"That stupid thing is glued to your arms isn't it?" The snide remark stated rather matter of fact. Quickly throwing her glance up from the pavement, Mella caught the gaze of none other than Don. Not again, her brain automatically feared. It seemed as though his one reason for living was to torment her. He constantly targeted an easy prey that never defended herself. "Never see you without it." He informed; the mocking tone still present in his voice. He strode toward her and Mella broke her gaze from his narrow eyes. When he was finally within a foot of her, he stared down at the ebony book which she had clasped to her chest. "You'd probably fall apart without that stupid book wouldn't you? As weak and as fragile as one of its pathetic pages." His hand came dangerously close toward her. She flinched, her eyes wide, jaw clenched. This was no new occurrence and so it always remained that she froze in place unable to respond or simply run away. "What's inside that ridiculous binding of papers? Your deepest thoughts perhaps? All incredibly stupid poems about bunnies and butterflies I bet." She wanted to cry she was so angry. More angry at herself that she remained frozen there allowing him to continuously harass her and degrade her being. But he had no clue who she was and he never would. She'd make sure of that. The tears began to sting her eyes, threatening to overflow. They said it was nothing. It's what guys do when they like you. But he was doing it purely because he enjoyed saying and doing things at the expense of someone else's feelings. And not at just anyone's feelings. Mella seemed to be his one and only target out of an entire high school of students. His only target at this degree anyway. "Give it to me." His voice growled. Her arms tightened around the book in response.

"No..." Her voice was just above a whisper. Eyes widening in surprise, he narrowed them again and hissed,

"What?" Her lips trembled as she struggled to summon the courage once again to tell him

'No'. Inside she was screaming the defiance, but it refused to leave her body once more.

"WHAT?" His voice rose threateningly.

"She said 'No'." Mella's eyes quickly fled toward the deep voice that had pierced the tension. A stranger remained standing several feet behind them. Don swiveled his head toward the assaulting voice, his long, dirty, black hair swinging with the motion. His shadow descended from Mella as he turned completely around to face his offender. Mella shifted weight to her other foot, staring straight at the owner of the new voice. His dark waves of hair cascading around his face like an enraged halo of fire. His eyes were difficult to make out but his expression was relaxed. Even so, it was easy to see he was not pleased. "You heard what she said. Leave her alone." His deep voice plainly ordered. A smirk appeared on Don's thin lips.

"Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? I be damned if I listen to an ass like you." Mella's heart felt like it was about to leap from her chest. The stranger seemed not the slightest bit affected by Don's words and instead shrugged and folded his arms.

"I figured as much. I didn't expect you to listen. You're clearly deaf since you couldn't hear someone an inch away from you say 'No'. It's also apparent you're lacking in the sight and smell department seeing as you haven't bathed since your last passing test grade. Which I imagine hasn't been since preschool."

Mella was in shock at the confidence in which he possessed. And although she couldn't see the furious look on Don's face, she could feel it radiating from his body. Still, he didn't so much as flinch. They seemed to be challenging each other with an intent stare, neither saying or moving until Don exploded, striking an arm fast toward Mella. She had barely anytime to react. The stranger flinched and gasped at Don's sudden action. Tripping over her own two feet she managed not to fall to the ground as Don's bulky arm wrapped itself around the back of her neck. He took the opportunity of her startled state to snatch away her book with his free hand. Gasping, she tried to reach for it but his left arm tightened around the side of her neck and she grimaced. He smirked evilly again; the ebony book shined in the sunlight as he held it up like some sort of trophy. Clenching his teeth and balling his hands into fists, the stranger held his stance and stared down at the brute before him.

"Let go of her." Don's cruel smile remained.

"I don't think you're in a position to tell me that, pretty boy."

"If you don't back off, YOU'LL be in a position where you can't tell anyone anything."

"That a threat? And in the presence of a lady no less..." Don taunted. Mella squinted her eyes, trying to ignore the pain and tension rising in the muscles of her neck. "Let's see what's in this dumb ass book once and for all shall we?"

"Let go!" Mella gasped, now desperate to have what was rightfully hers. Don only ignored her and flipped open the black cover. Furious, the stranger could only look on. Any kind of immediate action risked harming that girl.

"Humph...doodles..." Don said flatly as his eyes met with the paper, degrading her work so swiftly with just one small word. A loose paper suddenly slipped out and landed on the ground below. Mella could only stare down at it as Don curiously stooped down, bringing her down with him to retrieve it. His unruly eyebrows furrowed and his expression was no longer of someone calm and in control. What he saw on the stray piece of paper had clearly irritated him more than anything. "Isn't this interesting." He began through clenched teeth. "Come to rescue your pathetic girlfriend?" Don sneered. Mella watched in horror as he began to crumble part of her work in his tightening fist.

"She's not my girlfriend."

"My ass." Don insisted.

"Quit with the fucking games and let go of her." Crumbling up the rest of the paper, Don threw it to the ground along with Mella. She stumbled away and collapsed to her knees, her hands immediately tending to her throbbing neck. She spun around just in time to see Don throw a right hook toward his opponent but missed and was instead kicked to the ground. She looked on in horror, unable to shout protests as she watched both of them fight. Don continued to throw more punches, his misses greater than his hits but he managed to get the final one. His fist meeting his enemies face with such force, causing the stranger to stumble backwards and finally fall hard onto the unforgiving surface of the rocky pavement. It was only then did a teacher finally rush into break it up after seeing as a sea of people had formed, bringing needed attention.

