Written for the "Passionate About Paul" one-shot contest
Pen Name: Purelyamuse Twitter: purelyamuse
Title: Give Me Ten Rating: M for language
Primary Players: Paul, Bella
Summary: Bella, Drummer Girl, detests her section leader, Paul, who's hot. Will her attitude pay off, or will she forever sing a song of paraddidles with her best friend, Jake? "Rhythm was in my bones, and I danced to the beat of my own drum, literally." All Human, P/B, M for language and adult themes.
Word Count: 7,464
Beta'd by: MeraNaamJoker
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight saga and all its characters. No copyright infringement is intended. No profits have been received in the production of this piece.
To see other entries in the "Passionate About Paul" contest, please visit
From the Urban Dictionary: Drumline
The section of the band that is always misunderstood. They DO know how to read music (yeah drummers in the band also play mallet instruments in concerts, what a concept) and have the most challenging music, but band is NOT their life. They have to master playing 50+ different instruments, which is why most people find it so fun. Band directors usually blame the drumline for their problems.
Best thing that ever happened to the band. Consists of skilled musicians who, despite rumors, can actually read music. They mesmerize crowds with their awesome beats (haha beats) and kick-ass rhythms.
The best part of the band who can, in fact, read music! *gasp* shocker, I know. And are NOT all guys.
"Drop. Give me ten, Swan."
I unhooked my snare drum, placed it to the side, and dropped obediently starting my push-ups. These weren't girly push-ups. No, these were real I-can-do-it-as-good-as-a-man push-ups. I was not Leah Clearwater, the only other female percussionist in the drumline. She pretended to be tough but really wasn't. Leah did girly push-ups on her knees. I, Bella Swan, did not.
I finished my set and stood, grumbling, "All finished, douche."
Paul's head snapped around, and he glared at me. Crap!
"Now we get to wait longer, 'cause Swan's got a mouth on her. Give me ten. Again!"
I dropped without a word, doing ten more push-ups feeling the burn in my chest and arms.
I hate Paul so much.
Paul Trent was an asshole. And I didn't use that word lightly. In fact, I didn't usually use that word or any other words like it. But for some reason, Paul brought out the worst in me and the best of my playing. And I hated it. All of it. Including him.
"Sometime today, Drummer Girl."
Drummer Girl was a nickname that Paul gave me at band camp my freshman year. I detested and loved the pseudonym simultaneously. At first, I was upset about it, thinking that Paul was making fun of me. He would say it with a snarl or with a laugh. But by the end of band camp, things started to change, and one day he said it with a fierceness that seemed to mean that I was worth a nickname.
It was then that I noticed that Leah had no such nickname. She was simply Leah. Apparently she didn't deserve a nickname. I did.
After band camp, Jacob Black, my best friend, started calling me Drummer Girl, too. It sort of caught on with the rest of the guys and had since become a term of endearment. So, I wore the nickname proudly. To me Drummer Girl means I'm one of the guys, accepted, and that's what mattered most to me – to be considered as good as any other guy, regardless of my sex.
I finished my set of push-ups, stood, and strapped my marching snare back into place. When his back was turned I flipped him off. Jacob started laughing. He shoved his disgusting grubby mallet into his mouth to keep the noise from spreading, but it was too late. It spread, and then the whole of the bass drummers behind him were laughing because of him.
You couldn't help but laugh when Jacob laughed. His laugh was infectious, and it got us in trouble all of the time with our section leader. Our section leader, who was giving Hitler a run for his money.
"What the hell, Black! Ateara! Call, you too! Everyone. All you losers down now. Give me ten!" His face darkened, and his eyes narrowed. He was so pissed. And hot. So freaking hot. Just when I thought he couldn't get any hotter, he ripped his shirt off of his torso in a huff and threw it to the ground. When he got angry, he somehow always ended up shirtless. I didn't complain. It wouldn't be very sportsman-like to do so. At least, that's what I told myself.
A few of the guys grumbled as they set their quints, basses and snares down. He heard it, of course. He was worse than my mother and father put together. He had super hearing and eyes on the back of his head. "Shut up, or I'll make it fifty!"
