Title: Inner Strength
Chapter: 1/?
Pairing: Don/Megan
Rating: FRMA
Warning: Mentions of Rape
Summary: Megan discovers her inner strength at a price...
Category: AU, High School Fic.

x

The bell buzzed loudly, echoing through the silent classrooms, seconds before the pupils erupted with a roar of elation as they stuffed books in backpacks and made plans to meet up before the biggest party of the year.

Don Eppes was one of the few students who remained silent as he packed away his school things and made his way out of the classroom, ignoring the calls of his best friend telling him to wait.

The group of people parted in front of him as though he were Moses parting the Red Sea, not the captain of the baseball team going to meet his cheerleader girlfriend. Megan Reeves' history class was on the opposite side of the school to his English class and it took Don a while to get there, having to double back once to avoid the construction work on the third floor.

He could see Megan waiting from the end of the corridor and he smiled to himself as his brown eyes ran from the top of her head, down her sculptured body and toned legs to her sneaker clad feet. She really was beautiful and Don knew he was lucky to go out with her when dozens of guys, both jocks and geeks, would kill to take her on just one single date.

As Don got closer his eyes narrowed in annoyance when he saw the curly haired boy standing next to his girlfriend. His younger brother should be in junior high, far away from Don and his friends; not in high school and the same classes as Don. Megan was talking to Charlie and both were laughing animatedly.

"Hey!" Megan greeted, looking up and spotting her boyfriend heading towards them, with a sour look on his face. She leant up and pressed a kiss on his cheek as his arm slid around her waist.

Charlie shifted nervously. "Hey, Don," he whispered at the ground, his happy demeanour vanishing instantly at his big brother's appearance. "Could you give me a ride home?"

Don scowled, his eyes narrowing in annoyance at being his brother's free personal taxi. "Can't bro, we're going to a party tonight. Meg's gotta get changed at her house first."

Charlie looked crestfallen and Megan shook her head. "No, Don, it's okay. I've brought a change of clothes in my gym bag; I can get changed at your house. We can give Charlie a ride." She flashed a smile at the younger boy who blushed bashfully.

Don glared at his girlfriend as they made their way through the building down to the parking lot. Megan knew how much he detested Charlie hanging around with him, yet still seemed to invite him along at every given opportunity. She had already been instructed not to invite him along to the party that night.

Charlie had barely closed the car door when Don put his foot down and sped out of the parking lot, heading towards their craftsman house. Their father's car was in the driveway as Don pulled up to the kerb, but their mother's was nowhere in sight; she was probably at the market or something.

Megan eyed the baseball player as he shut off the engine and climbed out of the car, he hadn't said one word to Charlie for the entire ride. In fact he had spent the entire journey blatantly ignoring and pretending the younger Eppes wasn't in the car.

Alan was exiting the kitchen, carrying a steaming bowl of soup as Don pushed the door open allowing the trio to enter the house. "Hey boys… Megan," he greeted, sliding into a chair at the dining table.

Don nodded his head in greeting, dropping his backpack on the floor next to the door and toeing his sneakers off.

Megan grinned and placed her gym bag and backpack next to Don's on the floor. "Hey, Mr Epees," she greeted. "Something smells good."

The Eppes patriarch grinned and dipped his spoon in the bowl. "French Onion," he advised her, blowing on the steaming liquid a little. "There's some on the stove and you know where the rolls are."

Megan grinned and thanked him as she headed into the kitchen to help herself to some delicious soup.

Don rolled his eyes and muttered something about going to get changed before heading up the stairs to his room. He had showered after gym class so didn't bother to take another; instead he pulled his closet open and studied the contents for a moment.

When he headed back downstairs, wearing a dark T-shirt and equally dark jeans, he groaned when he saw Megan sitting at the table next to Charlie. Books were strewn across the tabletop and Charlie was babbling about something that Don knew he had no hope in understanding.

Alan noticed his eldest son before anyone else and crossed the room. "You know, Donnie, your girlfriend spends more time with your brother than you do."

Don sighed and rolled his eyes in annoyance, he was fed-up of having to listen to his parents nag him about how little time he spent with the annoyance that was Charles Eppes. "Yeah, well… Meg likes him for some reason. She should be glad she doesn't have to live with him."

Megan looked up when she heard Don's voice and an appreciative smile graced her face as her eyes ran up and down the length of his body, admiring the sight of him in dark colours. "Sorry, Charlie but I'm going to have to get changed now." She ruffled his curly hair a little as she got up.

Charlie nodded his head understandingly, not caring that she was leaving; he was just happy someone Don's age liked spending time with him, even if Don didn't.

She squeezed Don's arm as she grabbed her gym bag and headed up to his room to get changed into her outfit for the party.

