A/N: Hello! I'd just like to say that my amazing friend Honeyshine helped me a lot with this. Also, this is my first ever attempt at writing something quite like this, so I hope you like it!
"Faster, faster, faster, come on!" I thought to myself as I pedaled down the street one summer evening. I was on my way home from the grocery store after getting everything that would be needed for dinner at my house. Being the oldest of seven children, I happened to do that a lot. The small pile of food in my bike's basket would be just barely enough, but it was all my family could afford. Distracted by my thoughts, I made a sharp, right turn at the very last second. Was I even supposed to turn there? We had just moved to Merrysville shortly after…after…I didn't like to talk about it, so I wasn't very familiar with everything yet. I knew I would have to be soon, though. School started in less than a week. The final bits of light finally faded from the dark blue sky, leaving me to rely on the dim streetlights. My mom would be mad if I wasn't home soon, but I simply couldn't go any faster. I had modified my old one quite a bit, making it a lot faster, but we had to leave it behind when we moved. There I was again, getting distracted. I didn't even notice them until it was too late. Something sharp and hard hit my arm, causing me to tip over. Spilling out on the grass, I realized it was a rock, and standing above me were five familiar faces. They were well known as the town's bullies, older kids who liked to pick on the younger, weaker ones. But I for one would not stand for that. I stood up quickly, paying no attention to my bleeding arm, only to be grabbed tightly by one of them, a girl wearing all black. I was aware of the fear showing on my face. Unable to speak, she shook me violently.
"Kid, we just want your money. Are you going to give it to us or not?" she whispered dangerously. Actually, she didn't look that much older than me.
"I, I don't have any," I said quietly, because it was true. She threw me to the ground.
"I'm not! Go away!" There I was, flat on my back, expecting them to believe me. But luckily, one of the others saw my bike, and the food.
"Food!" he yelled. The whole group ran to my bike, the girl kicking me on her way. I didn't even care that they were going to take it, and that I would have to walk home empty handed. It hurt, but I wouldn't let myself cry. I just stayed on the ground, in the dark, until they left. What I did notice though, was that the one on my bike knocked over a garbage can as they left. I could see it from my position, but I closed my eyes, not wanting to go home, not wanting to face anyone's anger. My arm was still bleeding, so I held it with my other hand and rolled onto one side. Both of my arms had scars, but that one had more. They were all from…that thing I didn't want to talk about. I felt something touch my back, just very lightly, and only for a second, but I held my breath anyway. It was still there; I knew it was, just waiting to finish me off. What if it was him? It couldn't be. He knew I wouldn't talk, not that I had anything to say anyway. It touched me again, that time on my arm, and I could tell it was a human by the warm, soft hands. Having some trust, I opened my eyes and sat up. The something turned out to be a boy about my age. I inched shyly away, not feeling so sure anymore. He came right back toward me.
"What do you want?" I asked, voice shaking. Ever since…that thing, I had to admit that I was being a little over cautious toward people.
"Are, are you hurt?" he replied, seeming a little scared as well.
"I'mFINE!" I said, maybe a little too loudly. No one needed to know what I had been through, and I knew I would end up telling if I let my guard down. "I have to get home." I had every intention to leave the boy behind, but he ended up following me as I stood up and made my way back to the sidewalk. It hurt to walk, and that was when I noticed that several of the still fresh scars on my legs had been torn open from the fall. I was really a mess, but fortunately the long cut on my arm was my most noticeable injury.
"Can I at least walk with you?" he asked.
"Ok," I replied as he began walking by my side. We were both silent for a moment. "What's your name?" I don't know why I asked. It just felt like something wasn't right, like I was supposed to say something.
"Loid. What's yours?"
"Arietta." What was I thinking?! I usually wasn't that quick to give out my name anymore. Inside, I was just waiting for something terrible to happen.
"That's a beautiful name." Experience told me not to believe it, but I wanted to so badly.
"Thank you," I stared at the ground passing below me as I kept walking. I would not reveal anything else about myself. As a matter of fact, I wasn't even going to talk.