Everyone did just as he said. We were all on the hard concrete in the blazing sun at 6:30 am doing push-ups, trying not to burn our hands. Phoenix heat was brutal. He walked around us, occasionally kicking someone in the gut, pulling on a leg to flatten someone out, all the while going on his usual tirade. "You think I want to stand here all day and watch you do damn push-ups? This is a waste of my time. You don't wanna play? You wanna act like a bunch of pathetic pieces of shit? Then fine. Just do it on your own time. This . . . this is my time. I'm in charge. Do what I say, or get the hell out of my drumline!"
We couldn't see him, but we heard his snare as he picked it up and attached it to his carrier. He tapped the side with his drumsticks.
"Up!" he commanded. "Eights. Now. Ten seconds to get strapped."
I heard the telltale rhythm of his tapping stick on the tight drumhead, and I felt at peace as I strapped on and took in his bare chest glistening with sweat. I began my own tapping to warm up my hands and got into the zone, trying to ignore what looking at his body did to my own. But that wasn't all that affected me. His looks, his leadership, his perfect grip around his neon green taped sticks, sucked me in. And watching him play drove me into a frenzy. He was an outstanding percussionist. That was where he shined, and where I shined. In fact, I think that was the problem, the reason why he hated me so much.
I was good, damn good, and I was a girl. A girl who played snare drum her freshman year in marching band in his drumline. A freshman making snare was unheard of, except for Paul, of course. So the fact that I was a female, freshman snare drummer really rocked some boats. But, what could I do or say about it? I wasn't going to quit, nor was I going to apologize. Rhythm was in my bones, and I danced to the beat of my own drum, literally.
I had known Paul for four years. I met him in junior high in homeroom. I wanted to get to know him the minute I saw his sticks in his back pocket and realized he was a drummer. At the time, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Now that would make me want to puke because anyone carrying around their sticks to play on a whim is generally a lousy player who wants to show off. Again, the exception being Paul.
My younger self admired him. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to play as well as he did. And I wanted him. But, I was twelve and he was fourteen. It would never happen. I didn't even really have boobs yet at that point, but what we had in common, the fact that we were both percussionists, got him to talk to me. Boy was that a mistake, because as soon as I heard him speak I wanted him more. He was a complete and total asshole. It should have been a turn off, but it wasn't. It was so hot and somehow worked for him. He was the most condescending person I knew, and he could dish out insults like nobody's business. That should have infuriated me, but it didn't. I was a confident young girl, smart too, and I could dish it right back. It didn't matter if he was making fun of my mother, my pencil, or my lack of need for a bra, I could slap him in the face with my cutting words. Basically we hated each other from the beginning, but it didn't matter. I still wanted. And I hated the wanting.
Things got worse from there as he entered high school and played in the marching band with my two older sisters, Alice and Rosalie. Rosalie was the drum major of the marching band Paul's freshman year, and she adored him. They laughed and talked and got along great. At the time, I thought that might have been my way in, but I was wrong.
One evening I called up Rosalie because she was late for curfew, and I knew Mom would go ballistic if she got home from work and Rosalie wasn't there. For some reason, Paul answered the phone, and once he realized it was me he railed at me for being an annoying sister and an annoying person all around. I yelled at him and insulted him the best I could, and then hung up the phone and cried for an hour. Alice tried to comfort me with a good Brad Pitt movie. Thelma and Louise was the best porn we had around at the time. I would always owe Brad for keeping my tears at bay.
As I got older, I noticed Paul more and more around the neighborhood, too. I always wanted to plant a big, fat kiss on his lips when he brought his little sister, Claire, around to help her sell Girl Scout cookies. That had to have been the sweetest thing on the planet. It certainly made me sweet on him, and it helped his sister reach her quota because I always bought cookies from her. I bought them because I always got a smile from Paul when I ordered my Thin Mints. I guess you could say I was buying a moment with his smile and his happiness. I never once had buyer's remorse because of it. I would do it again and again. Hell, I'd buy anything from Paul. Truth was, I'd do anything for him too, except let him get away with his trash talk. That was just ridiculous and arguing with him turned me on.
So here I was, a sophomore in the Phoenix Academy Marching Band, with Paul as my section leader. I had to obey him, there was no way out. And he knew it and abused it. Abused me, any time he got the chance.
Like I said, I hated him.
When early morning practice finished, I headed to the girls' locker room to change. I was sweaty and disgusting, and due to all of the extra "tens" we had to do it was too late to shower before symphonic band began. I pulled my shirt off and slung it over my shoulder when I heard the door bang open.
"Swan, get your ass out here and put your shit away." Paul. Who else?
"I will. Just a minute."
