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Here the Volunteers

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Roger Meddows Taylor goes with the flow. Well, that's the way he would describe himself as a person, if he was ever asked. Though he stands up to help those he loves and gets fiercely protective over them. Loyalty is the most important aspect of a life, at least to him. But people have to earn his loyalty and his trust. You don't get it free and are then allowed to be a rat bastard afterwards. Family doesn't get a free pass on being terrible. Yet if they are terrible nonetheless, what can you do?

What Roger does is, he gets through that terror, he deals with it. One of the ways was by singing-- there was a children's choir that met and practised in order to sing during church services and for other sorts of things. Bless his mum, she asked the choir director to give her Roger a go, keep him out of the house. And though he'd scoffed and rolled his eyes, worry for her and his sister underneath the distaste (mostly feigned, because he actually enjoyed singing along with the radio. Has one in his room to listen to on nights when his father rages) he'd tried out for the choir.

The choral director spent time teaching proper breathing techniques. "Proper breath, opening the lungs entirely only happens when you breathe from the abdomen, boys, the diaphragm." Patting their own stomach area, just below the ribs, the director had the boys lie flat on the floor to open their lungs and breathe that way. Breathing exercises were utilised as well, including standing and sitting down during the course of the ditty "My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea; my Bonnie lies over the ocean, so bring back my Bonnie to me...." Over time it was discovered that Roger had one of the highest voices anyone in that chorus had ever heard.

Roger's voice remained high, too-- when most of the other boys got older, their voices cracked and changed, deepened exponentially. Roger's remained high and sweet, only growing a trifle gravelly when he sang, which added emotional grit to his words. He was given solos by the director and received admiration from the congregation. As well as some ire from the other boys. A few made disparaging comments on his abilities. "Only reason you'd sing that high is if you were a GIRL," One of the older boys sneered.

"Let's see, huh? Lookit that face." He tries to grab Roger's full cheek, but Rog ducks, blue eyes flashing, long blond hair whacking one of the boys who had clustered close behind him, as some children do when they sense weakness, or a fight.

Another boy pushes at the centre of Roger's back between his shoulder blades. "What're you gonna do, little girl? Cry?"

"Aww he's actually gonna cry!" One of the others sees Roger's hands trembling as his eyes glitter with what they think is tears. Big mistake.

"I'll show you who's gonna cry--" he rams his head up and back, smashing into the face of the boy behind him, jabbing an elbow into the kid's abdomen. He wheezes and his hand leaves Roger's back. The short blond leaps at the first boy who'd spoken, tackling him to the floor.

Others are shouting and converging on the pair. Roger is rolling over and over, the older boy larger and heavier though Roger gets in a good shot with a fist. Several adults come running, including the head of the choir, to pull everyone off, as a couple others had begun kicking at Roger's sides. He is pulled upright by the scruff of his neck, and feels a twinge of pride and satisfaction as the older boy dabs at a now-split lip.

That proud satisfaction diminishes as he is given a tongue-lashing. Choir boys don't fight, do not start fights nor finish them. That is not charitable. Roger doesn't bother trying to say the reason he fought, only glowers at the floor, his sides already beginning to smart. Nothing worse than pain he's felt before, but this stings more because Roger knows he does not deserve to be treated this way.

He decides to quit the choir after that. Gets a bit old for it, he's out of primary school and feels he ought to expand his horizons. That's the way Roger spins the tale to his mum, at least. Better not to worry her, and he can hide the bruises under his clothes. For a fortnight, they ache when he breathes too deep, but Roger is used to hurts like that. But he won't deal with them if he doesn't have to. Doesn't need the church choir; he's gotten what he needed from it, learned how to sing.

Besides, hymns and shite like that just--they aren't really HIM.