"So Arietta, where exactly are we walking to?" But it seemed as if Loid was making an effort to be friendly toward me. It didn't matter. I was not going to talk, even if I was the closest I had ever been to making a friend in a long, long time. Even back in Podunk, no one who was anyone wanted to be seen with someone like me. There was silence for a long time. It made me think. Against my will, I remembered the face of Giegue, what he did to me, and the feel of blood on my face and all over me. "Arietta?" Loid was talking to me, but it felt so distant. "Are you sure you're ok? Arietta?"
"Yes. I'm ok." I tried to keep as calm as possible. Inside though, I was screaming "No, it hurts!" The same thing, I realized, that I said to Giegue as he nearly killed me.
"That's good. I was worried for a second. So where are we going?"
"Home." I wanted to leave it at that, but somehow couldn't. "Home so I can watch my family starve another day. And hopefully the little sister living in my closet won't notice anything is wrong so she can go on thinking that life is all sunshine and rainbows." I looked up at Loid for the first time and noticed his amazing silver eyes that matched his hair. "I'm sorry." Then, my thoughts were torn into two pieces. One told me to say "I'm going to walk alone now," and then take off running, and the other half wanted to say "Please stay with me! I need someone to understand!" I fought and fought with myself until eventually I had to call a tie. Taking a moment to observe the area and recognize where I was, I notice that we had entered the bad part of town, the part that I lived in. My mom warned me that it wasn't safe there at night, but I was not in the mood to care.
"You know that feeling you get when you just want someone to get what they deserve?" I don't know what I was thinking when I said that, but I just needed to say something. Change the subject.
"All the time. And then, I make sure they get it," he replied, making me curious.
"Have you ever…blown something to pieces?" I actually smiled as I said that. I knew it was a little unlikely, but…
"Yes, actually. You know the five? The ones who go around making trouble?" I knew all too well.
"Yeah." I wouldn't bring up the fact that they hurt me and stole my bike; it would ruin the happy moment.
"I blew up their hideout once. It was pretty fun. You see, I make fireworks, so I have some experience with explosives." I couldn't believe it. I started laughing! Quietly, though.
"You did not! That's amazing!"
"I did. They've been after me for that ever since. I think some people are scared of me though. But that's ok." I knew the feeling I got then. It was trust.
"They just don't know how to have fun!" I said, excited. But it quickly turned to fear as I heard people yelling from a house across the street. I froze as three angry people stepped outside. They were all screaming at each other. Something about debt. An "or else" thrown in there. I didn't even notice the gun.
"Look out!" There was a sudden cry and I felt myself being shoved roughly to the ground as the loud bang of the gun went off. One of my arms scraped against the hard pavement of the road, and I bit back my scream as best as I could. However, a small whimper still escaped my lips.
"Are you okay?" Loid looked at me, concern clouding his gaze.
I only whimpered again.
He looked over his shoulder and quickly muttered, "Stay down," before pulling out his own gun.
"Wait—!" I screamed, but it was too late.
Loid's gun shot out a laser beam of its own, firing it at the crazy guy. He immediately fell dead.
But not before he shot his gun again.
I didn't recall seeing him fire it. All I felt was the searing pain as the bullet pierced my arm. And this time, I did scream. My pain, my agony…
"Arietta! It's okay! It's…" Loid trailed off as he saw the bullet wound.
"It hurts… It hurts!" I screamed, clutching at my arm, my eyes shutting as if I actually thought that by doing so, the pain would just disappear.
"It… hurts…" I whimpered, sobbing as I clutched Loid's shirt for comfort.
There was a sound of ripping fabric, and something soft circled my arm. I cautiously opened my eyes a crack. Loid was wrapping a piece of fabric from his sleeve around my arm carefully, as if just realizing how weak and vulnerable I was, and he wanted to treat me with care…
"Are you okay now?" he asked.
He gave me a look. "Don't lie."
