On the outside, Emilia always seemed like a violent girl. That's what her teachers would say, that's what her aunts and uncles and even her therapist from 10th grade would always say. But she never really felt violent. It wasn't like she got some rush from hurting people for no reason, and she wasn't always thinking of fighting, either. It felt more like her fight or flight response was always active, and always tuned to the 'fight' option. Even as far back as third grade, she remembered feeling that fighting urge.

She was sure the boy that had called her "Emilia Bedelia" remembered that, too, seeing as she'd sent him home with one hit the moment he tried to get anyone else involved in the teasing. Things only seemed to progress from there, her instinct to hit first and ask questions later (but likely never) guiding her along the path to avidly avoiding boys with misguided ideas of how to express their feelings to her and girls who were just itching to start drama. Though it was just as violent, Emilia's parents were actually somewhat relieved when she decided to take up boxing at the gym near home. At least then she would have some outlet for her 'violence' that wasn't an unexpectant person's face.

It dulled the instinct, sure, but there were still times that Emilia had to convince herself that fighting wasn't a necessary option. Dancing at least took her mind off of it. At least while she was dazzling the crowd with her performance she didn't have to restrain herself from throwing punches when someone so much as approached her too quickly.

But after her time in the spotlight was done and she had to move aside for the next passionate performer she was back on her toes. It felt like she was a caged animal most of the time, she had the instincts of one. It was normal for people to be pressed too-close together on dance floors (even makeshift dance floors like the cafeteria). It was normal for shoulders to brush, feet to stumble, accidental contact was absolutely unavoidable. And Emilia only felt more claustrophobic as time passed.

"Anxiety,"

She looked over at Bodie. This was the umpteenth time they'd been sitting on the beach, watching the sun set over the waves as the party died down and people said their goodbyes. It was a wonder she hadn't told her partner in crime ages ago that she'd been dealing with a propensity to fight for so long. He had to have some idea, though, considering that when they met their first official interaction ended with the blond nursing a nearly broken nose.

"Like I haven't heard that a million times already."

Emilia rolled her eyes. Another leaving party-goer waved as she passed the crew.

"I don't feel anxious. Not all the time. I just...feel like I need to fight."

"Isn't that the same? Fight-or-flight, right? What if you felt like you needed to run all the time?"

She hadn't thought of it that way, and didn't have an answer for him.

"'Sides, its not about feeling anxious all the time. Every now and again, more than normal. If it's bothering you, it's serious." He leaned back, hands on the sand. "I was really nervous all throughout middle school. I never really knew why, but I didn't bother finding out 'cause by the time I reached high school it didn't bother me anymore. It comes back if you don't deal with it though."

"So what do you do now?"

"Deal with things now so they don't come back to haunt you later. Deal with things that happened in the past. Even the little things. It doesn't even have to be connected to the whole fighting problem. Somebody said something that upset you a week ago? Go talk to them about it. Your chemistry teacher in 9th grade gave you a D on something you thought was at least a B? Call 'em up. Upset with the economy?"

"-Overthrow the government?" She punched his shoulder playfully.

"I mean, you could try."

They shared a laugh. It felt good.

"You could always come talk to me, too, y'know. I'm always here."

"I know, dude...Thanks."

It was late, the sun almost completely hidden on the horizon. When the boardwalk lights activated, the two stood. For once Emilia thought that, maybe, things didn't have to be the same as always.


Once again I give advice that I'm not 100% sure should be taken seriously but idk it's just fiction dude

Also posted to my AO3 ヽ(*・ω・)ノ