s a bus to Yabbee Creek, isn’t there?”

He looked at her, seeming nervous.“Would you come with me?”

Melody had to work hard to keep the horror from showing on her face.Encouraging him to pay his respects to his friend was one thing.Visiting the grave of the boy that tried to rape her?But seeing how much it meant to him, she couldn’t turn him down.“Yeah, of course.”

“Do you know where it is?”Melody asked as they entered the churchyard.

“I’ve never been here before,”Jai reminded her.

Melody scanned the gravestones.Some of them were clearly centuries old, others more recent.“Those ones look new,”she suggested at last.

Jai looked in the direction she was pointing and his eyes alighted on a woman, the only other person present.“That’s Axel’s mum,”he realised with a start.

Looking at him, Melody sensed he wanted to avoid a meeting as much as she did.“Maybe we should come back another time.”

But Mrs.Hay had already seen them and was making her way towards them.“Jai,”she said in greeting, grasping his hands,“It’s been so long since we’ve seen you.”

“I just wanted to see Axel,”Jai told her, obviously uncomfortable with the attention.

“Yes, yes, of course.”Her eyes alighted on Melody.“Is this Annie?”For a moment Melody considered going along with the pretense, it seemed better than letting her know the truth.Then Mrs.Hay let out a gasp. “It’s you, isn’t it?Danielle pointed you out to me once.”To Melody’s astonishment, she took a gentle hold on her arms, almost as though she was going to hug her.“Oh my dear, I’m so sorry.When the police told us that a girl had accused our son of something so bad…We thought such terrible things of you.We just couldn’t believe it, not our boy.And then he came home and told us that he’d been to the police and that it was all true…He had tears in his eyes, for the first time since he was a little boy.However can you forgive us?”

Melody had never really given much thought to Axel’s family.If she had, she’d just expected them to be horrible people, to have brought him up like that.But this woman…she seemed so normal.She liked her. “I’m sorry too, Mrs.Hay.About Axel.”To her surprise, she realised she meant it.This woman had loved her son.She hadn’t deserved to lose him.

Mrs.Hay nodded, grateful, releasing her.“Stay as long as you want,”she told them.

Melody stayed at a distance as Jai approached the grave.He crouched down by it and stayed there, silent, for a long time.“I’m sorry, Axel,”he said at last,“I’m sorry I haven’t been here before.I’m sorry if I let you down.And I’m sorry if I’ve ever pretended that you weren’t my friend.Because you were my friend.And I miss you.And I’m never going to pretend again.”

He placed a hand on the gravestone for a moment then got to his feet and went over to where Melody was waiting.

She stood looking at the stone, reading the inscription:In loving memory of Axel Hay.Born 14th September 1990.Died 11th July 2008.Beloved Son and Brother.Forever missed.A simple epitaph.No monsters here.She felt she should say something but what?That she forgave him?Except that she didn’t.She knew she should but when she thought about all the fear and hatred, both for him and for herself, that she’d felt because of him…She wasn’t ready to forgive.Not yet.She wished she’d met the Axel that Jai had known, his friend. She had a feeling it would have helped both of them.

“You didn’t deserve to die,”she said at last.It wasn’t much.But for the moment it was all she could manage.

She turned to face Jai and for a second they just stood there, looking at each other, each of them perhaps understanding the other just a little better.Then they left the churchyard arm in arm.


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