When he glued Ben's desk lid with PVA glue, Fry hadn't expected the effect to be that dramatic. It was just PVA, after all, which isn't exactly the stickiest glue he's ever done revenging with.*
Later, on reflection, he would realise the reason the desk stuck so well was because he sealed all the tiny gaps. He is however rather surprised the next morning when not only can Ben not open the desk, but Mr Mags can't prise it open either.
This was not exactly what he had in mind.
Fry bites his lip slightly as the rest of his class laughs at Ben's predicament. He'd thought the desk would stick for maybe a minute, and with a bit of luck, not make quite such a bang if he started dropping the lid again. But after five minutes, Mr Mags still hasn't got it open.
"Right, you'll just have to borrow stuff this morning until we find some tools." Mr Mags says, eventually.
"You will be able to open it, won't you?" Ben asks, looking slightly more upset than Fry had hoped for. "It's got... stuff of mine."
"Oh yeah, don't worry." Mr Mags says. "Just borrow these for now and we'll stick the pages in later."
He walks to the front of the class and turns around.
"Stop laughing." he says, in a low voice.
Somehow, Mr Mags' low voice is way more scary than any yelling. Everyone is quiet at once.
"I like a practical joke as much as the next person, but when it interferes with someone's schoolwork, or causes someone to be upset, that's a joke gone too far." he says. "I believe that that perhaps wasn't the intention of the prankster. I'd like them to own up; if they can't do it in front of the class, they can come and see me at the end of the morning."
Fry swallows hard, and stands up.
"I did it."
Before Mr Mags can respond, Joram stands up, across the table from him.
"Sir, I did it."
"No, I did it." Teddy says, standing up next to Joram.
"I was in it too." Noah says, getting to his feet.
Fry stares at them in confusion. Did they come in afterwards and apply their own glue? Then Kasha, who wasn't even there yesterday because she had a cold, stands up and says she did it. Even Pixie, who is usually too shy to speak in front of the class, makes a confession. And then Tommy stands up.
"I glued the desk, and so did my wife!"
Mr Mags, who is having difficulty not dissolving into laughter, waves at everyone to sit down.
"Okay, okay, I think that's enough confessions. You can all stay in at break and sharpen the pencils in the pencil box." He glances at Fry. "And if there's no more of this sort of thing, we'll say no more about it."
At break time he goes to find the school handyman to get the desk open, leaving Fry and his friends sharpening the pencils.
"I don't understand." Fry says, when Mr Mags has gone. "Why did you all take the blame with me?"
"Because we're your friends." Teddy says. "Ben's been a jerk to you, and we're on your side."
"I did also not like the big bang." Joram says.
They watch with interest when the handyman comes back to unstick the desk, which doesn't take terribly wrong. Then Tommy gets up and peeps in the newly freed desk.
"Tommy, you can't go in someone's desk!" Kasha says.
"I just wanted to see what Ben was in such a paddy about." Tommy says, pulling out a big leatherbound book. "Ooh, a secret diary!"
"Put it back, Tom." Teddy says. Tommy rolls his eyes and puts it back without opening it, but unfortunately Ben comes into the classroom at that moment and sees him.
"What are you doing?" Ben demands.
"I didn't read it." Tommy says, hurriedly. Ben goes to his desk, snatches the diary, and heads back out of the classroom.
Fry, still feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing, goes to the bathroom before the start of class. Unfortunately, just as he's washing his hands, Ben comes out of another cubicle, still holding his book. The two boys stop in their tracks.
"I know it was just you, really." Ben says. "So does Mr Mags, just you're his little pet and he didn't punish you properly."
Fry dries his hands with a tissue. Ben puts his hands under the drier, which makes a loud noise. Fry stops and puts his hands over his ears. Ben, watching him, sticks his other hand under the other drier, so they're both on. Fry tries to leave, but Ben blocks his path.
"Do not mess with me." Fry says, suddenly, ferociously. "Or you will regret it, Ben. What's your stupid problem anyway?"
"What's my problem? I hate you!" Ben says. "You act like you're four years old. You're pathetic, and you're a tattle tale. Everyone laughs at you, and you deserve it! Even your 'friends' only back you up because they think you're retarded."
Fry just restrains himself from headbutting Ben.
"Don't use that word. You know, I miss Bradley. He was an asshole too, but at least he challenged me intellectually."
"Are you calling me retarded?" Ben asks, getting up in his face. "You're the one that's retarded."
"No, just Bradley was smarter than you." Fry says. "Now get out of my way or prepare for a visit from the tooth fairy tonight."
Ben, who has learned about Fry's level of combat training the hard way, gets out of his way, still clutching his book. Fry goes to stand at the fish tank to calm himself down. Little snot! At least he got the last word.
He knows Mr Mags will help him if he asks. But part of him knows that Mr Mags was right - he is always going to have quarrels with other kids and he is at some point going to have to learn to deal with it himself.
He doesn't notice Ben return to the class behind him with slightly red eyes. And if he had noticed, he wouldn't have known what to make of it.
[*Fry's reputation for sticking things together with superglue was well known at the school, to the extent that a memo had at one point been sent to all staff forbidding anyone to leave the stuff anywhere kids could reach it.]