A.N. Let me start by thanking anyone who's stayed with this story and apologizing for taking so incredibly long to update. I just seemed to lose my inspiration for this story. But I'm trying to come back, I love this story and want it to go far. I want to clarify something that was mentioned in a review left, Marie is NOT a Malachi, that would be a terrible and cliché idea. She is special though, and it will all come out in due time, just like Nicky's talents did. I'd also like to apologize for all the mistakes in the last chapter, I pride myself in my work and this piece so far hasn't lived up to my expectations, I will be more thorough from now on.

"Yo, ho!" Stone greeted, sneering down at her. His hand brushed invisible dirt from his shirt. Mar scowled, this jerk had gotten her brother suspended and now he had to come after her? Totally not cool.

"What's wrong, Jock Rock, still upset over this morning?" she taunted, feeling the need to put the animal in his place, if she was gonna get chewed out because he couldn't leave her brother alone, she was going to go out fighting enough for the pair of them.

And he still deserved a little more pain for that comment about her mom.

"If it's any conciliation, I think the purple of that bruise really brings out your eyes." The smile on her face could only be described as condescending as she flashed her white teeth and apparently he understood that, because a moment later two of his goons had her arms in their beefy paws, holding her as she kicked and writhed, laughing as they dragged her back inside the school. "What's wrong Stony," Marie baited, after the goons had stopped transporting her, "afraid of little ol' me?" Her accent was thicker now, some of her moxie gone and replaced by the beginnings of fear. Stone was in her face before she could blink, growling unnaturally. She wrinkled her nose as his overly minty smelling breath overwhelmed her. She tried to control her mouth. Really, she did. But somewhere in the depths of her mind, while attempting to reign in her words, she knocked into the talking autopilot lever of her brain and coughed, "Tic-tac, Stony?"

His fist came before she could register it. Striking into her stomach and wrenching a shriek of pain from Marie. Bile rose in her throat, where were the teachers? The principal? Surely someone would come and stop this. But as Stone's second and third punches landed, the crowd and Stone's buddies laughing and cheering and chanting, Mar knew she was alone. Loneliness was a strange feeling. It made her feel empty, like she wasn't even in her body anymore. Like she was watching from the crowd as Stone hit her again and again. She couldn't even feel the pain anymore, a haze started forming over her brain…

Oh. That wasn't loneliness; that was…She was having an attack. The overwhelming pain and exertion and fear had triggered her sickness. She needed her meds, but with Stone's flunkies holding her and Stone beating on her, she couldn't get them. Another punch to her gut and her knees buckled, darkness started ebbing into her vision. She let out a cry of distress, hoping someone in the crowd would realize that she was in actual danger.

No one did.

It's funny how people will ignore horrific acts happening in front of them, if only because they fear the same happening to them. Like, if they pretend it's not there, it'll go away or if they side with the person on top, they can avoid being the next victim. Marie vaguely remembered a story in the newspaper a few years ago-the anniversary of something that had happened way before Marie was born-that her mother had been interested in.

A girl, Kitty something or other, had been beaten to death in an alley in some big city. There were lots of witnesses and everything, but no one stepped forward because they were all afraid of the mobsters or whoever had killed the girl, coming after them. Marie wondered if this was what Kitty had felt before she died. The linoleum floor of the hall was cold on Mar's knees and her arms were tingling as blood began to flow more steadily without The Goons holding them.

"Alright," Mar gritted out, hating every fiber of herself for even uttering the words, but knowing no other way to stop the torture. "I give." Her words were slurred, her voice weak. Everything was spinning and blurring around her. Stone's laugh was distorted and he said something, but the fog in her brain didn't allow his words to process. She tried to reach for the vile of medicine in her back pocket, but as soon as she moved her arm, her body swayed and she felt like she would be sick. Both hands were planted on the ground in front of her, keeping her stable as the world spun faster. Stone's foot flung out, Mar's eyes fluttered shut in an attempt to block the pain…but it never came. One blurred eye cracked open, looking up at the back of her knight in preppy clothes.