"Keep it there." The nurse's soft voice instructed as she exited the tiny room. Mella sat slumped on one of the three long beds lined up against the white sterile walls. She did as the nurse said, holding the small ice pack to her sore neck. Her eyes sad as they usually looked, could only think of what had happened to him and where he was. She was soon swept from her thoughts, as voices outside began to whisper. Sliding off the bed and leaving behind the melting pack, she crept toward the door and peered outside to see the nurse speaking with the principal.

"He's awake now. That kid sure did a number on his face though." The nurse informed the exhausted looking principal.

"Well rest assured neither of them will be back here anytime soon." Mella furrowed her brow nervously and watched as the nurse followed the principle into his office. Most likely to make the necessary phone calls home. She sighed heavily, feeling incredibly guilty. She turned around to return to her melting ice but instead changed her mind and left the room. Looking around cautiously she slowly approached the door to her right. It was left only slightly ajar and while it was dead silent she knew he was inside. Pushing it open, she prayed for it's silence but instead got the usual loud creaking door sound. She cringed and flinched away but when nothing was said she pushed it open farther to see him sitting on the same kind of bed, his back against the white wall. His left side exposed to her she saw him holding up a large ice pack to the side of his face. She bit her bottom lip, wanting to say something but she remained standing there quietly in the door way. After a few moments lost in thought, it finally occurred to her she had no clue why she had come. She wasn't saying anything and she hadn't even planned on saying anything. Flustered and anxious she swiftly spun around to leave.

"Wait." Mella stopped and turned to look at him. He hadn't moved an inch. He hadn't seen her but he knew she was there of course. "Stay." He softly offered. She swallowed nervously, feeling her throat go instantly dry. She walked into the room and stood nervously by the end of the plastic green mattress. Mella knew what she wanted to say but as she finally was ready to open her mouth to say it, words left from his lips instead. "You ok?" Mella was taken back to hear him ask her that. She had figured he must have been pretty angry with her for what had happened. She blinked at him, he still hadn't moved not even as he asked the question. Mella bowed her head and nodded,

"I am, thank you."

"Good." He breathed quietly. She heard him sigh and lifted her gaze to look at him. He had turned his face toward hers and already she noticed how swollen his left eye had become next to the bulky ice pack.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For what happened. It's my fault, I should've..." He quickly interrupted her.

"You're ridiculous." Her eyes widened and her eyebrows lifted in surprise at his sudden statement. "How could you think that? It's not your fault that he's a complete ass. And don't even try to justify that with him being that way because of you. " Mella's gaze drifted down toward the floor. "He always treats you that way doesn't he?" Mella bit her bottom lip and nodded. "I would have taught him a lesson but as you can see I suck when it comes to fighting." Just the way he had said it made her want to laugh, something she hadn't done in a long time.

"Did he do something to you?"

"To me?" Mella nodded. "Well he punched the hell out of me."

"I mean...before. Isn't that why you challenged him and called him all those things? To settle a score?"

"No. I had the fortunate pleasure to have never known the cretin until a few hours ago. You thought that was the only reason I approached him, to settle a grudge?" Mella nodded in reply. "I saw what he was doing to you. Nothing pisses me off more to see a girl in a relationship with a real loser. The kind who are bent on controlling everything and taking everything away. I saw him and immediately wanted to bust his ass."

"NO! Don is NOT my..." She couldn't even bring herself to use those two words in the same sentence. "And he'll never be."

"He's not?"

"No." Mella assured firmly.

"Well good then." He replied. Mella didn't know what to say. He had confronted Don in order to help her? No one had ever done that for her. No one.

"Thank you." Her eyes began to glisten with tears. Surprised by her strong reaction he realized how much it had meant to her. Aiden straightened his back up against the wall.

"No problem." He answered coolly and Mella suddenly felt his hand on hers. Her cheeks flushed as she stared down at it and looked up to him. He smiled gently and she finally took notice of his eyes. They were round and deep and brown and beautiful.

Her own eyes widened and realization had never hit her so hard as it had just then.

Her hand suddenly stung with cold. Her gaze broken, she quickly realized he had taken her hand and placed it on his ice pack. "Um, mind holding that for me? My hands killin' me." Flustered she held it in place for him. Of course, why else would he of touched her hand? She held it there awkwardly, blushing and avoiding his eyes. He smiled and spoke, "Funny. All this time I've been going on to you. Now you're holding my ice pack for me and we don't even know each other's names."

"Oh! Um, yeah..." Mella replied anxiously, wanting nothing more but then to dart out of the room. He continued to look at her.

"Well...what's your name?"

"Mella." He smiled again and she couldn't help but smile back.

"Aiden." He replied, outstretching his right hand for a shake. She shook it awkwardly with her left hand and he chuckled.

"Oh, and I thought you might be missing this." He said as he reached around to pull out her book from behind him. Aiden immediately saw her face light up as he handed it to her and thought of how he'd like to see it do that again. Gripping it tightly, she looked toward the floor and spoke a soft 'Thank you'. An agonizing several moments of quiet formed before Mella found the courage to excuse herself.

"I have to go. Thank you." She said rather quickly. Aiden watched quietly as she rushed toward the door, disappearing from sight. He leaned over onto this elbow just enough to retrieve something worn and crumpled from his back pocket. Opening the disheveled paper as well as he could, he gazed onto the sketch of his face.