It's two in the morning.

And she's glad.

Because for once, she doesn't have to walk down the street with a fake smile plastered on her face.

For once, she can walk along the sidewalk with tears flowing from her eyes and make up smearing all over her face.

Because no one is around.

And no one can see her fall apart.

The town whore. It's what she's been called since she was seventeen years old.

And she's never cared.

She's been positive that the only reason they've called her a slut is because of how she dresses.

But she dresses that way for a reason.

Because she doesn't want to be another Mary Margaret, or another Regina.

She wants to be herself.

And that's who she is. A girl who wears short pants and tops that show off her midriff.

Hell, if you've got it, flaunt it.

And she knows she's got it.

Storybrooke has always been a good town. Sure, people call her a slut, but no one ever mistreats her for it. No one ever hurts her because of it.

So she never, in her entire life, expected to be treated this way by someone from THIS town.

She never expected someone to grab her and kiss her and force their self on her.

She's lucky she escaped. She's lucky she can run. She's lucky her aim at his leg had actually hit a softer spot.

She takes a deep breath and tries to calm herself down.

If Granny finds out what happened, she'll either flog Dr. Whale, or kill him.

Or maybe she'll say she deserved it.

Maybe she'll say she asked for it.

After all, she's been asking her not to dress like this for years.

But Ruby, being Ruby, refused to listen to her.

Her nose starts running, but she's beyond caring what she looks like.

She was manhandled tonight. Almost raped.

Her whole body is numb, and she isn't even sure where she's walking to.

She just knows she needs to get as far away from Granny's Diner as possible.

She hears the car pull up, but doesn't turn. She doesn't want anyone to see her. How hideous she must look...

"Hey! Hey, Ruby!"

Her heart drops.

Just her luck.

She's run into one of her good friends.

She's run into the Sheriff.

"Ruby, wait up!"

She hears his car door slam, and starts running.

But he's chasing after her, his boots clapping on the floor.

And she starts crying and panicking, because it feels like before.

Her running...Dr. Whale chasing...

"Ruby!"

His arms wrap around her and she's beating against his chest, screaming and trying her hardest to fight him off.

Because she will not be a victim again.

She refuses to be treated this way.

She refuses to be treated this way simply because of who she is.

"Ruby, Ruby! I'm not gonna hurt you, Stop!" He's shouting, but she isn't listening.

Her arms are constricted and her whole body feels as if it weights ten tonnes.

She can't support herself anymore.

She's falling to the floor, but he's there, falling with her, his arms still wrapped around her tightly.

"What happened?" He asks, his voice filled with concern. She can't talk.

She's not even sure she can breath.

"Ruby! It's okay! I'm not going to hurt you, you know I'm not! I'm just trying to help, okay!"

He slowly loosens his hold around her and she finally starts to calm down.

And that's when he notices the cut on her jaw...the bruising around her neck...

"Ruby...who did this to you?" he whispers, touching the bruises lightly. She looks at him with bright blue eyes filled with tears.

"Graham..." She whispers simply. He sighs and wraps a protective arm around her shoulders.

"They aren't going to hurt you anymore, okay?"

"Everyone will say I deserve it...and I do..." She whispers hoarsely.

He growls under his breath.

"No, you don't!" He lifts her chin and forces her to look at him, but being as gentle as he can.

"I don't care if you were naked, lying on a table and begging for it, you don't deserve to be treated like this!" He hisses. She winces at his ferocity.

"I c-can't go h-home..." She breaths out shakily. He shakes his head.

He knows Ruby well. She rarely goes back to her place with her Granny when she's been out all night.

The accusatory glares. The scoffs.

Ruby complains about this often when he's at Granny's Diner, hanging out with her.

"I know. Come on, up you get." He helps her up slowly, using encouraging, soothing tones.

And that's when they hear it.

A drunken holler.

His blood boils.

"Dr. Whale..." He says fiercely. And he knows, simply from that drunken holler of his, that he's the one responsible for Ruby's pain tonight.

