Woooo, new oneshot.
Alright. So this idea came to me when my gym class did a self-defense unit in school. My partner was the only boy in the class, but he is not my best friend, nor my love-interest. I just figured it would be a cute premise.
This is really just an experiment with a guy's point of view. Toward the end it gets really sappy, I know, and I realize I made him sound like a pansy. Sorry. I am, after all, a female. If I knew how guys thought, I'd probably have one by now XD
Please enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Everyone was always telling me that I was completely whipped.
"Please, Aaron," she had begged. "Please ask Mr. Foreman if you can transfer out of basketball…"
I shook my head sharply as if I was confident, but I looked up at the ceiling to avoid her pleading eyes.
I was not whipped.
"C'mon, Aaron… Out of all those girls in the class, I'm not friends with one of them." Danny grabbed onto my hand and swung it lightly from side to side. She thought nothing of the simple action, but it forced a current all the way up my arm.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and shook my head again, but she could tell by my furrowed expression that I was weakening.
First off, I couldn't have been whipped. Boyfriends were whipped by their girlfriends, and Danny was not my girlfriend. She was my best friend; she always had been, and she always would be. It was as simple as that.
"Aaron," she whispered, her face seemingly troubled. "Please. Please do this for me. Self-defense is a completely partner-involved class. I don't know anyone in that class. C'mon, Aaron. You're my best friend. I'm begging you."
I didn't respond. I just inhaled and sighed, letting my shoulders slump forward. My expression fell and I finally looked directly at her. Knowing that these were signs of defeat, her mouth split into a stunning grin and she threw her arms around me.
I wasn't whipped. I was just a really nice guy. She was my best friend, and I cared about her. I'd do anything to make her happy.
That explained why I was currently sitting in the wrestling room during my ninth period P.E. class, the only boy in a row of twenty-two girls. As we sat against the padded wall, Mr. Foreman paced slowly back and forth, checking our names off on an attendance list. Finally, he looked up.
"Okay, ladies," he said. Then his gaze flickered to me. "And gentleman," he added. A few of the girls snickered, but Danny put her hand over mine and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Mr. Foreman continued. "This is a two-week self defense course. Within that time, you will be taught how to properly guard yourself if you ever happen to come in contact with an attacker. Although you will be learning some moves that are potentially very powerful, please remember: safety first. I'm not going to be too happy if I have to escort a student to the nurse because their partner kicked them in the face." Mr. Foreman clapped his hands together and motioned for all of us to stand. "Alright, partner up and spread out."
Danny and I were located in a corner of the wrestling room. Mr. Foreman had instructed us to practice getting out of a wrist hold. The two of us took turns clamping onto each other's wrists so the other could twist out of it.
"Good. Just like that," Mr. Foreman's voice echoed from across the wrestling room. "No, twist toward the thumb. There you go. Good, Gina." He clapped his hands again. "Now, ladies, try the two-hand hold."
"So you want to come over tonight? Play some video games, maybe rent a movie?" I asked. I placed my hands on either of her arms and Danny quickly maneuvered out of my grasp.
"I can't… I've got something going on tonight. I'm sorry," she said. Her gaze immediately went to the floor.
I raised an eyebrow. Danny always told me about her plans, even if they were in passing. "You hanging out with Jen tonight?"
She shook her head.
"Got another babysitting job?"
"No, that's not it." Danny kept her gaze on the wrestling mats beneath our feet.
"Danny, why aren't you looking at me?" I asked.
Mr. Foreman sauntered toward us. "Less talking, more self-defense," he said. "Try the move for when someone attempts to throw you over their shoulder."
Rolling my eyes, I took a step toward Danny as if I was preparing to pick her up. In order to push me away, the heel of her hand lightly connected with my jawline. Mr. Foreman nodded and moved on to bother someone else. I waited until he was out of earshot before I resumed our conversation.
"Danielle… What is it? You can tell me."
She cleared her throat as I preformed the defense move on her. "I just have a date."
