The Protector Chapter 1

"...so I dive right in front of the chick, and wrap myself around the ball, and she runs right into me, almost breaks my back..."

Kate rolled her eyes at Sam's ramble about last weekend's soccer game. Apparently, Sam had played goalie, and almost killed herself doing it. As always. Sam tended to exaggerate about her battle scars from soccer, but Kate knew that this time the story wasn't stretched too much. Earlier in the day a friend had snuck up behind them, and Sam almost yelled from the pain of a poke war.

"I had to sit out the rest of the half. I was so bummed. I was like, coach, I'm fine, put me back in! He made me wait, though."

"Hey, Sam?" Kate interrupted, as they dodged other students trying to make it to their fifth period classes.

"Yeah?" Sam gave Kate a sideways glance.

"Maybe we could wait until you see everybody else to tell them about the game. Then you wouldn't have to say it over and over again." Kate was looking for a way to escape the soccer tale, and she planned to sneak away with Tiffany when the group met up later. That way she wouldn't have to hear the tale at all.

Sam grinned. "You know, you can be pretty smart sometimes, Kate." Sam always teased Kate about how smart she was. "I think I'm done with the soccer thing anyway. I'm running out of breath."

"Thank god." Kate rolled her eyes as they walked into the chorus room.

Lynn danced away from the arms of her friend as Tanya made a wild grab to get her pen back. A door slammed and Lynn looked up to see Sam and Kate walk through the door.

"Hey guys!" Lynn called, still holding Tanya's pen out of reach. Tanya looked up as well, pulling a chair beside her own for Sam to sit in, the pen forgotten. Sam set down her bookbag and the Science book she was holding, and lazily plopped herself into the chair. She winced.

"What's wrong?" Lynn asked, concerned.

"Soccer injury. Don't ask." Kate whispered. "It's a long story."

"I heard that." Sam raised an eyebrow at Lynn and Kate. "I would tell you, but I'm tired, and it's been a long day."

The group was distracted when the teacher called Tanya's name during role call. "Here!" Tanya waved. Then she started digging through her bookbag, finally fishing out a folded up sheet of paper. "Look at this!"

"This?" Kate asked, taking the paper from Tanya.

"Yep. Note from Craig." Tanya looked like she was about to die from laughter.

"Oh." Kate suddenly understood.

"Oh? Oh what?" Sam eyed the paper, suspicious. "What's going on?"

Lynn giggled. "Craig asked her out." Tanya looked to Sam for her reaction. Sam's face was blank, as it normally was when Sam couldn't quite figure something out. Nobody spoke for a moment.

"He likes you?" Sam finally asked. She didn't like where this was going.

"Obviously." Kate answered for Tanya, as Tanya stood up and sat herself in Sam's lap. Sam immediately brightened up.

"Don't worry." Tanya told Sam. "I like you better." Sam grinned, then her face darkened again.

"Not enough to go out with me..." Sam muttered, low enough that Tanya could only hear a few of the words.

"What was that?" Tanya questioned, but Sam shook her head and put her arms around Tanya's waist. Kate and Lynn glanced at each other, not wanting to interrupt the moment between Tanya and Sam. The two didn't get to be together much, even if they weren't really together. Tanya had never accepted Sam's proposal to date, even though Tanya liked Sam. Nobody knew why she had refused, but they acted like they were going out anyway.

Lynn glared at a few of the girls sitting nearby who were gossiping, occassionally glancing at Sam and Tanya. The four of them, as well as a good number of their friends who were not in chorus with them, had to deal with homophobic classmates on a regular basis.

Today was no exception. A ball of paper was thrown at them, obviously with a note written on it. Lynn picked up the ball, and gave a questioning look at the three others.

"Go on. Might as well see what they've come up with this time." Kate told her. Lynn opened it.

NO LESBIANS

"Very original." Remarked Sam, glancing over at the paper. "Throw it back, why don't you." Lynn shrugged and threw it behind her, where it landed in a large recycle bin.

She looked back. "Oh yeah, I rock. I made it in the bin." Lynn lifted a fist in celebration.

"Only cause the bin's so darn big." Sam teased. Tanya grinned, at the comment and at Sam's southern accent, which occasionally showed. Sam didn't really like it, but every once in a while she wouldn't pay attention to what she was doing and the accent would appear.

"Why don't you do it then, oh mighty one?" Lynn taunted.

"Can't, someone's in my lap." Sam grinned, nodding at Tanya. "I'd prefer if she didn't have to move, you know."

Lynn rolled her eyes, while Kate put her two cents in. "If you're such a super-jock-" Sam rolled her eyes at the phrase- "you could make it in the bin even with Tanya in your lap."

Sam appeared thoughtful. "You know what, I think I could." Then Sam caught her eye on the preppy girls who had thrown the first piece of paper. Now one of them had a sign on their back, reading 'NO LESBOS'. She absentmindedly took the ball of paper from Kate, then gently pushed Tanya off her lap. Sam threw the paper ball into the trash bin without really looking as she stood up.

"Hey, that's cheating!" Lynn said, but Sam did not pay any attention to her. Sam kept an eye on the girls, who were sneaking glances at Sam and her friends, sending glares that were sent right back. Lynn noticed the sign. "Sam, don't. Just ignore them. Don't give in."

Sam ignored her and strolled toward the group of three preppy girls, ripping the sign off the back of the one wearing it. "Thanks." She called over her shoulder as she walked back towards the trash bin, crumpled up the sign, and threw it in.

The girl who had worn the sign on her back got up and followed her. The girl's name was Jan, Sam recalled. "Why the fuck did you take that off my back?!" Jan's friends stood up as well, Lynn, Tanya, and Kate walked up behind Sam, and shouting started from all directions. Sam could not tell which words were coming from which people, and pushed the noise away.

Jan pushed Sam, who pushed her right back. A fist swung from somewhere. Sam tried to dodge, but the crowd that surrounded the argument prevented her from moving much. The punch hit her in the shoulder, and Sam became pissed. She threw a punch at Jan, which hit her right in the face. Jan stumbled over some of the people behind her and went down. Tanya grabbed Sam by the shoulders before Sam could do any more damage.

Tanya's voice sounded beside Sam's ear, a clear sound in the commotion surrounding her. "Calm down, Sam. You're okay. We're okay. Don't do more than you have to." Sam suddenly realized how tense she was. She shrugged Tanya off of her and walk out of the chorus room.

After Sam got out of the door, she sprinted down the empty hall, feeling posters on the wall flutter in the breeze she left behind. She heard footsteps racing after her and she ran faster. She burst through the double doors at the end of the hallway and found herself outside. Sam kept running, she ran and ran until she found herself at the edge of the school grounds, and fell down onto the ground near a bench. Sam leaned against the fence surrounding the school grounds and closed her eyes. Sam heard footsteps and kept them closed, until she felt the fence rattle as another person leaned against it.