A/N: I know I shouldn't be starting a new story 'cause I'm working on two others but I had to do it. This is based off of something that someone I know told me and it just pulled at my heart. Anyway, I hope you read, review, and enjoy. :)

Disclaimer: Nothing that is recognizable is owned by me.

Change Of Heart

The abuse never stopped. I knew an ending would not come. But I always hoped and prayed. The pain began when I was in ninth grade, and it became an ongoing thing. I had joined the football team years earlier and had begun playing basketball not long after. I had the girl of my dreams, Maryse, with me, and, at first, everything was perfect. Then, my world came crashing down.

x-X-x

I was standing by my locker after school, gathering my books. My friend, Shannon, was next to me, waiting like always. I heard footsteps coming toward us.

"Jeff," an accented voice said. I looked up and saw Maryse before me, looking as beautiful as ever. "We need to talk." She glanced in Shannon's direction. "Alone."

Shannon was speaking before I could. "Alone, huh? Then why don't you tell your stupid bimbo friend to get out of here?" Shannon didn't like the popular crowd, especially Maryse and her friend, Alicia, but he put up with them for me.

Maryse sneered at my friend. "Fine. Alicia, go wherever it is that you have to go. I need to speak to Jeff." While she spoke to Alicia, she didn't take her eyes off of Shannon. "Happy now? You can leave anytime now."

Giving me a pat on the back, Shannon started to leave. "I'll talk to you later, man. See ya." Once he was gone, I turned to Maryse.

"'Kay. Shoot. What do you wanna talk about?"

She looked straight into my eyes. "Jeff, we've been together for a while now, and things have been great. You're great. It's just…" She paused and looked down at the floor. When she looked back up at me, her eyes were sorry. "It's not working. I…I think we need to break up."

That took me by surprise. "What are you talking about? I thought everything was going fine. What…what happened?"

"I don't know," she said and I could tell she was being honest. "Things changed. I changed. Even you changed. I thought I loved you. I think at the time, I did. But I guess it just got, I don't know, flat." She shrugged, showing indifference. "I mean, it's not like we were going to be together forever. You know that none of these stupid, little high school relationships ever work." At that moment, it occurred to me that she really didn't care. "Sorry, Jeff."

Her eyes showed no emotion as she left me standing at my locker like an idiot. I was unable to wrap my mind around it. She had just broken up with me, showing no signs of caring at all. It felt like the horrifying start of a terrifying nightmare.

Before anyone saw me, I got myself together. I rode the bus home in silence, thinking about what Maryse had said to me. I guess it just got, I don't know, flat. What did she mean? I didn't think there was anything wrong. Maybe I had just been blind this whole time.

"Hey," I heard a girl say. When I looked up to see who was talking, I was greeted with a pair of green eyes. Maria Kanellis. "You look like you're in deep thought," she said. "What's going on?"

I shook my head. "Nothin' much. How 'bout you? Anything spectacular been happening with you?" I had known Maria since kindergarten. We weren't the closest of friends, but we talked occasionally. She wasn't one of the preppy girls. They were somewhat afraid of her, probably because she was different than them. Her flaming red hair was the perfect example of that. She didn't want to be an imitation of Maryse. All Maria wanted was to be herself. She reminded me of myself in that respect. Never waiting for the next fad, just being yourself, no matter how weird you look.

She sighed. "No. Just a lot of homework has been thrust upon me. I haven't been here for a few days. The teachers are really mad at me." Her bottom lip jutted out in the form of a pout.

I chuckled at her statement and at her expression. "Yeah. I know what you mean. I had the flu once and was gone for, like, a week, and the teachers went all crazy on me. The week after that was hectic."

"I personally think that the school just hates us. Especially the principal. Mr. Regal really has it in for us. The lunches are gross, we never get to go outside when the weather is nice. We're in Connecticut; it's barely ever hot out. And when it is, we're cramped in stupid classrooms." She shuddered. "No teachers like the students. They just pretend that they love us."

"I feel the same way," I said. "Those people are gonna be so happy when we are gone. I think Mr. Striker will be jumpin' for joy and doing a happy dance on the last day of school."

"No, that won't happen until we graduate. Then, he'll know for sure that he won't see us again." Her voice lowered to a whisper. "You know, he hates Mickie the most."

"What? Mickie? Everyone loves her. She's the only kid that the teachers really do like." I couldn't believe that it was possible for someone to dislike a girl like Mickie James. She was pretty much the nicest person in the world.

"Well, I overheard him talking to Ms. Guerrero, and he just kept badmouthing her. He said that she never shuts up in class, or something like that."

During this time with Maria, I completely forgot my problems with Maryse. I was now too engrossed with the fact that Mr. Striker couldn't stand Mickie James. "There's a bunch of others that talk constantly in his class. There has to be something else."

"I don't know. She does great on her tests and everything else. She's such a sweetheart though. How can he live with himself, hating her?"

"That makes no sense at all. She's friends with everyone."

As Maria nodded in agreement with me, the bus was coming to a stop. She looked up. "Um. This is my stop. I'll see you tomorrow." She gave me a little wave and then walked away, out of the bus.