Tad had grabbed Stone's foot, throwing him off balance and forcing the jock to fall flat on his butt with a hard thud.

"Leave, Stone, now!" Mar couldn't hear much, her ears felt like they were filled with cotton, making everything muffled. The blurry Stone ran off with-what Mar could only assume was a wannabe witty retort-she tried to blink some clarity back into her eyes as Tad knelt down in front of her, but coughs racked her body and her eyes shut instead. She could feel her heart beat slow dramatically, the tightness in her chest becoming painful. At this rate she would pass out and now one would be able to help her. And then…she didn't like thinking about that.

Her eyes opened again, when the coughing abated, and she realized Tad's lips were moving. He'd shifted her so that her body was half way propped on his, but so he could still see her face, and it looked like he was saying her name. Marie frowned, shaking her head-or at least she thought she shook her head. She could have imagined it. His mouth formed more words; she caught Brynna's name and hospital. She forced her body to move this time, fighting the lethargic feeling with everything she had.

"No," she wheezed followed by another coughing fit. Her hazy brain registered that this fit wasn't going to recede quick enough, so she tried another way. Her hand, shaking violently, grasped Tad's with the strength of a wet dish rag, and slid it awkwardly to her back pocket. She could feel, rather than hear, the laugh as he made an attempted joke. Something about not resisting his touch, even though she was dying. Through the coughing she let out a choked laugh. She could taste tears on the corner of her mouth now, from coughing so hard. "Meds," she managed, pressing his fingers against the slight bulge in her pocket. She tried not to feel his hand slipping into jeans and pulling out the vial.

"This?" she nodded, he put it in her hand, holding her fingers closed with his, and supported her weight as she clicked it open and inhaled the mixture. After a few deep breathes, Mar pulled her hand down, Tad took the hint, letting go of her hand enough to take the vile, close it and hand it off to someone. He situated himself against the lockers, letting her full weight slump on him.

"You don't have to stay," Mar murmured, but she didn't try to move. Tad chuckled, rubbing her arms where Stone's guys had held her. He was really warm. The medicine was kicking in, the fog clearing from her brain.

"What was that stuff?" Tad asked.

"Voodoo," came her answer, simple, as if she were telling him it was sunny outside. Tad didn't argue. "Did you know my brother got suspended?" Tad nodded. Marie's head lolled on his shoulder, a groan coming out.

"Feeling better?"

"Do I have to get up if I do?" It felt so good to just lay back. She always felt tired after an attack and Tad was so very warm.

"I knew you'd eventually succumb to my charms." She heard that cocky smile in his voice; that alone was enough to make her stand, no matter how much her body protested.

The hallway was pretty much deserted, her bag on the floor in front of her locker and Tad's, a few scraps of paper and some trash, being the only things left behind from the mob that was school.

"Where are my-"

"Front pocket. Bry put it there before she shooed the crowd. You were really out of it, huh?" Mar nodded, going over to her backpack to pick it up. Tad stood behind her, grabbing the strap from her and slinging it over his shoulder. "How are you getting home?" Marie gave him an annoyed scowl, reaching for the bag that Tad kept just out of reach.

"Walking, like I usually do." Tad gave a bark of laughter, heading for the entrance of the school. "Where are you going?" She called, he ignored her. When he didn't stop, Marie chased him down, following at his side. "What are you doing?" she growled, reaching for her bag again. Tad shifted it to his other shoulder, smiling at her.

"I'm carrying your bag and I intend to drive you home…or to my house if you'd prefer."

"You don't have to do that," Marie dismissed indignantly. Tad must have noticed that he'd offended her and backtracked tactfully.

"It would make me feel better." They approached his black escalade and Tad gave her a lopsided grin, holding the door open for her. "Besides, I saw that D in Chem. I, however, got an A and am offering my genius and precious time to tutor you." Marie looked at him, then the leather interior of the car.

"Fine, oh great science nerd, help me into this tank you call a car." Tad held out his arm, helping her climb into the passenger seat.