I’m No Cheerleader
Ed’s arm draped around Double-D’s shoulders as they walked down the hall. School had just ended and the trio were on their way home. She reached into her bag to find her planner only to stop and dig through her bag in a mild panic. She went through a mental list of everywhere she had used it.
“What’s wrong, Double-D?” Ed asked, concern on his face, almost a foot above her own.
“I see to have lost my day planner…” she mumbled, still digging through her bag. “I must have left it…”
She turned to go back but Eddy’s voice stopped her. “Where are you going? We got like seven movies to watch. You can get it tomorrow!”
She looked over her shoulder and gave him a withering stare. “No, I cannot, Eddy. It will more than likely not be there tomorrow should I wait to retrieve it. You may go ahead without me. It won’t take long.” She turned and walked back to her drafting class, across from the weight room.
The door was unlocked so she went to her table and found her query on the floor where it must have fallen from her bag. She flipped to the proper page and wrote down the assignment due the following Monday.
“Well, well, well. The dork does have curves,” a strange male voice said behind her.
Confused, Edd turned. Two football players were standing in the doorway. She raised a brow. “Can I help you?” she asked, putting on a brave face. They weighed more than her by a hundred pounds apiece and always made her nervous. She clutched her notebook in her hand and separated her feet, discreetly taking a defensive stance. Her mother had insisted on some form of defence training. She had complained at the time. But as they strolled into the room, door clicking closed behind them, she promised to apologise to her mother.
The taller of the two leered at her. “You sure can, dork.” The other grinned and her spine crawled with unease. “You can get down on your knees.” He had come closer to her.
She took a step back. “E-excuse me?”
His smirk was positively full of malice. “I said you can get on your knees, bitch.”
That pissed her off. First rule of defence: strike first and strike hard. She reared back her leg and kicked him in the crotch as hard as she could.
He howled and crumpled in pain. She ran through the tables to try and reach the door, but the other male was fast and caught her wrist, causing her to jerk to a halt. Her wrist seared with pain but she pushed past it and tried to kick the second male. He spun her and pinned her arms behind her. Rough hands bruised the soft flesh of her wrists.
“I got her,” the one holding her said.
The other grunted and got up off the floor. “Bitch’s got some fight. I like that.” His grin dripped with poison as he moved toward them.
Edd resorted to Plan B; she drew in as much air as she could and screamed with everything she had. A sharp blow knocked her head back on her neck. She was dazed for a moment, but she looked back to the man in front of her. She tasted blood. She gathered all of it with her tongue and spat in into her abuser’s face. It caught him on the cheek.
He wiped it away and glared. “You’ll pay for that you little bitch.” He grabbed the tie she wore over her button-up and tore it from her throat. Meaty, rough hands grabbed the halves of her shirt apart. She started to scream again, but the man behind her clapped a hand over her mouth. She struggled hard, breasts jiggling slightly in their lace enclosure. Her hat fell to the floor as she thrashed. The only thing she could think was, “I’m going to be raped. They intend to go through with this.”
Angry hands groped her over her bra, tweaking her nipples too hard. Tears stung her eyes.
“What the fuck is going on here?” a voice boomed behind her abuser. Her eyes widened. She knew that voice!
The taller of the two turned a cocky smile on his smug face. “Oh, hey, Cap. Just having some fun with the dork here.”
She couldn’t see her potential saviour so she thrashed so hard she almost pulled her shoulders out of socket. She made muffled screaming noises in protest to tell him it wasn’t consensual.
The Captain of the football team had always been fast and brutal in his actions, moving like a predator. He took one long stride and struck the other man. He collapsed instantly, unconscious from the weight of the blow. The guy behind Edd let her go and tried to flee. She fell to the ground and whimpered as her arms regained blood-flow.
The second man didn’t make it very far. The Captain grabbed him and threw him to the ground. Straddling him, he punched him repeatedly until the other quit fighting back.
He stood and turned to Edd. The red-head towered over her where she sat on her knees clutching her shirt together. Her hair tumbled over her shoulders; blood dripped from her mouth and a purple bruise was forming on her cheek.
Kevin dropped to his knees and pulled off his letterman jacket. He gently wrapped it around Edd. She flinched as it settled on her tender shoulders but pulled it about her. He buttoned it to hide her from view and met her eyes, so wide in fear and adrenaline. He could see the white all the way around her irises. He pulled the bottom of his shirt out of his pants and dabbed at her mouth. He spoke softly when he said, “Double-D, are you alright? Did they… touch you?” He choked back rage to take care of her.
She seemed to come out of her trance and closed her eyes at the sound of his voice. “What?” she croaked from a throat raw from screaming.
His face flushed at asking again. Relief flooded into him when she shook her head. Her eyes were still closed. Maybe she was shutting the memory out. “Double-D?” She opened her eyes. “Will you let me hold you?” The Captain needed to knew it was a lot to ask after what she had just been through but he needed to know she was really okay.
She shrugged, still in her daze and winced at the sudden pain. He sat against the wall and spread his legs, pulling her in between them and loosely held her. “I’m going to call the police,” he said quietly and pulled his phone out of the pocket of his jacket.
A small hand stopped him. He looked at her face. She shook her head. “No, don’t. I don’t want anyone to know what… what happened.”
His brow furrowed in confusion. “What are you talking about? Of course I’m going to call the police. You were just assaulted.” Rage seeped into him as she just continued to shake her head. He turned her to face him. “Edd, listen to me. No one’s going to think less of you. From what I can tell, you fought like a hellcat. There is no shame on you.” He motioned to the unconscious figures. “You, above all else, deserve justice.”