I waved back at her, all of a sudden feeling depressed. I was alone, with no one to talk to because I didn't like most of the people riding with me. My coldness toward some of them did not stop them from trying to make small talk. Some of them even tried to have a full conversation with me.

One of the guys, Mike Mizanin, sat on my seat next to me. This was a guy who really didn't like me, but usually pretended to be my friend. A classic high school move. "So, Hardy, I heard you and Maryse are over." He smirked at me. "What'd you do?"

"Mike, I really don't wanna talk about it," I told him.

"Why?" he asked, taunting me. "You think you didn't do anything wrong? 'Cause you must've. Maryse didn't break up with me when we were together. No, that was all me. I got rid of her."

Of all the people in the world, why did I have to get stuck in this conversation with him? If it was Maria, I probably wouldn't have minded so much talking about it, but I couldn't tell her. I certainly did not want to tell Mike.

"Dude, just leave me alone," I pleaded.

"No, Hardy. I want to know every little detail. What did you do to Maryse?" he continued. Mike had a thing where if he didn't know something, he'd always find a way to get it out of a person, but I wasn't breaking.

"No, Mike. Just go away. It's my business and Maryse's. Not yours." Shannon would have been proud of me. I didn't usually stick up for myself so this was kind of a big deal.

"Uh-uh. You're not getting away that easily. I'm gonna find out. You can count on that. I'll get it out of Maryse. I guarantee it." Mike was acting as snobby as ever and I had to admit that I was a little afraid of him.

The bus was coming to another stop and I hastily realized that it was mine. "Uh, Mike, I, uh, gotta go." He angrily moved out of the way. I nearly ran off the bus. As it sped off, I actually did begin to run down the driveway. When I got inside my front door, I looked around the living room and spotted my brother, Matt.

"Whoa, Jeff," he said as soon as he saw me. "What's wrong with you. You came in that door in an awful hurry."

"Um, yeah." How could I explain this one? "I was just… I had a bad day at school and really wanted to be home. I'm just tired."

"All right," he warily said. I didn't think he believed me for one second. "Why don't you go take a nap then or something?"

"I'm not sure if I can. I always had a problem sleeping in the middle of the day." I laughed nervously.

"Oh, you little liar. I know for a fact that you sleep in almost every class," Matt said, catching me in my falsehood. Thankfully, all he did was let out a laugh. "Just sit down and watch some TV with me."

I put my backpack on the floor and took a seat next to Matt on the couch. He had a car and wasn't forced to ride the stupid bus like me so he could get home a lot quicker. Therefore, he always got the television in the evening. "What's on?"

Matt pointed at the screen. "It's a rerun of 'Rock Of Love.' What's up with all of these stupid celebrity dating shows? None of them even make sense."

"I don't know. At least 'Daisy Of Love' isn't on. That's probably the worst out of all of them. She's not even a celebrity," I ranted. "And on top of that, she's nasty looking."

"Right on, brother." Matt lifted his hand, signaling a high five. I granted him one. "None of the girls on this show even look half decent. They all just look like…"

We both laughed, not needing him to say the word. "Hey, where's Dad?" I asked since I hadn't seen him around nor was his car in the driveway.

"Oh, I think he said he had to go buy some groceries or something. You know, his weekly routine."

I simply nodded. Since our mom died when we were younger, my dad had to do a lot of the things that the woman usually does in the household. We knew it was hard on Dad, but there wasn't much that we could do.

Time went by slowly and I still never told Matt what had happened that day. He probably wouldn't even really care. He'd just laugh and say I was acting like a baby. I love Matt and everything but sometimes he can be pretty insensitive.

When I heard the door open, I jumped, only to find out it was only my dad.

"Hey, boys," he said, holding large paper bags. "How'd school go today?"

Matt went on some long spiel about what his entire day consisted of. Not one detail was left out. Apparently, he was in a very descriptive mood.

"Sounds good," Dad said. "How about you, Jeff? What's going on with you?"

I gave him my stock answer. "No. We did everything we do everyday. There wasn't anything new. All boring."

He gave me a slight nod. "Not eventful, huh? My day wasn't either. Work and shopping. Not as fun as it sounds, gentlemen."

There was silence for a few moments until Matt spoke up. "Dad, Shane's probably gonna be comin' over later. Is that cool?"

I suppressed a groan. Shane Helms and I weren't always on good terms. He had a knack for annoying me. I think, for him, it was just natural, basic instincts.

My dad didn't even have to think. He loved Shane. "Yeah, sure. Have him over."

"Awesome," Matt said. "I think he said he'd be here around six. I'll call him to make sure." He walked out of the living room, holding his cell phone.

Dad turned to me. "Jeff, why don't you invite Shannon to come over? Haven't seen him for a while."

"Yeah, he's been busy after school. There's some science thing that he's doing." I pondered over that for a second. "Maybe he won't have to do anything tomorrow. I'll ask him later."

