I could tell by his face that he was angry. Vice principal Mr Chaplain slammed his fist onto the desk and looked at us.
"Why did you beat up Charles in the cafeteria?" he shouted at me.
"I've told you already. He started the fight. He insulted Tessa and I tried to defend her," I said through gritted teeth.
"Mr Green didn't report anything about Tessa being involved in the argument," he stared at me.
My palms became sweaty and I wiped them with the side of my trousers.
"Listen here carefully, Thomas. If I catch you fighting again, I'll give you detention for a week. Now get out!" he pointed towards the door and we went out.
Charles grinned at me when we stood in the hallway. It was clear of students as it was after break. I glared at Charles and slammed him against the wall. "If you ever dare to insult Tessa again, I'll splatter your guts on the floor," I hissed at him.
"Go on defending your weird and so-called 'girlfriend', Thomas. She doesn't belong here," he spat back. I glared at him and walked towards my classroom. I sidled over to my desk with glances from everyone and took out my book. The teacher gave a glare and continued to teach. "How was it?" Tessa asked from behind. "Nothing," I said and started copying down notes. "You don't have to defend me. I don't want you getting into more trouble," Tessa said. I ignored her and the class continued without any problems.
During lunch, I sat with Tessa and Jack at our usual lunch table. As Tessa set her food down on the table, Charles bumped into her and her drink spilt onto the table.
"Oops! Sorry," he grinned as he turned to walk away. I grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. "You did that on purpose," I hissed. He swept my hand off his shoulder. "Apologise to her," I breathed. He snorted and spat on the ground. I grabbed him by the collar and slammed him down onto the table. "I said, apologise to her!" I yelled as he struggled beneath me. Other students had started to stare at us. Charles quickly broke loose and stood up, glaring at me with his hands balled into fists.
"Leave him alone," Tessa said as she held my arm.
Charles spat, "You don't belong here. People without parents shouldn't come to school. I heard you live with your uncle and aunt who treat you badly. What did they do? Make you work like Cinderella?" Then he called her a word I could not utter. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I grabbed him by the collar and slammed him onto the table again, splattering food all over the place. People were gathering around and chanting, "Fight! Fight!" I punched him in the nose and he yelled in pain as blood oozed out.
"Apologise to her!" I yelled at him. He struggled to get free and I felt a rough hand pulling me back.
"It's not worth it," Jack said as he pulled me away.
"Leave him," Tessa said gently. I shook free just as Mr Chaplain came.
"What's going on here?" he roared and everyone backed away.
"He punched me in the nose!" Charles held his broken nose.
"Nurse, now!" he said and Charles left, shooting a grin as he went.
"It's my fault, sir. He insulted me," said Tessa, standing in front of me. "He insulted her family too, sir!" I said but was silenced.
"Tell Charles to see me in my office. And you too, young man," he said as he left.
In Mr Chaplain's office, Charles and I were reprimanded and given a week's detention. I should not have taken the law into my own hands. I should have reported the incidents to the school authorities, since problems could not be solved through violence. As for Charles, he too had learnt his lesson - never to mock and make fun of the others, no matter how their family backgrounds were. He had learnt to be more respectful towards his fellow schoolmates. Before leaving the headmaster's office, we shook hands with each other as a sign of the beginning of a new friendship.