Sophy pushed Kester towards the two men, who were now laying into their poor victim on the floor, attempting to defend himself by curling up into a ball as they kicked him in the ribs rather ruthlessly.
“Go on!” She urged, looking horrified that he was just stood there doing nothing.
“Me?!” Kester’s eyes widened.
“Yes!” she snapped impatiently. “You’re supposed to be some great detective, aren’t you? At least, that’s the chat up line you were trying to spin me thirty seconds ago. Surely you can fight?”
“Of course I can fight,” he rolled his eyes. He couldn’t. In truth, Kester had never had a fight in his life. He wouldn’t even know where to begin. That was why he needed a sidekick, for God’s sake. To take care of the heavy work whilst he did the thinking. He was the brains of the outfit, after all. “Can’t you do it?” He glanced at her, a little terrified.
“No!” She gave him another shove. “You’re the detective. You stop the fight, and maybe, just maybe, I might consider being your “sidekick”. Although we’re changing the name sidekick right away. Partner is more like it.”
“Partner in crime?”
“Partner in solving crime. Now go!”
“Right. Right.” He cracked his knuckles, lumbering up like a boxer ready to step into the ring. He could do this. He could do this. How hard could it be.
Approaching the two men, he tapped one of them on the back politely.
The guy had a quick look over his shoulder, then completely ignored him.
“Excuse me!” He said a little louder.
Finally, he stopped what he was doing and turned round. “What?” He snarled. He was quite a scary looking bloke, when it came down to it. Looked a bit too old to be a student. Tall. Muscles. A very short hair cut. Tattoo showing on the lower part of his neck.
“I think…I think you should stop,” said Kester hesitantly.
The man smirked, then gave a little chuckle. “Oh, you do, do you?”
“Yes. Yes, I do,” he nodded, more confident that the conversation was going well, especially since it had caused his mate to stop kicking the guy on the floor. Now they were both looking at him and he had their full attention, although they were sneering rather too much for his liking.
“You hear that, Pete? He thinks we should stop.”
“Oh yeah, yeah I heard,” Pete replied with a snigger. “And I suppose you’re gonna make us, are you? Tough guy.”
Kester looked back over his shoulder at Sophy. She nodded, egging him on. He made a fist with his right hand, keeping his arm by his side.
“Yes,” he answered calmly. “My name is Kester Norwood and I am a great detective and if you don’t stop kicking that man I shall punch you in the face.”
The two men started to laugh.
“Why are you even kicking him anyway, may I ask?”
“Why?” said Pete. “Because he’s a queer, that’s why. And he was hitting on me. Or trying to.”
Kester swallowed, looking down at the floor and thinking about it for a second, starting to feel quite angry. It always annoyed him when people were prejudiced against others for no good reason.
Finally, he answered, “Well that’s just…that’s just…stupid.” And before he could change his mind, he swung his fist out and chinned Pete’s mate with a mean right hook he didn’t even know he had in him. He fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes. Kester staggered backwards, amazed by his own ability. It was the first time he’d ever punched anyone and it had actually gone alright.
Apparently, the first move was all that was needed for other people in the bar to wade in and get involved. As Pete’s mate was struggling up to his feet, he and Pete were forcibly removed from the pub by the barman and several other students.
Kester offered out his hand to the young man on the floor and helped him up.
“Thanks,” he grinned, wiping some blood from his bottom lip. “I wasn’t trying to chat him up, I don’t know where he got that from at all.” He gave a little laugh. “My name’s Darius, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Darius,” Kester smiled back, shaking his hand properly.
“Did I hear you say you were a detective?”
“Yes, yes I am,” he said proudly.
“Well actually, I might have a case for you. It’s only a little one. Probably won’t interest you.”
“Oh yes?” Kester replied with a casual raise of his left eyebrow, trying not to be too overly keen.
“Yeah. Um…maybe we could talk about it somewhere more private? We could go back to my halls?”