"I said, now!"
I didn't move. I ignored him and proceeded to change my shorts. I zipped up, threw my filthy shirt into my locker, then grabbed a fresh one.
"Swan, get out here."
"Paul, leave me alone."
"Leave you alone?"
I heard the door bang again, and suddenly there was a commotion in the room. Several girls squealed and covered themselves up, while others ran out into the hall to get away from Paul. He was in the locker room, and that made me pissed. I rounded on him, shorts still unbuttoned, with no shirt on. I stood in my black sports bra and glared at him.
"What the hell is your problem?"
"You are. You don't listen." He looked me over, and his eyes narrowed. He was encroaching on my space, and I was instinctively backing away. He continued forward pinning me to the lockers with his hips pressing against mine. He looked down into my face, and I looked right back up at him full of confidence. He couldn't scare me.
"You smell like shit, and I don't know why you even bother wearing a bra. We all know Leah's the only one with tits around here."
"She may be bigger than me, and I may smell like any other drummer, but the boner pressing against my stomach tells me you don't care about that."
Take that, asshole. Don't mess with Drummer Girl.
He pulled away from me so we were standing a few inches apart. "You're on cleanup."
There was no sense in arguing, so I didn't. I ignored him. That was as good of a response as he was getting from me today. I pulled my shirt over my head smoothing it over my bra.
He turned around and put a dent in a locker with his fist on the way out. What an asshole.
After symphonic band, everyone cleared out of the room and headed to their next class. I picked up random mallets and threw them in the direction of the closet meant for all things drumline. The Stink Tank, I called it. Teenage boys smelled. Bad. The room smelled like a combination of sweaty socks, body odor, a sour washcloth, duct tape, wood, and drums. Although, drums had the best smell. It was sort of erotic to me. I had an affair with drums.
I made my way to the Stink Tank and started chucking the sticks and mallets in when I heard Jacob's distinct yelp. "Damn, Drummer Girl. People are in here." I held my breath and drew my head around the corner seeing Jacob lying down on the filthy couch. That couch had somehow been crammed in the Stink Tank unbeknownst to the band director, Mr. Edward Masen. He would have had a conniption if he knew about it.
He didn't allow a lot of crap to slide. He was a finicky one and knew what he liked. And what he liked was white undershirts, khaki cargoes and running shoes. I was certain he had a closet full of these things that made getting ready for early morning band practice a breeze. I swear Mr. Masen was a band geek version of Batman. Bandman?
Just like any superhero, Mr. Masen had two identities: crazed marching band director in the early mornings, normal band teacher by midday. When he was the former he had a temper on him that rivaled Paul's, only he was violent as well, throwing many a drumstick in a rage because our basses sucked at marching. That pissed him off which, in turn, pissed off Paul. And when Paul was pissed we all paid but not just on the field. Paul had a knack for finding us in classrooms, in hallways, and in the cafeteria, and once he did we were doing "tens" in front of anyone who happened to be around. It was humiliating, and it sucked hard-core.
"Sorry," I said after a moment, waving at Jacob and wrinkling my nose once I had to inhale and the stench hit me.
Jacob called me over, and I sat on his lap, settling in. There was no way I was sitting on that couch. Who knew how many sweaty boy butts had been on it, not to mention how many make-outs which resulted in only God knows what ending up on that grungy material.
Jacob held me with one hand on my waist and pointed up with the other. "There's a new one."
"Yeah? What's this one say?"
"Houston, we have a problem. Bella Swan's boobs are too small."
I turned on Jacob and smiled right before my laughter took over. "It does not."
"It does. Look." He pointed again, and then started guffawing. We both lost it, and Jacob blurted out, "Paul came in here in a rage throwing things around. Nearly broke Seth's drum head. He was grumbling about your too-small tits, and then he left. I guess some of the boys needed to immortalize the sentiment. Probably Mike."
Yeah, probably Mike. Mike Newton was the worst player of us all and tended to clown around to hide his insecurities. It only made him look worse in my eyes.
"I'm so flattered. Who knew my boobs would be popular enough to get onto the drumline wall of fame under the cabinet? Wow. It was even written in Sharpie. That sucker's there to stay. I'm so cool."
"Of course you are, Bells." Jacob patted my hip, motioning for me to move. "All right, bony butt, we've got English. Let's go."
