Overview: What would have happened if Wen hadn't been so anti-confrontational when Ray was bothering Olivia in the cafeteria that day?
Disclaimer: I do not own Lemonade Mouth, nor do I have any rights to the characters herein.
Note: This will be a multi-chapter story, eventual Wenlivia. I'm only posting it on this account until my new account clears. So if you see it posted under the account name LessListless (and only LessListless, exactly as I've typed it), don't flame for stealing; that's me over there.
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Olivia White was good at being invisible. Being of average height, figure, hair color and eye color, it was all too easy for her to blend in with a crowd, making sure that peoples' eyes skimmed over her guarded frame and never gave her a second thought. When she was young - barely old enough to fully grasp that her mother was gone and her father was imprisoned and, no, living with Gram was not just temporary - she had made a game out of it. "How many times can I make people forget I exist today?" She began to adopt new tricks for it. While other girls her age opted to wear their hair in stylish braids and ponytails, she left hers loose to fall in her face like a curtain, physically separating her from her peers. She stayed in the library, reading books far beyond her age bracket while the other kids chased each other around in circles at recess. She dressed in layers, using each piece of clothing like a shield that would protect her from the rest of the world. She even went so far as faking stomach aches so she could eat her lunch in the nurse's office, instead of forced into a seat between kids that she had no interest in knowing. She was very good at being nobody.
Most people would find this way of living lonely, and depressing. Olivia, on the other hand, didn't mind it. Some days she even enjoyed it. Sure, she got lonely. Sometimes she wished she had a friend that she could have silly, clichéd sleepovers with, or a boyfriend that she could hand-feed potato chips to on the school's front lawn during lunch, but she knew that those relationships were no good for her in the long run. Her mother left her. Her father left her. Whose to say that any other person she let into her life wouldn't just one day decide to be gone, leaving her emotionally invested and devastated without them around.
Needless to say, joining the Mesa High underdog band had gone against her better judgment. Now she was starting to form relationships with these people; they were her - dare she say it - friends, and because of them, she was a lot less invisible than what she had grown to be so comfortable with. Not only did they see her (and for who she truly was, no less), but other people were starting to take notice as well. People whose radar she'd never wanted to be on. People like Ray Beech, Jules Carter, and Patty Hazel.
All she wanted was something to drink. Turbo Blast wasn't her ideal beverage, but the cafeteria had a bad habit of serving spoiled milk, her water bottle had mysteriously disappeared from her bag on the way to school that morning, and she didn't think she could get to the basement and back for her true desire - some delicious Mel's Lemonade - before the bell rang. So in went her dollar and out came a one-liter bottle of "Caribbean Cruise." Seriously, that was what it was called? What flavor was that, she wondered. As it happened, she didn't get the chance to find out.
"Thanks," a sugary-sweet voice said tauntingly, a perfectly manicured hand reaching out to take the bottle before Olivia could even uncap it. She turned to see Jules waving the bottle in front of her face, "My favorite." Patty and Ray stood on either side of her, and Olivia could tell - by the matching wicked gleams in their eyes and the angle of their bodies - that she was absolutely, most definitely not invisible right now.
Olivia started to reach for the bottle but decided against it - Turbo Blast wasn't worth any kind of battle - and flattened her arms back against her sides. She hoped they would leave it at that, but Ray stepped forward with his trademark faux-sincere expression and asked, "Hey, you're the lead singer of that new band, right?"
Am I? Olivia wondered to herself, her brain going a little fuzzy as panic began to take over. Yes, she remembered. She had somehow been roped into agreeing to front a band that was spearheaded by Stella, the new girl that was determined to push peoples' buttons - the exact opposite of Olivia. Why had she agreed? She had to have known it would only bring her trouble. "Yeah," she said faintly, without realizing she'd spoken at all.
"Oh," Ray waved his hands challengingly, "Then why don't you just belt one out for us?"
A few feet away, gathered around a table, Wen looked up and saw the scene unfolding in front of the drink machines. He nodded to Mo and Charlie, gesturing to their friend, and they both stood and started to follow him over. As they drew closer, they could see Olivia squirming, her face painted with her wish to be anyone else, anywhere else. Or better yet, no one, nowhere.
Patty reached out, capturing a tendril of the wavy blonde hair that had once acted as an effective curtain and inspecting it like it was something dirty; something wrong. "Show us what you got," she said, adding to Ray's challenge with a daring little smirk.
"Could you just," Olivia raised her shoulder, brushing Patty off, "Leave me alone?"
Sensing a tension so heavy that it was tangible, Mo crossed her arms and stepped forward from Wen and Charlie, voice level and unafraid, "What's going on?"
Jules eagerly stepped up to address her; it was no secret that she had a grudge against Mo for winning Scott's affections. "We're just making small-talk," she said innocently, voice like saccharine.
When Ray turned to Olivia, presumably to say something more, Wen finally voiced himself. "Ray, c'mon bro, just leave her alone."
That was all it took. Ray shifted course, swiveling instead to face Wen with a cocky smirk firmly on his face. "Are you gonna make me?" His eyes danced, like this was the most amusing idea in the world; Wendell Gifford taking on Raymond Beech. It was even more amusing when Wen looked away, licking his lips the way he did when he wasn't sure how to handle a situation.
