A/N: So I decided to put these back up on ffn but under a different account. Yup, this is PaperbackWriter318!
I shivered and pulled my coat more tightly around my shoulders. I wasn't sure exactly where I was in Liverpool, but some instinct kept telling me that this was a really bad idea. Not that I cared; I just wanted to be away from my house and all the nightmares it contained.
It was actually kind of pretty here, around the docks with the ever-present fog swirling through the air, the street lights just barely illuminating the street. Not really seeing any other option, I leaned against the corner of a building and took in the scenery. I would think of somewhere to stay later. Just then, a monstrous paw of a hand shot out and clamped over my mouth and nose.
My muffled and unintelligible screams were punctuated by my frantic wriggling and kicking as I attempted to free myself, but to no avail. He slammed me against the brick wall with ease, as though I weighed no more than a small sack of potatoes. His hand left my mouth, and with its match began exploring my back for the zipper of my light green dress and my bum. As soon as my mouth was free I started screaming.
"Help me! Help me!" I screamed shrilly, kicking him with all my might. Unfortunately, "all my might" appeared to leave him unperturbed.
"Well, I caught meself a pretty little bird, didn't I?" His gigantic face loomed closer as his left hand found my zipper and tugged a little, and I could smell the alcohol and tobacco, sour on his breath. "Don't scream, me dear," he leered "It'll only make matters worse for ya. Besides, no one will 'ear ya." My obstinate personality prevailed, and I kept right on screaming and pounding against him with my feet. As I did this, one of my shoes flew off and quickly fell out of sight.
Well, that's one shoe lost forever, I thought grimly.
One of his ham-sized hands came up and stroked my face, making me shudder in disgust. With one hand free and a clear shot, I saw my chance. Putting as much force behind my hand as I could, I slapped him clean across the face. Even in the dim light, I could see a nice little red mark that bore extraordinary resemblance to my hand.
"Argh! Ye little bitch!" he yowled in agony. Still muttering a string of impressively nasty curses, he reached into his pocket and drew something small from it. I heard the telltale ping! of a switchblade being unsheathed. This was it. I was a goner for sure.
"Just for bein' so impudent, I think this is fittin'." I opened my mouth to scream again, despite the apparent lack of help it had procured so far. "Oh go right ahead, missy," he chuckled evilly. "Like I said, no one will hear ya." He yanked on my hair brutally, so that my neck was fully exposed. I refused to cry, even though there were hot tears stinging my eyes and threatening to spill over.
"Y'know," a voice came out of the alleyway "When a bird says no, she usually means no." The teddy boy was so surprised that someone had heard me that he let go of my hair and I started trembling, my heart going double-time its already lively tempo.
"Miss," the unknown man made sure his voice only carried to me and no further, lest the teddy hear and intervene "You might want to hit the deck."
Seeing no better alternative, I obeyed and hit the dirt, scrambling sideways for good measure. I looked up just in time to see my unknown savior's fist make contact with the teddy boy's face.
A heart-stopping moment passed, and then blood spurted from his nose. The other man had broken it. He looked surprised for a moment, and then his face contorted in fury, made even worse by the flowing blood, and he roared drunkenly.
"Yer a dead man!" He bellowed, brandishing his switchblade and advancing toward the man who very probably saved my life. He swung the blade and my savior ducked, punching the teddy in the gut, doubling him over. My savior inched forward, probably intending to get the teddy with a blow to the head, thus knocking him out. No such luck.
The teddy's meaty hand shot out and grabbed the other man's wrist with a triumphant, "HA! Got you now, ya little worm!" The other man jerked his arm out of the teddy's death grip. They were locked in a fistfight now, except in the teddy's case it was more of a fist-and-switchblade fight. I think the teddy got the other man with his switchblade because I heard him grunt, but he still whipped his arm upward and knocked the teddy boy on the side of the head so hard that he went down and didn't get up again.
Breathing hard, the other man walked over to me, where I remained crouched in terror. He had something in his hand. "Miss..." he trailed off.
"Emily," I supplied for him.
"Miss Emily, are you alright?" he knelt in front of me "And is this yours?" He held my shoe out to me and I took it gratefully, slipping it onto my very chilly foot.
"T-thanks-s," I chattered "W-w-why d-did you d-do that?" He looked puzzled for a moment, and I noticed that his eyes were a startling blue. Then his expression cleared.
"Oh. D'you mean, why did I save ya?" I nodded, still shivering violently. "Well, it's quite simple. I didn't want you to die." The full realization of how close to death's door I had come hit me like a brick wall. I started shaking harder, and tears started to course down my face, turning to ice on my cheeks as the bitter wind touched them.
He pulled me into his arms, and then I was crying into the shoulder of a complete stranger. His hold was strong, reassuring, and he smelled good; like wood-smoke and leaves in the fall.
"Shh, it's all right, luv," he murmured into my hair "Yer gonna be alright." Slowly, my sobs lessened and my shivering ceased. I pulled my tearstained face away from his shoulder and sniffed a little.
"'Ere," he said gently "Be a good girl and blow your nose, then." I smiled shakily and took the offered handkerchief, blew my nose, and wiped away my tears. He held out his arm to help me to my feet. As soon as I touched his arm though, he flinched. There was something warm and sticky on my hand. Blood. And not my own. His blood.
I gasped and closely examined his forearm. A gash tore through his jacket, his shirt, and finally his skin.
Oh, my God!" I exclaimed, rifling through my bag for a piece of cloth to slow the bleeding. "'E got you pretty bad, didn't 'e?"
"Looks like it," he grunted a little as I pressed my handkerchief to his arm. "An' he got me best shirt, too," he grumbled.
The fact that he was more worried about his ruined shirt than the gash in his arm made me smile a little.
"Do ya have any place to go?" he asked me suddenly.
"Well, no," I responded with some surprise "I'm new here." This was neither true nor false; I had lived on the outskirts of Liverpool all my life, but I had never been into town except for school, and I was expected to come straight home after that. He looked at me, and I had the uncomfortable feeling that all my feelings and emotions were hanging right out in the open for him to see.
"I'm sure me mum's got room fer one more," he said generously.
My eyes popped open wide "I couldn't do that to ya!" I exclaimed "I'm already owin' ya for savin' my life!"
"S'no problem," he waved it off, and I felt as though I had no other choice but to accept his offer. We walked in silence for a long bit. "If ya don't mind my askin'," he said slowly "Wot in bloody 'ell were ya doin' wanderin' around the nastiest neighborhood in Liverpool this late?"
I'm new here, like I said, so I don't know much about the neighborhoods, or what's in 'em." I still couldn't discern whether this statement was true or false.
He grimaced "I grew up around 'ere. Trust me, it's not a good place to be in, especially at night." He looked at me again, and I felt the uncomfortable feeling of being X-rayed by his eyes again. "Why did you run away from 'ome?" he asked quietly "No, wait, lemme guess. Parent troubles got to be too much for ya?" I opened my mouth in outrage, how dare he make such a bold assumption! But I closed it again at the expression on his face.
"How did ya know?" I asked quietly, looking into his earnest blue eyes.