The day was boring. English with Jacob was the highlight of my day, until it wasn't. We were having fun and laughing while the teacher slipped out of the room to copy a quiz he forgot to Xerox before class. Quil Ateara, a bass player dying to be a snare drummer, pulled his drumsticks out of his back pocket and proceeded to double stroke on the desk in front of him. He was terrible; his double stroke was so dirty. Most bass drummers were bad, although not as bad as the cymbal players. I cringed once I heard his garbled rendition of a marching drumroll.
Jacob and I drowned him out by playing the newest cadence, only we didn't have our sticks, so we pounded out the rhythm on our chests like all drummers did. Our eyes were locked, and I began the game of speeding up the cadence by small increments to test him. I had hoped he would have made snare this year, but he hadn't. He was still on quints. In my opinion, the only reason Leah got placed as a snare was because she was a senior and Paul felt bad for her. Jacob outplayed her, but Paul would never admit it. So playing this game with Jacob was my way of improving his skills and sticking it to Paul.
"Suck it, Black." I laughed as I pounded hard on my chest with both hands just above my breasts. He couldn't keep up; I always won.
We finished, and the class clapped at our performance. As I stood and took a very manly bow, Jacob made a farting noise and laughter ensued. I jumped on his side and clawed at his head just to piss him off. The class was in an uproar, and then suddenly grew silent.
Paul was standing in the doorway gaping at us. Crap! His jaw tightened, and the muscle there flexed making me want to kill myself, or lick him. I preferred the first. It was more likely. Plus, it would be nice to have been put out of my misery.
"Who the hell was pounding out that muddy mess of a cadence?"
"I did. Sorry, Paul. I know you don't like us to play after practice on game night," said Quil.
"Shut up, Quil. Not you. I heard chest play."
All eyes turned to us. Jacob sat down in his seat like a coward and picked up his book to read.
I stared him down. "We were jamming. There's nothing you can do about it."
"Nothing I can do about it? You're my player."
"Not right now." I folded my arms over my chest and simply stared back. He looked so angry I thought he might rip off his shirt again or put another hole in the wall. I swear he had a tab running with the school for all the drywall he smashed up.
"Like hell you're not. Don't give me that shit. I could make you give me ten right here and now, and you know it."
"What do you want, Paul?" I asked, irritating him further.
"Play," he said, and he drew his sticks out of his back pocket and threw them at me. Both, at the same time. It proved to be a problem. I caught one and knew I'd have to see his satisfied smirk as I couldn't get to the second in time, but Jacob grabbed it for me and held it out. I snatched it out of his hand, and he mouthed, "Kill it."
I nodded, grabbed a chair, and straddled it to face the desk. Paul held out his hand, and Quil scrambled to get to him and handed over his sticks.
Paul stood across from me and began to tap on the flat surface. He played his all purpose start up, and I came in as expected with eights. I smirked at him because I knew he'd play eights. He was so predictable. He sped it up as we played, and I held my own right along with him. Once we were at top speed I found myself standing, hovering over the desk in deep concentration trying not to tap out by hitting my sticks together. That move made you as green as a fifth grader playing with a pair of Two-B's. That wasn't me. I had moved on; I was playing with Paul's marching sticks. And I was showing him up.
We got to the end of our set, and my sticks came in close to my chest, gripped between both hands ready for the next set. "Paradiddles," he called and began that familiar tap again.
He started slow, for which I was grateful. He knew this was my weakness. Paradiddles were hard for me, and I couldn't figure out why. It didn't help that they made me laugh because Jacob and I always sang out the rhythm when we practiced. "Par-a-did-dle. Par-a-did-dle. Right, left, right, right. Left, right, left, left." Those two lefts always got me once I got to a certain speed. It was my Achilles's heel and it sucked.
I started to sweat as I got more nervous. I was not going to win this drum off, and I knew it. He was better than me; he would always be better than me. I was trying not to give up and bow out when the door opened. Mr. Berty walked in, looking puzzled. We didn't stop though. I knew if I did, I'd never hear the end of it from Paul.
"Last set," he called. And we finished, both resting our sticks in closed position near our chests. "Getting better, Swan. Too bad you're a girl."
He pocketed Quil's sticks and turned around to walk out but stopped at the door. "Quil, get a new set for tonight, or you'll be playing with pencils. I don't ever want to see that again." Quil didn't speak, he only nodded in fright. Paul turned his gaze on me and then dropped it to the sticks in my hand. I started to make my way to him, but he held up his hand to stop me. "They're yours; you earned them."