With a sigh, Don stalked past the table, almost knocking over various books of his brothers as he passed. Charlie let out an indignant, "Hey!" but Don ignored him as he headed into the sitting room to wait for Megan.

She returned a short while later wearing a mid-thigh length black skirt and a royal blue sequinned top. Don had seen the outfit before and knew that the back of the shirt was missing completely. A fact Megan had been clever enough to cover with a thin black jacket while they were still at home.

Charlie's eyes followed her every movement as she descended the stairs; making no effort to hide the fact that he was watching her. Don noticed his actions and this time as he passed he made sure he elbowed the young genius in the back of his head, making him look away in a hurry.

Margaret exited the kitchen as Don threw on his leather jacket and grabbed his wallet and keys from the sideboard. "You look beautiful, Megan," she complimented, replacing the dead flowers on the table with a fresh vase.

Megan blushed and smoothed her long hair down. "Thanks, Mrs Eppes," she whispered, handing Don her gym bag as he opened the door.

"We're leaving now!" Don shouted to his dad who had disappeared into the sunroom.

"Don, don't forget we won't be here when you get back. We're spending the night at your Uncle Tommy's. The number is on the refrigerator in case you need it!" Margaret called after her son.

All she got in response was a wave of his hand as he headed outside and put the bag in the trunk of the car.

Megan paused in the doorway, turning back to the youngest Eppes. "Charlie?" The curly haired boy looked up expectantly. "You'll have to let me know what result you get from those figures."

Charlie beamed and blushed to the roots of his hair as she exited the house, closing the door behind her.

Don was leaning against the black car as Megan hurried her way down the drive. She rolled her eyes when she saw him scowling at her. "Don't look like that," she soothed, putting a hand on his cheek before climbing into the car.

He followed her example and started the engine. "You know he likes you," he commented, pulling out of the driveway. "Every time you speak he hangs on your every word. All he talks about is Math and you."

Megan laughed and shrugged her jacket off now she was away from his parents. "That's funny… every time we speak all he talks about is Math and you," she countered.

Don snorted with laughter and shook his head. "Yeah, right," he muttered darkly.

"He idolises you, Don," she insisted, reaching back and placing her jacket on the back seat. "Even though he knows you hate him." She shifted in her seat, trying to get comfortable.

Don glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and swallowed thickly when he noticed that her skirt had drifted up dangerously high on her thigh. "Listen, I was thinking…" He pulled up to the front of the large house, which was serving as the venue for the party.

"What do you say we forget the party and have a little fun of our own?" he suggested, turning in his seat slightly, his brown eyes twinkling, his hand sliding up her thigh to the hem of her skirt.

The corners of Megan's mouth turned up in a smile and she leant over, pressing her lips against her boyfriend's softly. "As tempting as that sounds, I don't think it's such a good idea." The kiss deepened and Don tried pushing the fabric even higher, but stopped when he felt her hand on his.

"It's a party celebrating the baseball team's victory. You kinda have to show your face, being captain of the team and all."

Don groaned and pressed their foreheads together. "I hate when you're right," he muttered, looking into her green eyes.

Megan grinned and kissed him lightly. "I don't."

x

The party was being hosted by Billy Cooper, a fellow member of Don's baseball team and one of his best friends. The large manor house was overflowing with people by the time Megan and Don arrived and it was almost impossible to get in the front door.

"Coop!" Don cried over the din of music pounding from the stereo.

Billy turned and grinned when he saw the couple weaving through the throng toward them. "Eppes!" he greeted, clapping the captain on the back. "Reeves, you look very hot tonight."

Megan rolled her eyes and hugged him in greeting. She laughed when she felt Don wrap an around her waist, pulling her closer protectively. "Sorry, Coop. Looks like Donnie gets jealous."

"Damn straight I do," he muttered, kissing her cheek before heading over to the bar to get them both drinks.

Megan glanced around the room and grinned when she saw her own friends near the fireplace, talking between themselves.

"Don!" Colby called from the opposite end of the room, standing on his toes to see over the crowd.

A few hands gestures and confused looks later, Don turned back to Megan with an apologetic smile on his face. Before he could say anything, she kissed him on the lips. "Go," she urged. "I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself. Besides, Liz and Amita are over there."

Don flashed her a bright smile and assured her he'd keep reappearing with drinks at regular intervals, seconds before Coop grabbed his arm and dragged him towards Colby.

x

The gang of people in the house was thinner several hours later; most of Coop's guests had moved to the backyard to watch the band Billy had booked. Amita, Megan and Liz decided against it, opting to stay inside and talk with each other now they could actually move without banging into someone else.