My dad didn't say much more on the subject so I took that as my cue to leave. I went into my bedroom. My laptop sat on my computer. I hadn't used it for some time so I figured I may as well get on and send an email to Shannon. All that was in it was that I really needed to talk to him. It was urgent. If there was anyone I could talk to about Maryse, it was Shannon. I trusted him with all of my deepest, darkest secrets. He was as true as any friend could be.

I hadn't instant messaged anybody in a long time so I decided I should do that. I had nothing better to do after all. I noticed that one of Matt's friends, Adam, was online. Matt and Adam had a falling out a few years earlier because Adam stole my brother's girlfriend at the time, Amy. But since then, they each made amends and were all friends. Even Matt's new girlfriend, Eve, was okay with the whole situation.

Adam was shocked to hear from me. I hadn't had a real conversation with him in a long time, but he was happy to hear from me nonetheless. Our online chat was brief but it did feel good to talk to him. We said out good-byes after chatting for about fifteen minutes.

I got back onto my email account and saw that I had one unread message. It was from Shannon so I opened it.

Hey, Jeff. What do u need 2 say?

I didn't want to have this talk on the Internet so I replied and told him I'd have to tell him tomorrow. I also asked if he'd be able to come over to my house then. When he replied a few minutes later, he said he could and it eased my mind. I knew I could count on him.

I was just about ready to sign out when a new message popped up. I was surprised to see that is was from Maria.

Hi! Shannon gave me ur email address so I figured I'd send u one. How's everything going? :)

I typed up a quick reply, still startled that she sent me a message. I told her I was fine but bored and that I'd talk to her on the bus. Her reply was that she would save me a seat.

Smiling to myself, I went into the kitchen and fixed myself a sandwich. As I was about to take the first bite, my cell phone vibrated. I looked at the screen to see who it was. Many surprises were coming to me; it said it was Mike. The text had two sentences: She told me what you did. You're gonna pay.

His words made no sense to me. I hadn't done anything. What had Maryse told him? As far as I knew, she and I had no problems until she broke up with me. More importantly, though, how was he going to make me pay?

I was becoming more and more scared of this guy. I had barely ever said two words to Mike and now he was threatening me. Nothing was going my way.

I didn't text him back. I ate my sandwich and then went back into my room. I thought maybe taking a nap would help, but it didn't. Matt and Shane were yelling and screaming at the TV in the other room. I just lay in my bed, thinking of all the odd things that had happened today.

Hours passed and finally I was able to find sleep. I expected to have a dreamless night as I usually do, but sometimes we don't get what we wish for…

In my dream, or as I'm going to call it my nightmare, none other than Mike was there. The moment I saw his face, I cowered. Just seeing him there brought chills to my spine. He, along with his other basketball friends, stepped closer to me. I backed up until I was up against a wall. There was no escaping now. They glared at me, their eyes blazing.

"You're gonna pay, Jeff," Mike said, repeating what was said in his text. The guys were getting even closer. "Maryse told me what you did. You can't keep on doing things like that." His voice was menacing. It terrified me. "What's wrong, Hardy? You don't seem so much like a man now, huh? Come on; fight me."

He was too close now. I couldn't run away even if I tried. All of the jocks were there. Zack Ryder, Chris Irvine, Ted Dibiase, Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, and more. They were all around me, sparking my fear even more.

The look on Mike's face told me that, even in a dream, he wasn't going to take it easy on me. I wished that I had some clue as to what he was talking about. Nothing was adding up. I had never done anything at all to Maryse. Nothing cruel, anyway.

The group of torturers was circling me. In my mind, I kept praying that they wouldn't touch me. They were all stronger than me alone. What would they be like combined?

My dream was not going my way. If I had been in control of the situation, I wouldn't mind so much. But I wasn't. Everything was being dominated by the jocks of the school.

Mike began shouting things at me. Obscenities, insults, you name it. He called me a coward, a jerk, spineless, a no good, rotten human being. I actually thought that some of the names he threw out fit him a lot better. I wouldn't dare to say that to his face though.

Standing just a few centimeters away from me, Mike mouthed the word "freak" to me. His friends knew what he did and began to snicker. They were all in it together.

Mike just smirked at me condescendingly. "Well, that is all you are, Hardy. A rainbow haired freak show. You look like you belong to a circus, for Pete's sake! Why don't you just live with the carnival people when they come to town? Maybe then you'd fit in somewhere."

I looked down. For the most part, I knew that I didn't belong. I'd known it since I was little. My dream was right. He was right.

"Look at this, boys," he said to his group. "I think I made the little baby cry." He laughed. "Yeah, you're definitely not tough now." He lifted his hand and all I saw was it about to come into contact with my face…

x-X-x

I woke up in a cold sweat. I was shivering. Terrified. Thankfully, my nightmare had no real conclusion, not one that I actually witnessed. It just appeared to be over. After that, I was unable to go back to sleep. I thought about what might happen in school tomorrow. I had an uneasy feeling that Mike was going to make me pay tomorrow.

Was that any good? I like it somewhat but it hurts, you know? Let me know if you like it, if I should continue, and so on in a review. :)