Ray took a step forward and Mo moved to block his path. "You're being a creep, Ray," she informed him, arms crossed over her chest. He just scoffed, not even bothering to reply, and reached out to move her aside. Then he took one more step until he was almost chest-to-chest with Wen, staring him down, "So if you're not going to make me, who's going to make me?"
Wen said nothing, standing stock still until the jock laughed in his face, turning back around and starting for Olivia. The keyboardist glanced between Mo and Charlie, and he could tell that they were both striving to think of a solution for the current situation as well. One of them could get a teacher, but that would take too long. They could grab Olivia and run, but she didn't look like she could take a single step without crumbling right now. Wen was running through a mental list of ideas when Ray swooped down on Olivia again.
"Now, like I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted," there was an edge to Ray's voice now - a subtle threat to it, "Let's hear those pipes, loser." Like Patty had done moments before, he reached out and grabbed a tendril of her blonde hair, giving it a little tug.
Suddenly, the mental list disappeared and Wen was moving forward without thinking. He had no plan, no endgame, no logic. He just knew that this guy - who was about a foot shorter than him, he couldn't help but notice - was bothering his friend. He knew that there were tears in Olivia's eyes. He knew…nothing. Nothing mattered, and nothing made sense. He just needed to get her away from them.
Which in some way justified the way he reached out and clipped Ray, knuckles connecting with his shoulder blade. Wen may not have been an athlete, but between caring for his horse and lifting weights with Charlie in the school gym, he wasn't as weak as Ray obviously thought he was. This was made apparent when the jock spun around, hand flying up to hold his injured shoulder and eyes going wide with shock and anger. He bounced back quickly, though, shooting out both arms to shove Wen, hands hitting him hard on the chest and sending him stumbling backward. He caught himself before he fell and he and Ray charged at each other before both being intercepted by two sets of arms.
"Hey, cool it," Charlie told his bandmate, pushing on his shoulders to hold him back. Wen struggled against him, vision blurred with red and focused only on Ray.
"Seriously," Mo chimed in, holding onto his arm so hard that her nails were cutting into his skin. "Wen, he's a star soccer player and one of Brenigan's golden boys. It's not him that's going to get suspended for fighting."
Charlie nodded, "Then there's no Halloween Bash, no Rising Star- -"
"No Cher," Mo laughed lightly, trying to lighten Wen's mood. It worked. The keyboardist stopped struggling, jabbing his tongue against the inside of his cheek and breathing deeply. His hands were still shaking and he wasn't sure he could put a polite sentence together to save his life, but at least he had stopped.
Across from them, Jules and Patty had a similar hold on Ray, though they seemed to be having a harder time keeping him back. "Ray, you really need to think about this," Patty said, high-pitched and panicked.
"Yeah," Jules agreed, "Best case scenario, you get hurt. Worst case scenario, you get suspended. Either way, you're not playing in the rivalry game this week-end." Ray seemed to consider this for a moment before finally stilling and shaking the girls off.
"Fine, whatever." He tossed a look over his shoulder to Olivia, "We'll talk another time, loser." She visibly gulped and he laughed at this, turning on his heel and starting off in the opposite direction, girls close at his sides. It took everything Wen had to keep from following, but the sight of a shivering Olivia kept him grounded and he moved toward her. Before he could get there, however, Ray seemed to find a second wind. "Oh, but before I forget," he said loudly, catching all parties involved by surprise. He didn't say anything else. He just swung around - too quick to quantify - and landed a harsh sucker punch against Wen's left cheek, sending the taller boy tumbling backward.
"Wen!" Olivia snapped out of her shaken state and instinctively put her arms out to brace Wen's shoulders from behind. Unfortunately he was bigger than she was and they both went sinking to the ground, Olivia in a somewhat dignified sitting position and Wen's torso against hers, limbs splayed out all around him. Ray smiled victoriously and allowed himself to be dragged away by Jules and Patty, leaving the band behind like they were nothing. And to him, they were.
"Ah," Wen hissed, putting his hand to his cheek where a generous patch of flesh was already purpling, "Oh, that hurt way worse than I thought it would." He looked up at Olivia, left eye halfway closed from the pressure of the bruise, but the other wide open and full of concern, "Are you okay?"
"Me?" She might have laughed, under different circumstances. But there was nothing funny about your secret, unrequited crush taking a full-force strike from the captain of the soccer team for you. "Are you okay?"
He shrugged, wincing as he dragged his fingers over the injury, "I'll live." He kept his eyes firmly on her, searching her expression to try and get a read on how she was feeling. She wondered if "visible" was an emotion. She wondered a lot of things, and the conflict translated clearly on her face.
She felt numb. She doubted whether she could move her arms and legs, or if she could say another word. She was abruptly overwhelmed with the full weight of her current lifestyle, and how it was tearing apart the habits she'd spent years perfecting. "Olivia?" Mo reached for her while Charlie helped Wen to his feet, "Seriously, are you okay?"
The singer swallowed roughly and looked up, blinking, not really comprehending her surroundings. "Um," her voice came out as a whisper, and even she could hear the unshed tears in her words. "I don't know."