Her big eyes looked at him. Tears gathered in them. “I want my hat,” she said in a very small voice.
He looked around for it and saw it six feet away. He didn’t want to move her to get it so he took his own off and set it on top of her gorgeous mane of raven hair. “Here, you hold onto mine for me,” he said gently. “Edd, I’m going to call them. I want to know you’re safe, okay?” He took a breath. “Let me do it for me if not for you.”
Her brilliant mind showed him her confusion through cerulean eyes. “Why do you want me safe?
He swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. This was not the time for this conversation. But he wasn’t going to lie to her. He raised his hand to cup her cheek gently. She didn’t flinch. He rubbed his thumb over her bruise lightly and said, “Because I care about you. A lot.”
She seemed to not comprehend. It was unsettling to see his genius childhood nemesis look confused. Slowly, so she could back away if she wanted to, he pressed his lips to her forehead. He stayed that way and said, “I care a very great deal about your well-being, Edd. Let me call them so I can rest easy.”
“Okay,” she said softly.
They sat together as the cops came and questioned them. Kevin held Double-D through the entire ordeal. The cop wanted her to go to the hospital, but she said they hadn’t really hurt her.
Not that way.
Kevin gathered her things and drove her home. He waited for her to change clothes in her living room, apprehensive at each passing moment. He had nowhere to put his anxious rage and he started walking around the room, pacing really.
She came back down on soft, silent feet in sweats and a hoodie that swallowed her. She wouldn’t look at him. She held out his neatly folded jacket and continued to stare at the floor. Thank you. You saved me from a horrific fate today. I am indebted to you.”
He looked at the jacket. The capital P that usually rested over his heart was placed neatly on top of the bundle. “You can keep that, Double-D.”
She peeked up through her bangs. “Why would I keep your football jacket, Kevin? You earned it. I have done nothing to earn a Letter.”
He stepped forward and pressed it against her chest. “Edd… This is not how or when I wanted to do this.” He took a quick breath. “Edd, I don’t want you to wear it because you earned it. I want you to wear it so people know I belong to you.” Heat rushed to his face and ears, but he didn’t look away.
She looked befuddled. “…Belong to me? Kevin, you can’t belong to another person.” Her blue eyes were more confused than he had ever seen them.
“I can if they’ve already got my heart,” he said quietly.
She stared at him blankly for so long, he thought about taking her to the hospital anyway to get her head checked. Then, her eyes flared and pink rushed to stain her cheeks. “Oh,” she breathed.
He smiled at her gently. “Yeah… Oh…” He rubbed his thumbs over the hands he was still pressing against her chest holding his jacket. “My heart and my jacket are yours if you want them. I know the timing isn’t all that great—” He touched the black mark on her face. “But when I see you hurt, all I can think about is protecting you. I want you to wear something that claims that you have someone to look after you.” He bit his lip. This was harder than he thought. “Edd, I – I want to know I belong to you.”
She looked to the ground again. “You don’t have to do this, Kevin.”
His brows came together. “Do what?”
She sounded exhausted and miserable. “You don’t have to pretend to be my boyfriend so people will leave me alone. I will be alright. I am perfectly capable of being on my own. I’ve been doing it since we were children.” She looked up and gave him the most heartbreakingly fake smile he had ever seen.
“I don’t want you to be alone. I want you to be with me,” he said. “Edd, I’m not doing this because I feel sorry for you. You can call Nazz and ask her; I was going to ask you to Spring Formal.”
She shook her head. “Kevin, you deserve someone who’s beautiful. Someone who matches you. You’re the football Captain—”
“I’m looking at her, Edd. Right now. Will you stop being so stubborn and coming up with excuses?” He tipped her chin up to get her to look at him. “Edd, you are beautiful. You are all kinds of beautiful. And you do match me. You are who I think about all the time. You are everything I’m not. You’re smart and funny and lovable.” He bit the inside of his cheek and wished he hadn’t said that last one just yet. “I’m conceited and cranky and people are afraid of me.” She looked up. Her eyes were wide and brimming with tears. His heart dropped. “Don’t cry, Edd! I didn’t mean to make you cry.” He was panicking when she laughed softly. He stopped stammering apologies at her. “What’s funny?” he asked.
Her gap-toothed smile made a small appearance and made his heart jump. “You are, Kevin. You are funny. No one has ever told me those things. Never. But you have never been a liar. I believe you think those things to be true.” She pushed her hair behind her ear. “I’m none of those things. I’m afraid all the time. I’m cynical. I have a smart-mouth. I am of average appearance –”
The red-head bent and pressed his mouth to her gently, careful of her busted lip. “I know all of that. I grew up with you. I literally live across the street. I likethose things, Edd. They’re what make you, you.”
The genius girl was at a loss for words, her face red.
He took the jacket from her and shook it out. He slid first one arm, then the other into the sleeves. He smiled. “I want you to wear this because, when I know you’re wearing it, there’s always part of me with you.”
She touched the number on the shoulder. The twelve he had worn for years that had always brought him luck. Her eyes welled with tears and she stepped into his waiting arms, finally giving in to the fear and anger. She clung to him as she sobbed out her emotions. She lost her strength and her knees gave way. He caught her and carried her to the couch, bundling her into his lap where he tucked her under his chin.
She quieted eventually, running out of tears. Her voice was soft if a bit rough, “I feel like I’m wrapped in Superman’s cape.”
He smiled and felt his chest swell. “You might as well be, because no one’s going to get through me to get to you. I promise.”