"Oh," I said, furrowing my eyebrows. Then, becoming aware of the disillusionment in my voice, I pushed it away with a half-smile. "Oh. Is that all? Why didn't you say that?"
"I dunno… I just, I didn't think…"
"Now try your punches," Mr. Foreman declared from the other end of the room. "Remember, tuck your thumb under and use the flat side of your knuckles."
"Didn't think what? What's up, Danny?" As I tried to get her to catch my eye-contact, I made a fist, extended my arm out, and carefully placed my knuckle to her jaw line, just barely touching it.
As Danielle prepared to throw her defense punch, she lowered her gaze and cleared her throat again. "With Jeff Harmon."
"Jeff Harmon?!" I spat. In my initial shock, I leaned forward at the exact moment Danny was throwing her pretend-punch. She wasn't able to slow it in time, and the fist that was supposed to just barely brush my jawline smashed directly into my cheekbone.
Needless to say, Mr. Foreman had made it all the way until ninth period without having to escort a student to the nurse's office for ice. He wasn't too happy about it.
"Aaron, I am so sorry," Danny repeated for the millionth time. Clinging onto my arm, she looked up at me and winced upon seeing the bruise forming directly under my eye.
"Honestly. I'm fine, Danny," I replied, shrugging. As we exited the school through the front doors, we headed toward the east-side parking lot. That was where my car was always parked, and it had been my turn to drive that morning.
"I really didn't mean to," she told me. "You leaned forward and I couldn't stop in time and…"
"Danielle, relax," I said, offering her a smile. "It doesn't even hurt anymore."
I put my hands into my jacket pockets and looked up at the sky. Now that it was winter, the sun was setting much earlier. Even though it was only about 3:30 in the afternoon, the light was already starting to disappear behind some clouds toward a corner of the sky.
The parking lot was swarming with students, eager to get home for the weekend. We found my old Sedan and climbed in. I immediately put the keys in and cranked the heat, but I didn't pull away just yet. Instead, I stared through the windshield at the chain-link fence that marked the borders of the campus. I tried to think of how to phrase my words so I didn't sound so protective.
"Danny…" I began.
She sighed lightly, as if she knew what was coming.
"Look… About tonight, I just really don't think it's a good idea."
"Aaron," she implored, her voice soft. "Please, don't start with this."
I began wringing my hands in my lap. "I know, Danny… But I'm just looking out for you. He's hurt you so many times, and I don't want to see it happen again."
She shrugged helplessly. "I've been waiting for this for months, Aaron. Ever since he and I broke up, I've been hoping that he'd come back, and now he has. I mean, I've never thoroughly gotten over him, you know?"
"Maybe that's why you shouldn't get involved again." I turned and faced her. "Look. Even when the two of you were dating, he'd blow you off and… and do really impulsive shit that upset you, and--"
"It's different this time," she insisted. "He promised it would be. He said he'd prove it. He's taking me to my favorite restaurant tonight."
"The one up by Stratford Road?"
Danielle nodded. There was a short pause before she spoke again. "Jeff promised, Aaron. Don't worry about me, okay? Everything will be fine."
She knew that it was impossible for me not to worry about her, especially if an asshole-ex-boyfriend was thrown into the mix. Nonetheless, I nodded and responded only with a short sigh. Then I put my hands on the wheel, backed out of the parking space, and headed for Danielle's house.
The ride was mostly silent with only a few words exchanged here and there. As we approached her street, I stole a glance at her out of the corner of my eye.
No wonder Jeff Harmon wanted her back. She was beautiful. Her wide brown eyes matched the color of her hair. She had a few scarcely placed freckles on the bridge of her nose, and her skin was a pale ivory color. However, Danny wasn't placed in the "beautiful" category with girls who were tall and skinny and wore too much make-up. Her prettiness was natural, and one could see it the second her smile reached her eyes.
She wasn't like most girls in personality, either. Her interests were different, including things like old movies and classic rock and video games and her acoustic guitar. She didn't like things that were simply popular; Danny was deeper than that. She was carefree and innocent and breathtaking.