The door closed behind him, and Mr. Berty gaped up at me. He threw his hands up in the air as if to say 'What?' but no one responded. I simply pocketed my new sticks, Paul's sticks, and sat down.
The rest of the day was boring as usual. Math, Chemistry, French, PE, and then I was done. I went home for a few hours to get ready for the night. I showered and pressed my band uniform while in my towel. I got dressed quickly in a tank and boxers while my mother cooked a quick dinner for me. My mom drove, and I ate in the car on the way to get Jacob. Call time wasn't until 6:00 pm, but if you got there later than Paul, whenever he showed up, you were as good as dead, as were your arms from all the "tens" he would give you. He was such a hard ass. And he had such a hard ass too.
My freshman year of high school I realized that Paul played sports, baseball to be exact. I just happened to play softball. We ended up riding on the same busses, sitting on the same stands, and walking around each other in our uniforms. It had been torture. Paul in a pair of baseball pants nearly killed me. I wanted to reach out and grab his butt and then smack him silly for being such a jerk. Someone so beautiful should not be such an asshole.
One afternoon during that season, I was halfway decked out in the band building with Jacob, waiting until it was time to go. I only wore my softball jersey, a pair of plaid boxers and my team-issued knee socks. We were laughing about one of Embry and Quil's latest schemes to T.P. Mr. Masen's house when Paul stepped out of the boys' locker room. We both ignored him, trying to stay out of trouble. We were both new to the drumline and were just trying to play it safe back then.
Paul grabbed his sports' bag and walked down the hall toward us. I could hear his cleats clicking on the linoleum as he walked. He stopped directly in front of me and opened his rude mouth. "You gonna suck as hard as you did last week? I heard a pop fly hit you in the face, and by the looks of the green under your eye I'm guessing it's true. Either that or you think green eye shadow is a new trend. Which it isn't."
I squinted and frowned but said nothing. I got up to get a drink from the water fountain and heard Jacob and Paul mumbling.
When I made it back to Jacob, Paul was gone. Jacob swore to me that Paul had gaped at my calves like a dog in heat and then told him that it was too bad I had such nice legs. According to him, it was a waste. I was never quite sure what to make of that, but Jacob had no reason to lie to me. It was confusing, just like Paul. Paul and his hard ass and hard assed ways were all sorts of confusing.
Jacob crammed himself into my mom's tiny Civic, and I handed my leftovers to him. He never turned down the opportunity to clean off my plate.
We got there and did not see Paul's car, so we felt we were safe. Little did we know.
As we rounded the corner we heard warm ups. It sounded like lots of the drumline guys were there already. Once we saw the semi-circle of players and realized Paul's shirt was already off, we looked at each other and ran towards the double doors of the band room. We threw ourselves into the Stink Tank to suit up and get our gear. We didn't even bother to go to our respective locker rooms, but simply dropped trou next to each other, stepping into our crisp white uniform pants. We hung our coats and shelved our hats. Jacob grabbed his small quint mallets, I grabbed my sticks, we strapped on and headed out to the quad to join the rest of the drumline.
As I found my place next to Leah I wrapped my head tightly with my bandana. Paul had insisted we all wear them because they intimated other drumlines. It made us look badass, apparently. I just felt like a pirate version of Aunt Jemima. As I finished my knot Paul started spouting off right away.
"'Bout time. You two done gettin' it on in the drum closet?"
Neither one of us said anything. It was no use, and no one believed him anyway. Everyone knew that Jacob and I had been best friends since we were five. Any romance between us would have been very Flowers in the Attic. No thanks. I did not need to kiss my brother. We took our positions with our appropriate sections, and Paul barked at us.
"Eights. I need a drink and a piss. Swan, warm 'em up. You seem good at that."
"Eights," I called in my I'm-going-to-be-section-leader-next-year-so-don't-mess-with-me voice. I tapped our start up, and everyone played in sync.
Paul was gone a long time. I ended up doing warm ups, running the show all the way through, and practiced cadences in his absence.
Once we got to cadences I was more lax and joking around with the guys and Leah. She was in good form tonight and playing well. The two of us were giggling like girls, because we were girls, when Paul rounded the corner. "What the hell is this? I leave for a piss break, and you take it as a time to mess the hell around? Everyone . . ."
"Paul, we ran the whole show, we were just . . . if you have to blame someone, blame me."