"I-I'm not… Okay… No…"
"I didn't think so," he said grimly, and grabbed my good arm. "You can come over to my house to clean your wound, then I'll walk you home."
I instantly felt a little… fear, maybe exhilaration, a little… excitement, maybe? "I… No, I couldn't. I-I mean…"
"You need to get that wound looked at. I can help you clean it and check to see if it's infected or not," he argued.
"My sisters, brothers, my… mom, they're all expecting me home by now. What'll I say when I come home with this wound, no food, no bike—almost nothing?!"
"I'll let you take some of the food I have. I can share," he said shrugging.
"But—!" I protested, but paused after feeling my warm blood continue to drip down my arm. "Ok."
He nodded. "Okay let's go." He wrapped one arm around his neck and supported me as we walked over to his place. I stared in disbelief at my torn arm at my side. I moved slowly, feeling the burning in my arm, but I was thankful that Loid didn't pressure me to go any faster.
"I'm sorry for all the trouble I'm causing you," I said, suddenly feeling very grateful.
"It's no problem. You don't' deserve to be left alone like this." He replied.
"Thank you so much." Before I even knew it, he was leading me up to a house. We hadn't gone that far back in the direction we came from.
"Here we are," he opened the door, "Everyone else is asleep, so we should be fine."
"O-okay," I said quietly, looking around his house. "It's so… big."
He smiled in the darkness. "Come on, the basement isn't really used, but it's still nice. We can take a look at your wound there."
I let him lead me through a few hallways and a set of stairs. "Is your family rich? I've never been to a house this large before…"
"I guess you could say about average. Yeah, my parents own some land, have good jobs… but that doesn't matter right now."
There was a click and lights flashed on. "Sit down. We need to clean it." Loid grabbed the closest bucket and filled it with water from a nearby sink, also grabbing one or two other supplies.
Pull up your sleeve a little so it can be cleaned more easily," he instructed.
He sighed. "It's okay, I won't do anything to hurt you."
I felt reassurance bubble up inside of me. "That's not it, but, okay." Wincing as the fabric rubbed against the wound, I carefully pulled the sleeve a little higher to shoulder length. "Is that good enough?"
He only stared. "Where did you get all those cuts?" he asked disbelievingly.
I lowered my gaze. "It's… not important."
He frowned, but then nodded and rinsed the bullet wound with a little water, asking if it hurt every once in a while. After about five minutes, the blood stopped flowing from it. Loid looked at it and breathed a sigh of relief. "I think you'll be okay." The worry in his eyes faded.
"I'll just wrap it up in some gauze stuff and walk you home, since… it's so late."
He grabbed the gauze wrap stuff and wrapped it around my wounded arm, tying it at the end. "That's the best I can do."
I smiled meekly. "No, thank you… I-I probably would be in a lot worse shape if you hadn't been there."
"…I was seriously scared. I was scared that you could have… died…" he finally said softly. "If that bullet had hit you… near your heart… then…" he trailed off.
A warm feeling spread through me. "Th-thanks," I said, dropping my gaze. "For worrying about me, that is… It's not often that someone… does."
An unnatural silence fell over us. I hadn't realized how… close we were until I felt his lips softly brush against mine for a second or two.
"I'm just glad you're not too hurt," he said.
My heart was thudding wildly in my chest. What just happened? I raised my fingers to my mouth and lightly touched where he'd kissed me. Did I really…?
"S-sorry, it's just-the moment-you looked kinda…cute at the moment… and I couldn't stop myself—," Loid said, a slight flush seeping into his cheeks.
"I-it's okay… I… It made me kind of… happy…" I stammered, also blushing a little.
He smiled again, relieved. "Okay, then. I'll walk you home now, if you want," he offered.
"I'd like that. Thanks," I answered.
Quietly, we slipped out of the house, and back on the street.
"Right, so where exactly do you live?" Loid asked.
"A little south of here," I said.
He nodded and we finally began walking home, hand in hand, and a newfound happiness in our hearts.