Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective owners.
Author's notes: Brace yourself! This is NOT my typical short one-shot (this round is over two thousand words-a record for me, LOL). This was actually one of my very first My Bodyguard fics that I'd ever written; but because I was experiencing such difficulty finishing it, I placed it on the back burner and churned out the mini-fics that have already been posted on this site. Last week I decided to give the story another go and well, here it is in its final(?) form. Just a fair warning: I took a character from the film and gave her a personality that I saw fit for this story (like how Mrs. Phineas Bogg did with another MB minor character in her wonderfully crafted "The boy with the big green jacket" tale). Please let me know how this turned out! My fic takes place the day after the movie.
08/06/11: I hadn't realized my chapter breaks vanished until now, so I went through the fic and added them back in along with doing a quick clean up for any spelling/grammar mistakes.
Shelley didn't expect Leilani to ever talk to her after what happened between their two groups of friends yesterday afternoon. Moody and his bodyguard, Mike, attempted to harass Clifford and Ricky only to have the tables turned on them. Mike was taken down by Ricky and Clifford surprised everyone by beating Moody in a fight - not to mention breaking his nose in the process!
Leilani was playing with the ends of her silky, blonde curls, seemingly lost in her own world. Like a ghost, Shelley slipped into the desk behind her. The two weren't the best of friends and they never hung out at lunch time or after school, but they usually found themselves talking to one another and occasionally partnered up for assignments. In the past, whenever Moody snaked into their conversations, their focuses shifted squarely upon him; it was Shelley that received the short end of the stick, despite the many compliments and little things that she did for him (like taking notes for him or saving him a seat). Other than that, they got along fine.
Shelley started to take out her notebook and pencil when Leilani slowly turned around and acknowledged her.
The brunette offered her typical, cheery smile. "Hey," she greeted back. "What's up?" She hesitated, unsure if she should ask, but then decided to press forth. "How's Moody?"
Leilani rolled her eyes. "Like I care. I'm never going to waste my time with him again."
"Were you guys going out?" In the past, Shelley would have experienced a pang of jealousy. Despite the fact that Moody humiliated her from time to time, she couldn't help but be attracted to his suave good looks and self-confidence (though she now knew it was just the polite way of calling him an "asshole").
"He'd been annoying me lately but we were going to go on an official date last night. He was always bragging about his reign over the school and his lame bodyguard. I know the way he was treating everybody lately was really awful. After he broke his nose, I gave up on him."
Leilani paused and examined her polished fingernails. "Hmm, I'm glad I didn't date Melvin in the first place. None of those kids deserved what happened to them. You know what the worst thing was? He almost stained my new blouse with his blood. God, how pathetic."
Shelley shifted in her seat some, realizing how shallow Leilani could sound. Never the less she was relieved to hear that she wasn't so fond of the bullies anymore (well, Melvin, at least). "What're you gonna do now? I mean, guy-wise? Did you like anybody who wasn't like Moody?"
Leilani giggled. "Moody was pretty hot."
Looking over her shoulder, she noticed the teacher hadn't arrived and only about half of the students were present. Once she secured the area, she looked back at Shelley and whispered, "Maybe, but I don't know..."
"Ohhh? I promise I won't say anything!"
Leilani mused over her eager classmate. Shelley didn't have too many girlfriends (at least that she knew of) and she seemed pretty nice. She'd only been chatting with her since the beginning of the school year and she frankly liked the girl, even if she wasn't up to her social status. But it wasn't like they were really friends or anything-she was just someone to chat with during class and whose conversations proved to be entertaining at times.
"All right, but keep it quiet! It's…"
Before she could continue, more students hustled into the classroom with Ms. Jump right on their heels.
"Let's get down to business," the teacher announced as she made a bee-line to the chalkboard. "Take out yesterday's notes and we'll continue where we left off. Due to that false fire alarm we had, we're trailing behind the other classes. "
Leilani fell silent and quickly faced the front before Shelley could get another word in. The brunette pressed her lips together and pouted before giving up.
As Leilani closed her locker, she heard Shelley's laughter behind her. Turning around and holding her binder to her chest, she saw the girl standing on the other side of the hallway with Clifford Peache, Ricky Linderman, and a couple of other classmates whose names she couldn't bother herself to remember. She focused on Clifford as he was engaged in a conversation with the entire group, using his hands to make some wild gestures. Whatever he said made everybody erupt with laughter.
I can't believe it, Leilani thought to herself as she studied the way Clifford's hair moved with every motion he made, the way his blue eyes seemed to shine with such maturity. He was so different from Melvin besides the obvious physical features. She recalled the way he stood up to him at the park yesterday. He was such a scrawny looking guy; he didn't look like he could hurt a fly. But the way he'd stood up to him in front of everybody, even with a bodyguard…!
She sighed sharply and faced her locker, her fingernails digging into her binder and leaving permanent marks. Why did it have to be him? This school had way hotter guys, especially the seniors. They could be models or Hollywood actors. Clifford wasn't drop dead gorgeous like the boys she could think of off the top of her head. No, it was his level-headedness and his confidence that was most pleasing.
But what would people say about her? What would they even think if they saw the two of them walking hand-in-hand down the hallway? She had no trouble admitting that she was one of the prettiest girls in school who could get any boy she wanted. Why would she be caught dead with someone like Clifford?
Because I think I really kind of like him, she argued with herself.
Familiar voices unexpectedly called out her name. The gals she hung out with at lunch time were just down the corridor in the direction of her next class. She decided she needed to get away from the atmosphere as quickly as possible.
The blonde and her group of friends stopped in their tracks in the school parking lot and saw Shelley bouncing over to them. The harsh whispers around Leilani erupted instantly.
"It's the dork that liked Moody."
"Hee hee, yeah, but it's nothing to be proud of now."