I couldn't let him get away with it. I had been in charge; these were my drummers now, and he would not attack them.
"What did you did just say to me?"
"Give me ten, Swan," I said to myself in my I-hate-you-Paul tone and dropped my snare. I planted my hands and feet on the ground and began to pump myself up and down. I was so tired of push-ups.
"Fifty," he growled, and I obeyed.
The hour or so before show time went off without a hitch. I had taken one for the team, so everyone was on their best behavior.
Paul was in a good mood, too. Alice and Rosalie had showed up to support me and sat really close to the reserved-for-band section. They talked and laughed with Paul in between sets and spontaneous fight songs which we played when our team scored a touch down. He looked happy. And when he looked happy, I got sloppy. His dark eyes sparkled when he smiled, and I found myself watching him and not paying attention. I nearly knocked over a cymbal stand while trying to get a peek at his devilish grin. He twisted around quickly and gave me the stink eye. Crap. I was so going to pay for that regardless of the fact that the cymbal never touched the ground.
I sat quickly, and Jacob plopped down beside me. "When are you going to admit you're attracted to him?"
"I admit it all the time. He's attractive. Every girl here thinks this. You know I think this. He knows I think this."
"That's not what I said. I said attracted – as in more than just looks, as in he makes you all sweaty and girly even when he yells at you."
I suddenly found the massive zipper on my band uniform fascinating and stared at it. He bumped me with his shoulder and just laughed. "All right, I'll leave it alone. But you know, I think he does, too."
"He does too, what?"
Jacob opened his mouth to speak, but the crowd went wild cheering, and I couldn't hear a word he was saying. The drum major called out "Fight song," and we were all on our feet playing, including Paul. I watched him the whole time while contemplating Jacob's words. He didn't pay one lick of attention to me.
Shortly after that, the whole band was warming up on the practice field. The brass and woodwinds were in a group with Mr. Masen, playing the show softly. The color guard was with their instructor Emmett McCarty, an ex-Blue Devil. And we were with our instructor James Scott, a hot ASU student who got paid beans to help us out. He was hilarious and a good teacher, too. We didn't see him much except for game days and competitions, so it really was Paul's drumline more than his, but we all enjoyed the tiny break he gave us from Paul's incessant need for perfection.
Just before the show Paul started with his "I'm gonna pump you up" speech, complete with Arnold Schwarzenegger accent. It always made us laugh. He really was inspiring when he wasn't being an asshole. Okay, and he was funny, too. Really funny. The man could do a Chris Farley impersonation like nobody's business. You couldn't not laugh when he got to his punch line about living in van down by the river. It was hysterical.
Following his speech, we all prayed in a tight circle, hands held together. It was rather sweet, and the fact that Paul believed in God and probably hugged and kissed his mother made me swoon just a little bit. Don't ask me why hugging and kissing his mother piggybacked believing in deity; it just did in my brain.
After the prayer came the violence. I didn't know why, but the two went hand in hand.
When I was a freshman the guys were tentative when pushing me around. They didn't really want to hurt me, so I got some love pats, a snap to my bra strap, and a few swats on my butt. But that was it, and it made me feel lonely and unloved. I wanted to be a part of the group. So one day I did it. I started attacking drumline members. Jacob was my first because he was the easiest. I ran at him full tilt and rammed into his shoulder seeing if I could knock him down. He didn't budge, but he did get a nice bruise on his bicep. I was pleased with myself.
Shortly after that, I convinced the guys to start hitting me. I know it sounds strange, but it was a way of bonding. I got the guys feeling comfortable by having them watch Jacob hit me repeatedly in the stomach while I flexed and shouted "Again! Again!", each time expecting a harder blow. Paul refused to do it. "Something about hitting girls is wrong," he said. Screw wrong. I walked over to him and punched him in the gut without preamble, and he nearly doubled over. I lifted my shirt and tucked it under my bra showing him my abs. I had abs too, a rather nice four pack, if I did say so myself. I had to call him every name in the book before he finally took a swing, and then he grinned like an idiot. Like he had really liked it. Or maybe he just liked what he had seen. What guy didn't like looking at girly flesh, even if it had just been a stomach?
Now it was just habit. I jumped on a few guys backs and pounded on them, and then they pounded on my stomach. Worked for us; got our adrenaline going, and then we could kick ass on the field and leave it all there.
