The sounds of slamming locker doors and hundreds of voices filling the halls had become such a background noise that Daniel was able to completely drown it out. He threw his bag over his shoulder and wove his way through the sea of other students, hoping to slip away unnoticed.
His efforts were done in vain; before he could protest, two large hands closed around his neck and yanked him back. Panic filled him, but he made sure not to fight back. He knew better.
"Where are you going?" a mocking voice hissed in his ear.
"Home," Danny replied, his vision blurring as the hands around his neck tightened their grip. "Let me go! I can't breathe!"
Despite, or perhaps in spite of, his pleas for freedom, the grip on Danny's neck tightened yet again. It was at this point that he began to writhe, clawing at his assailant's hands in a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure on his throat. Blood roared in his ears, and his chest felt as though it was going to burst. A dizzying wave of blackness threatened to wash over him and his squirming grew weaker.
But just before he blacked out, the pressure lifted, and he was dropped to the floor. Drawing in deep, sobbing breaths, he stayed on the ground in hopes that he would be left alone.
However, another hand, this one a bit gentler, grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet.
Danny squinted, his vision still blurry. "Dylan?" he rasped, making out a tall, powerful figure masked by a bulky black-and-yellow varsity jacket.
A grunt of "yeah?" confirmed Danny's inquiry. Dylan dropped Danny's arm and slammed him against the lockers, pinning the smaller boy there with a tight vice grip.
Danny winced and braced himself for further assault. But instead of his lip being busted or his nose broken, he felt Dylan tilt his head upwards and the other's lips meeting his. He stiffened, surprised at the contact but not at all opposed to it, then relaxed and returned the gesture.
After a few seconds, Dylan drew away. "You okay?" he asked.
Danny nodded, averting his now cleared gaze to the floor. "I'm fine," he mumbled. Heat flushed in his face and his heart hammered in his chest, although this time not out of fear.
"Good." Dylan shrugged his jacket off and draped it over Danny's shoulders. "If anyone tries shit with you, tell them I gave you this and I'll lump their heads in if they hurt you."
"I... Thank you," Danny blurted out. He turned to walk away, but was gently pulled backwards. He wheeled around and opened his mouth to speak but was shushed before he could.
"Take this, too," Dylan ordered, slapping something in Danny's hand and closing the smaller's fingers around it. He gave Danny another quick kiss and jogged out the building.
For a few moments, Danny stood still, his cheeks red and a bewildered look on his face. Then he slowly uncurled his fingers to see what Dylan had given him.
A small piece of paper lay in his hand, written on it a ten-digit number and the words "call me".