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Hector (5th Street #3)

By:Elizabeth Reyes

riends saw the post, it went viral.

Admittedly, though Hector dare not tell her, he probably would've been a little pissed himself had he been her boyfriend. But no way would he have acted the way Jairo did, and he certainly wouldn't have made a public stink out of it.

The warning bell rang, pulling Hector out of his Lisa thoughts, and he remembered Walter. Suddenly feeling a little worried, he hurried to the front doors of the school building they'd all gone into. There was no way those idiots realized they were messing with the science project that would be representing their school in the national contest.

With no sign of any of them as he entered the main building, he hoped that was a good thing. Hector got to his Advanced Stats class just in time but noticed immediately that Walter wasn't there yet. Not only was Walter never late but they had a final today. Feeling the smallest bit of guilt sink in that he'd lost all interest in helping Walter out when Lisa had showed up, he wondered now if something bad went down after he left.

By the time class was over and Walter never made it in, Hector was really feeling like crap about not having done anything to help him out. He ran into A.J. and Theo on his way to his next class. "Hey, what happened with Walt? He never made it to class."

A.J. brought his hands to his mouth, trying to stifle a laugh and pointed at Theo.

"Nah," Theo laughed, shaking his head. "That was all you!"

"What?" Hector asked, the concern weighing even heavier now.

A.J. lifted his arm to flex his muscle. "It's not my fault these guns can throw so hard." Then he turned to Theo. "And it's not my fault you can't catch for shit."

Theo busted out laughing heartedly now. "Man! That guy is probably still trying to put his toy together."

Feeling his insides go hollow, Hector looked at A.J. disgusted. "You broke the robot?" Without thinking, he grabbed his stupid friend by the shirt. "Why would you do that?"

A.J. laughed a little nervous now and brought his hand over Hector's. "Hey! I told him I was sorry. I didn't mean to." A.J's attempt to loosen Hector's grip on his shirt was a weak one, and it only made Hector grip it tighter. "What the hell, man?" A.J. asked his words a little shaky.

"You really are an asshole," Hector said, releasing him with a shove then turned to Theo who looked a little nervous himself now too. "You are too, Theo-assholes-both of you." He walked away, shaking his head, feeling like an asshole now himself for not having stepped in and taken the damn robot from them.

Hector was just glad he was almost done with high school. He only ever hung around these jerks at school. Outside of school, he hung out at 5th Street, the boxing gym he was now part owner of, with his brother and his older partners and much more mature friends.

He couldn't even believe now that he'd spent all this time with these guys and never stood up for Walter and all the other people they'd picked on and messed with over the years.

Just before getting to his next class, he saw Walter. Feeling the sting of guilt even deeper when he noticed Walter's red-rimmed eyes, he was almost afraid to ask, but he had to. "Hey, Walt, did you fix your robot?" Walter walked past him, the contempt in his eyes nearly burning a hole through Hector, but he didn't say a word.

"Listen, Walt, I'm sorry I didn't stop them. I got sidetracked, but if there is anything I can do to help you fix it-"

"Are you kidding me?" Walter snapped so loudly a few heads turned their way. "You or your sorry-ass friends wouldn't know the first thing about building something like that! Why don't you and those other jerks just go fuck yourselves!"

The moment his words were out, Hector saw something flick in Walter's eyes-fear. Fear that in a moment of anger he'd said something he would've never said before because under normal circumstances it might've gotten his ass kicked. Walter glanced around, a little pale-faced now at the other students standing around looking just as stunned.

Hector decided he'd let the guy off the hook this time. Walter had every right to be pissed. "I'm sorry, man. I hope you get it fixed."

Walter stared at him for a moment wide-eyed, apparently just as stunned as everyone around them that he hadn't gotten Hector's fist to his face. Without saying another word, Walter spun around and stalked away. Yep, Hector deserved that. He only hoped the outburst had made Walter feel a tiny bit better. Knowing Walter, and from what Hector had heard about the things that robot could do, it probably took him years to perfect it.

Hector walked away in the opposite direction, leaving a very confused audience standing around behind him whispering. He knew they were all wondering why he hadn't at the very least given Walter a fat lip. Today was different. He didn't think he could feel any worse after hearing Lisa's news, but now he did. He should've done something to stop his dumb-ass friends. But it wasn't like Hector always stood back and didn't say anything. Lisa's ex-boyfriend wasn't the only one who'd ever had to answer to him for threatening or trying to hurt someone weaker.

Besides, this was different, he tried to convince himself. The guys he hung out with might be jerks sometimes, but they never hurt anyone. Mostly they just messed around and poked fun at people. The only thing they ever bruised was maybe a few egos.

Hector tried to appease his guilty conscience by reasoning that, just like all the other times, Walter would get over it. And he insisted the guy was going to have to stand up for himself sooner or later or this kind of crap would keep happening to him.

The next day, Walter didn't show up to school, nor did he show up at all for the rest of the semester. Since he wasn't popular and didn't have many friends, no one really knew what happened to him. He just never came back. The only n