Tonight's show started out strong. I popped my toes and stayed in step. I was always behind or beside Paul as we created formations along the football field with the one hundred and eighty plus other band members. At one point Seth got off count and in his concentration knocked into Leah. Her drumstick went flying and she couldn't retrieve it. She panicked and stopped mid-step. I pulled out Paul's green set and handed them over to her without missing a beat, literally. She smiled, kept marching, and continued playing her snare.
We marched off of the field in silence waiting to round up with everyone else for our report from Mr. Masen. As I huddled in with Jacob to hear what the band director had to say I was suddenly yanked away by my elbow.
What the hell?
I pulled my arm away hard and realized it was Paul. He turned and walked away from me under the bleachers and into the shadows. I was meant to follow, but everything in me told me not to. But I did it anyway. I always did. I always followed, and I always obeyed. Because I had to. Because Paul was an asshole. And because I wanted him. Dammit!
"What the hell do you think you were doing out there? Why would you even think to give Leah my sticks? My sticks, Swan?"
"I was thinking she's like a freaking deer in head lights, and there's going to be a train wreck if I don't do something!" I yelled and flailed my arms around wildly. I had to, because if I didn't have something to do with hands they would fly into his gorgeous face, smacking him hard. "And they're not your sticks anymore. I earned them. You gave them to me. They're mine."
"I know I gave them to you. Do you know how many girls I've . . . You're my second. I don't just hand out sticks. That was meant to be . . ." He was shaking from head to toe. I had never seen him this angry before. What was his problem? A drumstick was a drumstick. I wanted to yell back at him, but I couldn't. I just couldn't believe that this was what I was being chastised for. It's not like I handed over his letterman's jacket.
Oh my God.
His drumsticks. He gave me his drumsticks. His drumsticks were his letterman's jacket. They were as good as, hell, better even, and I squandered them away on Leah – a second-rate snare drum player who never should have made it there to begin with. But that was his fault, not mine. I wouldn't take the blame.
"They're my sticks, and I'll share them with whomever I want."
"I gave them to you! Maybe if James had followed through on that initiation threat you wouldn't be such a pain in my ass now. You're always PMSing or something."
"Yeah, rape would really help our relationship, Paul." Sarcasm. It was a widely known fact that when one was chosen to be a part of the drumline they were initiated once they were placed. This initiation was done by being jumped sometime during the summer between your eighth grade year and freshman year. Jacob was jumped two weeks before school started and was still limping on his first day of high school.
I had been a nervous wreck, but Jacob had assured me that girls didn't get jumped in. Instead, he told me that many of the guys had joked about raping me in as they patted his back and helped him clean up his bloody lip. Nice, huh?
I did not find that funny at all. I knew it wasn't serious, and no one would ever do it, but it never set right with me. It infuriated me. Rape was not funny.
The fact that he brought it up now only enraged me more. "You know I could have you expelled for that. Threatening a teenage girl with rape when you're eighteen is probably worthy of some prison time. You're disgusting."
Paul had the decency to look ashamed of himself. He even looked a bit repentant and remorseful, if I read him correctly. "I never actually said it. James did. He thinks it's hysterical.
"Go back. Get everyone set for the rest of the night. I need a break."
"Fine," I said and turned on my heel without another word.
I didn't see much of Paul the rest of the night, although oddly enough he played his snare right next to me. He wouldn't look at me, and I didn't really care. He was being a complete asshole tonight, as usual.
The game ended, and everyone was hanging around the band room gathering their things and putting their instruments away. I followed my friend, Angela, into the instrument locker room. She needed to lock up her clarinet.
I was really tired and decided to just wear my uniform pants and a clean tank after showering. I combed my wet hair back and put a clean bandana over it. I think I had about fifty of those suckers. It kept the hair out of my face, though this time its fold was a bit more feminine and allowed my hair to flow out down my back.
I wasn't going anywhere, so why should I look cute or dirty a new set of clothes? Didn't make sense to me, so I stood there in my personal post-game pseudo-uniform waiting for Angela. She was going to give me and Jacob a ride home tonight since my mom was working a late shift at the hospital and my dad was still at work himself. She handed me her Sprite so she could open her combination lock. Just then I heard Paul laughing with Jared, another quint player. They walked into the instrument locker room, and Paul caught my eyes.
"You're drinking in uniform? That's . . . how many times are you gonna piss me off tonight?"
Paul. I could ask him the same thing.