"No duh, but before when he was gorgeous and tough."
As Shelley came closer, Leilani turned to her friends and told them that she would catch up.
"Don't take too long," one girl remarked snidely. "Some people might think you two are actually friends or something."
Leilani smirked but said nothing as her friends walked off. Sometimes they could be real cruel but it wasn't as if she was completely innocent herself. On her best days she could be queen of the bitches.
"You forgot to tell me who you liked," Shelley announced as she stood before the popular blonde.
"Really? Is that what was bugging you?" Leilani scowled and pushed aside loose strands of hair from her forehead.
"Oh, come on. You totally left me hanging in English! Wait, lemme guess who it might be."
Before Leilani could answer, Shelley suggested, "It's Ricky, right?"
Leilani instantly gasped and choked at the mention of Linderman. "Omigod," she gasped after she regained her composure. She immediately looked around to make sure nobody saw her comical reaction. "Please tell me you're joking."
"I've seen the way you look at him in class," Shelley said with a small chuckle. "I can't help but notice because you sit in front of me and I see your head looking in that direction from time to time."
"It is NOT him - never, never, never!" While Leilani remained poised, the mere thought of Ricky and herself made her want to throw up. She didn't care if he did become the school's savior against bullies for a time. He was so not her type. "Shelley, I was never looking at him."
"Oh? Then who is it?"
"Ugh, Shelley, please… who else do you think?"
"You were supposed to tell me, remember?"
Shelley waggled her eyebrows and grinned. Leilani cursed her inward because she'd gotten her there. "You have to swear you won't tell a soul. You know how popular I am and if anybody finds out-"
"Sure, sure," the brunette replied casually. "I promise. Now, who is it?"
Leilani took a long, steady breath, exhaled then quietly (and rather quickly) admitted, "Clifford."
Shelley's mouth form a giant "o" shape. Leilani instantly regretted what she did, but instead of the reaction she was expecting (mild shock), Shelley simply said, "Isn't he great?"
"Um, you aren't surprised?"
"Well, of course I'm surprised! But ever since Clifford came to our school, things have been turning out for the better. Sure we had that rough patch with the constant bullying and extortions all, but in the end it all worked out. I knew it would all work out anyways - you know I'm always right about these things - but still, I think it's great! When are you gonna tell him how you feel? You want me to tell him?"
"No!" Leilani hissed, her cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. "You promised not to say anything!"
"Whoops, yeah, I did." Shelley laughed cheerfully. "Well, what are you gonna do, then? Will you tell him before the school year ends? Or will you wait?"
"Shelley, someone like me can't go up to someone like him and admit how I feel. It's not right."
"Why?" Shelley's smile slowly faded.
"People will talk. I don't want them making fun of me."
"Wait, what? You're that worried about what the other kids will think?"
Tossing her curls over her shoulders, Leilani placed her hands upon her hips, the redness of her skin finally disappearing. "Oh come on, Shelley. I'm sure Clifford's a good guy. I saw what he did but it's just…"
She tried to put into words how difficult it would be for someone like her and for someone like him to be out in public. There would just be too much pressure on her and the constant stares and gossip about her would never end. Even if they managed a relationship, for even the shortest amount of time, the memories of how others viewed her would remain with her forever. God, what was wrong with her?
"Do you really have to worry about what other people think about you?"
"YES!" Leilani snapped, irritated that Shelley somehow was able to read her mind. "I don't want them to think any less of me! I can't risk losing anything just because of what I feel towards him! There is so much pressure being who I am and who I hang out with. I can't risk losing any of it because I like someone like him! I only told you because you guys hang out or whatever. Part of me, the stupid and desperate part of me, thought that maybe you could help me get to him… but now I wish I hadn't said anything!"
Shelley's face was crestfallen and her shoulders sagged. After a few uncomfortable moments, she asked, "How do you feel when people see me and you talking to each other?"
Leilani hesitated and her eyes shifted away, refusing to meet the other's inquisitive stare.
"I used to be a little embarrassed but it's not so bad now. I guess you're cool by association. Just a little, though."
"Oh." Shelley didn't bother hiding the disappointment in her tone. It didn't last long, however, because her voice eventually found its cheerful, confident, and steady pitch. "You know what? It's fine. I know I'm not cool like you but I don't worry about that stuff. I'm just glad to have the friends I do have because they don't care who I hang out with."
Then she added, "Clifford doesn't care about his social status. He's the type of guy who would treat you well because that's the kind of person he is."
Leilani swallowed a lump in her throat and kept her mouth shut. She still refused to look at the other girl because she didn't want to admit that she was right.
"Well," Shelley announced. "I'm gonna get going. The gang and I are going to the hamburger joint that just opened down the street. If you want, stop on by! Clifford will be there and don't worry, I won't say anything. I'll wait for you to do that."
Shelley's footsteps skidded along the asphalt until the sounds vanished all together. Leilani could now only gawk at where Shelley once stood. Lifting a hand, she touched her cheek and felt something wet. She pulled her fingers back and huffed. Her makeup was smeared, ruined. She'd have to find a bathroom to fix her face. Suddenly, she saw that her whole hand was trembling slightly and her vision was becoming blurry.
"I don't care," she whispered harshly, trying to convince herself, as she used the back of her arm to temporarily remedy her appearance. "Whatever. I don't care. I just can't be seen with someone like him…"
Deep down, she knew she was probably giving up on a good and decent guy - all for the sake of maintaining her popularity. She'd give herself a few days to get Clifford out of her head. She considered becoming friendly with a linebacker on the football team that'd been eyeing her while she was hanging out with Moody and his boys…
On her way to the bathroom to better fix her appearance before catching up with her friends, she couldn't help but ultimately realize…
In the end, Shelley was right about these things.