True to his word, Don had appeared regularly or so carrying a fresh drink for her. Pausing to make out with her, before returning to whatever he had been doing with his friends.

Megan laughed and took a long drink from the cup in her hand. "God, it's warm in here," she breathed, fanning a hand in front of her face.

Amita and Liz exchanged confused looks. Megan barely had anything on and was complaining about the heat, yet they were wearing turtleneck sweaters and were fine. "Are you feeling okay?" Amita asked quietly. "You look a bit flushed."

Megan nodded her head, waving her hand dismissively as she drank the remainder of her drink. "I'm fine," she assured them. "Just need some fresh air. I'm going outside for a few minutes."

She stood up and swayed dangerously on her feet, making Liz reach out a hand to steady her. "You're drunk," she stated.

Megan laughed and shook her head, her hair swaying with her movements. "You know it takes more than a couple of beers to get me drunk. I'll see you guys in a minute."

Outside the night was cool and she shivered, wishing she hadn't left her jacket in Don's car. Her head was pounding, blood rushing in her ears as it rushed to her brain. She sighed and leant back against the wall, not knowing what was wrong with her. Her alcohol tolerance was exceptionally high and Don hadn't brought her that many drinks so she shouldn't be feeling like she did.

Taking several deep breaths she pushed herself off the wall, intent on going to find Don so she could sit in his car for a little while until she felt better.

Suddenly the world began to spin and the only thing Megan could do to help herself was hold her hands out in front of her so she didn't hit her head on the garden path when she passed out.

x

Don grinned and watched as Colby tossed his head back and downed the vodka in his shot glass. He had just arrived at the drinking contest but, judging by the number of empty shot glasses in front of the wrestler, he would guess that Colby was winning.

Colby grimaced and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, his hazel eyes silently challenging his opponent Ben to take another drink. When Ben shook his head and turned his shot glass over, signalling defeat, the large crowd gathered around them whooped in joy and victory.

"I think I'm gonna barf," Colby groaned, getting to his feet and almost landing on Don.

The baseball player groaned and tried to support Colby weight. Even with the help of David, the other teenager was not an easy weight to shift. "Not on me you're not." He glanced at David and suggested taking him around the front to their cars.

Getting to the front of the house was almost as difficult as it had been to get in when they first arrived. "What's going on?" David asked as they manoeuvred their way through the mass of people.

Don shrugged his shoulders as best as he could when he was carrying Colby's dead weight. His brown eyes widened when he saw an ambulance pull away from the house, it's lights flashing and the sirens howling. In the blink of an eye Liz came running up to Don and said something so fast he had no hope of understanding her.

After being instructed, Liz took a breath before repeating what she had just said. "Megan's been attacked."

x

The ride to the hospital was unbearable. Don was the only one able to drive; the shock of his girlfriend being attacked had sobered him up rapidly. David sat in the back with Colby, whose skin had a strange green tint to it. They had been fifteen miles from the hospital when he had to pull over so the wrestler could jump out and decorate the side of the road with his stomach contents.

Don had almost tore the head off the poor receptionist who asked whom they were visiting. He was all for jumping over the front desk and pounding her to a bloody pulp until she told them where Megan was, until David grabbed his arm and dragged him back as Liz diplomatically asked where her best friend was.

The room was empty and dark when Don slipped inside alone, having asked for a few moments alone with his girlfriend before she was bombarded with questions and 'get-well' wishes. It was a private room and the thin curtains were half covering the window, allowing only a thin sliver of silver moonlight to illuminate the room.

He could see the outline of Megan's prone figure lying on the bed, apparently resting after a traumatic night. Slowly he reached out and brushed a hand over the side of her face, closing his eyes sadly.

The instant their skin connected a hand flew up and grabbed his wrist tightly, painfully cutting off circulation to his hand. "Meg!" he gasped, reaching with his free hand to turn on the light. "It's me."

Megan's confused green eyes studied him for a long moment before she reluctantly released his arm. Don couldn't believe how pale the cheerleader looked; ashen against the stark hospital sheets. She licked her lips and grimaced when she felt how dry they were. "What time is it?" she croaked.

"Three am," he replied softly, pulling the chair close to the bed and sliding into it. "Meg, what happened?" he whispered.

The young girl opened her mouth to respond, but before she could say anything, the door flew open and a burly police officer burst in. "Are you Don Eppes?" he grunted.

Don replied the affirmative and was roughly pulled from his seat, spun around and pushed against the curtained glass wall. "What the hell?" he cried as he was quickly checked for weapons.

His hands were pulled behind his back and he felt the cool steel of handcuffs against his wrists. "Mr Eppes, you're under arrest for the rape of Megan Reeves."

TBC