"At least once more," I said and took a swig of Angela's Sprite right before his eyes.
"Get out! Everyone out!" Paul swung his arms out wide as he shouted "Out!" on a loop until the room was cleared. He slammed the door after the last freshman piccolo player scurried around him.
"Drink?" I asked holding my soda out in invitation.
"You're such a bitch!"
"You're such an asshole!"
He lunged toward me as if he was going to tackle me, and I evaded him by pressing myself up against one of the caged lockers. I didn't even spill the Sprite. I was light on my feet. Years of softball had done that for me.
I set the soda down on the ground beside me and stood back up, looking him over. He had already showered and changed into a pair of ratty jeans and a wife beater to match my own.
"We really going to do this, Paul?"
He bit his bottom lip and then said, "Oh yeah."
He came at me, and I threw myself up against him. I pinned him to the caged locker behind him, my forearm over his throat. My dad was a cop; there was no way I was going to let Paul take me down.
He grabbed my other arm and pinned it behind my back, yanking it and forcing my forearm to drop a little. He pulled me into him then, trapping my forearm between our bodies.
He ripped the bandana off of my head, and my hair came crashing around my face. "I hate this shit."
"I hate you." My eyes were tight, and I was fighting back tears. I didn't want him to win. He couldn't win. Not like this.
"I hate you, too." And then his lips were on mine. He opened his mouth to mine and released my arm immediately so he could wrap both of his around me to pull me tighter to his chest. I didn't think. I couldn't think. I was completely inundated with Paul. Paul's hands. Paul's hips. Paul's lips. Paul. Paul. Paul.
I kissed him back throwing years of agony and unresolved sexual tension into it. It felt so good to release it this way. Finally I was getting what I wanted.
He turned us around quickly until my back was against the lockers instead of his. Our lips miraculously stayed hooked together through the whole maneuvering process. He was good at this. Dammit!
Our hands roamed each other's bodies roughly, tugging and grabbing and blatantly groping one another. His hand was on my breast massaging me as his tongue entered my mouth and did the same thing.
My body was coiled tight, like the head of a snare drum. If he tapped me once in the wrong way I would burst, spilling years of emotion onto him. But I held fast until he started sucking on my tongue.
I thought it couldn't get any worse, meaning hella better, but then he clasped my hands in his and pulled them up above my head silently urging me to grab onto the bars of the locker behind me. Once I had a good grip, his hands roamed the lower terrain of my body. He stroked down my thigh and yanked my leg up by the knee wrapping it around his hip. I was on fire and completely submitted myself to him for once. I embraced it all: the position of our bodies, the kiss, the passion, the Paul.
He slowed us down by stroking my arm softly. He threaded his hand into my hair and grabbed handfuls of it as though he was in pain and holding onto it was the soothing balm he needed to make it subside.
He kissed me softly, stroking his tongue along my lips. My eyes fluttered, and I stared up into his. He looked pensive, satisfied, and terrified all at the same time.
"Bella, I . . . the sticks were for you. They were meant for you and you alone."
"I don't want this to be . . . I'm still your section leader."
"You can't act like . . . you still have to give me ten and play well, and I can't play favorites."
"I don't expect you to."
"God, Bella . . ." He tugged my hair tighter at the base of my neck and dropped his forehead onto mine. He moved it slightly, and then dragged his nose over my cheek and gave me a soft kiss at the corner of my mouth.
"Give me ten." He looked up into my eyes, his were wide with surprise. I leaned up and kissed his mouth softly once. "That's one."
I smiled at him. He grinned like the devil and then kissed me – the second of my ten kisses for the night, but hopefully only the first set of many.
Author's End Note: A special thanks goes to MeraNaamJoker for getting me to like Paul, inspiring this piece and then beta-ing my story. You're amazing. Thank you!
Thank you to Missus Robinson, JJBlackFFR and LuvinJ for prereading.
Once the Passionate About Paul contest is over I will be posting a small second chapter. It's a bit of silliness, really. I wanted a strong ending for the one shot and the addition, though I loved it, would have thrown it a bit. But I can't let it go just like I couldn't let go my line about Bandman even though prereaders and my beta suggested I cut it. I just couldn't. I'm a terrible writer that way. Oh well. So put me on alerts to get another tiny little taste of this world. Thanks for reading and reviewing! Make sure you vote (starting March 3) for your favorite story at http:/www . fanfiction . net/~passionateaboutpaulcontest.