“But Hero, trouble’s found you.” Blake sneered, standing behind the kid now.
The kid took a half step back, turning as he did so he could keep his two assailants in front of him, and his back to Jade. A few people, those who happened to glance in the direction of the staircase, stopped to watch the unfolding drama.
Jade felt her stress rising. If the kid hadn’t happened along, she could’ve quickly dealt with the situation and moved on. Now she had an audience, which meant witnesses if she did anything the humans would see as unusual. However, a small part of her couldn’t help but appreciate what this guy was trying to do. It was something she witnessed less often anymore. She debated stepping in and helping out, but part of her was curious to see what this guy would do next. **
“Look, no one wants any trouble. Do you really want to end up in detention? Why don’t you just give the girl back her phone and we can all walk away?”
“Oh, we’ll walk away alright…” Johnny began.
“…but you won’t.” Blake finished with a hard shove.
The kid pinwheeled his arms as he lost his balance, and landed on the stairs at Jade’s feet. She noticed his quick look up into her eyes as his cheeks flushed, then he regained his feet and stepped towards Johnny and Blake.
“Okay, you pushed me down. Are you happy now? Can she please have her phone back?”
“Can she please have her phone back?” Johnny mimicked in a high falsetto. He grinned, and Jade knew her phone wouldn’t be given back to her so easily.
“Look,” she interrupted, desperately not wanting more attention than she already had, “Mr. Irwin will be here soon, and I don’t want to get in trouble. Just give me back my phone and go away.”
“No. You wouldn’t talk to us, so I think I’m going to keep it for a while.”
Jade wanted to kick Johnny in the teeth. He was bound and determined to get his due. She was about to agree to talk to him for a minute if he’d just back off, but the new guy spoke up first.
“So, you want her to talk to you, but you won’t listen to her when she says no? What kind of message do you think you’re sending with that? You know, you’re even dumber than you look.”
All color left Johnny’s face, except his cheeks and neck, which flushed crimson. He threw Jade’s phone against the concrete wall, shattering into pieces. He then took a step forward and hit the hero in the jaw with a right cross, sending him sprawling. Jade gasped, but before anyone could do anything, Blake stepped forward and kicked him in the gut.
From where she stood watching the scene unfold, she could hear the impact of the work boot, the kid’s grunt, and the air whoosh out of his lungs. There was no movement for a second, then he started to get up.
“You wanted her phone, you’ve got it now, hero. Good luck putting it back together.” Johnny said as he started forward again, ready to do more damage.
In a flash of movement, a foot shot up from the ground, catching him between the legs. Johnny’s legs buckled, and he dropped to his knees in time to receive another kick across his face. Blake froze as the punk moved, struggling to his feet.
The kid wiped the blood dripping from his mouth on his sleeve, and turned to look at Jade. She looked back at him with an appraising eye, but movement got her attention. Whirling around, the kid turned to face Blake, but the fight was over. Blake’s attention was focused on his friend.
“Johnny, get up. Come on, man, get up. The chick’s right, Mr. Irwin’ll be here any minute.”
At these words the gathered crowd quickly dispersed. The school’s vice principal had a reputation for being a very unforgiving disciplinarian when it came to fights. Blood had been shed, which usually meant the cops got called. No one wanted to be around for that.
The guy who’d taken a beating helping her, looked at Jade for a long minute, before turning away. His mouth was swelling and he kept wiping at the blood. The scrapes on his face looked painful, and she knew his gut hurt from the way he cradled it. Even though it went against all the rules, she felt compelled to at least say something to her would be savior.
“Hey,” she said.
She watched as he took a step, then stopped, seeming to deflate right there in front of her. He turned a little, just enough to be able to look her in the eyes.
“Thank you.” She ventured, feeling awkward. She mentally kicked herself as she scrambled to come up with something more to say, “You didn’t have to do that.”
The guy stared at her for a moment, his eyes betraying nothing. She could tell from how he stood, however, he was in more pain than he let on. Reaching out to try and get a read on him, she immediately closed herself off again. His agony, not all of it physical, was overwhelming.
The boy’s expression became almost hostile, then disappeared, only to be replaced by intense sadness. His lower lip quivered a moment before he regained control and replied, “Yes, I did.”
The response wasn’t what Jade expected, and only served to pique her curiosity. There was something about him, and after what he’d done to help her, she couldn’t let him just walk away. “Will you let me help you?”
He sighed, then turned to retreat back down the stairs. He moved slowly, with one arm still cradling his stomach. “No, thanks. I’ll be okay.”
Feeling a little annoyed at being rebuffed, Jade asked, “Will you at least tell me your name?”
He paused on the stairs, about two thirds of the way down. She could see his grimace of pain as it shot across his face when he stooped to pick up his book bag.
Upon standing again, he looked back at her and said, “Arthur. Arthur Dracon,” then he turned and walked away.
© 2016, Tim Hillebrant. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.