Ruby starts shaking all over again. She looks at him with wide eyes, filled with fear.

"Wait here." Graham says firmly.

"No! No, Graham, don't please-"

But he's walking away from her, his mind filled with a buzzing sound.

Dr. Whale is laughing, a beer bottle in his hands. He sees Ruby and spreads his arms open.

"Ruby! Where'd you go to! Last thing you did was kick me in the-"

He falls to the floor, dazed and confused at the impact of Graham's fist in his face.

Graham barely registers the pain in his hand and starts pummeling every part of Dr. Whale he can reach. Ruby's begging him to stop but he doesn't.

He's never beaten up anyone this badly since his father laid his hands on his mother.

Dr. Whale is nothing but an unconscious, bloody pulp lying underneath him and Graham scoffs.

"Try and fix that, Dr." He growls.

Ruby is rocking back and forth on the floor, looking at Dr. Whale's twitching form. Dr. Whale groans and she shrieks. Graham wipes the blood from his hands, his whole body heaving as he tries to take deep breaths and calm down.

He's not sure what has just happened.

All he knows is Dr. Whale has paid for what he did to Ruby.

And that is all he needs to know to help him sleep tonight.

But the question is: What happens to Ruby?

She can't go back home. Granny will flip out the minute she sees the bruises and the cut.

So where can she go?

He wouldn't mind bringing her back to his place, but he isn't sure she'll be okay with that.

Not after what happened tonight.

He sighs and walks over to her, helping her up.

"Ruby...come on...you can't stay alone tonight...come with me."

To his surprise, she doesn't protest. She simply nods and walks with him back to the car, glancing every now and then back at Dr. Whale, who is slowly starting to stir.

He takes her back to his place. He gives her his bed for the night.

He even gives her some of his clothes to change into.

Truth is, he and Ruby have always had a silent connection.

They've spoken often, and they're quite good friends, but there's always been something more there, under the surface. A connection.

A connection that tells him she's fragile and broken because of the reputation people like Dr. Whale give her here in Storybrooke.

He wishes people wouldn't call her a slut.

He doesn't believe it for a second.

She's just a young woman, stuck in a town where everyone is either one stereotype or the other.

And she's just trying to be her own person.

If that supposedly makes you a slut, then Ruby wears it with pride.

But it takes its toll on her, and Graham can see that now.

How she's shivering under his blankets. How the reputation she has gained as led to her attack tonight.

He walks over to her with a first aid kit and dabs the wound on her jaw lightly. She hisses at the pain at first, but it subsides.

"No one is gonna hurt you anymore. I promise." He murmurs.

And she smiles at him.

"Thank you. For everything."

"Let's just hope Dr. Whale took it as a message not to mess with you anymore."

She winces at that and he sighs.

"Sorry."

"He came out of nowhere. I was just cleaning the Diner up and..." She chokes out, tears in her eyes.

"Shh...it's okay. You don't have to tell me." He whispers, frowning. She nods and he gets up.

"Get some sleep, okay?"

But her hand grips his tightly, almost vice-like.

"Please...I don't want to be by myself tonight." She whispers.

He contemplates this with hesitation.

But she's looking at him in desperation and sadness.

Why shouldn't he? They're friends after all...

Right?

So he lies down next to her and she curls up next to him.

Like he said, he and Ruby always had a silent connection.

He knows she needs comfort.

So when he wraps his arms around her and she smiles at him, he knows she feels safe now.

And even he has to admit.

She looks good in those short shorts and his football jersey.

Not a spot of make-up on her face, her hair tied up in a ponytail...

In his eyes, this is the sexiest she's ever looked.

He wants to tell her that, but he doesn't.

But she smirks at him and he cocks an eyebrow and he can tell she knows that's what he's thinking.

Maybe he's not the only one aware of this connection between them.

She chuckles and presses herself against him more, sighing in content.

"Goodnight, Graham."

His whole body buzzing with electricity, he sighs, but places a kiss on her forehead.

"Goodnight, Ruby."