As I pulled into her driveway and put the car in park, Danny turned to look at me. She shot me a reassuring smile, thanked me for the ride home, and quickly hugged me. She hopped out of the car and headed for her front door, fishing her keys out of her bag as she did so.
Danny disappeared through her door before it shut again. Partially in a daze, I stared at the motionless house and thought about how I was absolutely nothing compared to guys like Jeff Harmon.
Guys like Jeff Harmon were confident and smooth. They worked out on a regular basis, they had deep eyes that girls never got tired of staring into, and they got whatever they wanted with a snap of their fingers. Guys like Jeff Harmon were always the boyfriends.
Now, guys like me, however… Guys like me were no comparison, with their light-reddish tussled hair, dorky interests, lanky stature, and tendency to care too much. Guys like me were always the best friends.
As much as I hated Jeff Harmon for everything he'd done to Danny and everything he was about to get back at the snap of his fingers, I prayed that he'd show up tonight. I prayed that he'd make Danny happy, because, after all, I would've done anything to make her happy.
Sometime around ten o'clock, my car slowed to a stop at the curb of Danny's house. I had on a blue pinstriped button-down shirt and black slacks. Lying on the passenger seat beside me, there was a bouquet of white daisies; they had always been her favorite.
Despite all the preparation that would go to waste, before I brought my gaze up to the house, I silently hoped to God that he had already picked her up. As much as I would've loved to be even her back-up date, I couldn't bear to see her heart crushed all over again.
Finally, I forced myself to glance up. Only one light in the entire house was on; it was hers, and through the venetian blinds covering her window, I could see that one of her old black-and-white movies was playing on the television screen.
The bastard hadn't shown.
I pulled the keys out of the ignition, grabbed the bunch of flowers, and headed up to Danny's front door. I pressed the doorbell twice and waited with one hand in the pocket of my slacks and her white daises in the other.
For about a minute and a half, I waited on the stoop, rocking back and forth on my feet. There was no answer at the door as my breath rose in clouds around my mouth. I knew she was home alone. Danny didn't have any siblings, her father had moved out years ago, and her mother was very committed to her job as a lawyer. More often then not, Danny was the only one at her house.
Finally, the door swung open to reveal my best friend. She was wearing a black halter dress with white trim. On her feet were simple black flats. Her mascara had run and was slightly smeared underneath her eyes, but it was dry now, as though she had finished crying hours ago.
However, upon seeing me standing on her doorstep with a dozen or so flowers in my hand, her eyes began to water again. She threw her arms around me for the second time that day, but this time she pressed her face into my shirt and stayed there. I hesitantly brought my hand up to smooth her hair.
"Go ahead, say it," she murmured into my shirt. Her body trembled a bit in my arms.
"Say what, Danny?" I whispered.
"Say I told you so."
I shook my head and pulled her closer to me. "Never," I told her. "I wanted to be wrong about him. The last thing I wanted to see was you hurt like this; I told you that."
Danielle took a step back, heaved a breath, and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She then looked up at me and let out a weak laugh. "What're you doing here, anyway, Aaron?"
I smiled and raised my hand to her face, wiping the make-up from her cheek. "I'm here to take you to your favorite restaurant."
Through her tears, my stunning best friend grinned at me. She grabbed her jacket off of the arm-chair by the door, replaced it with the flowers, and we started toward my car.
While she clicked her seatbelt into place, she asked me something. "How'd you know he wasn't going to show, Aaron?"
I shrugged, raising my hands to the steering wheel. Peering through the windshield, I noticed that grey clouds were starting to roll in over the black sky. I turned the keys and pulled into the street.
"I didn't," I said. "Whether I thought he was going to show or not, I would've driven by here and made sure either way."
Danny's laughter reverberated in the empty house as she pushed the door open. I couldn't help but grin for two reasons; one being that her laugh was crazy and contagious and I loved the sound of it, and the other being that I was thrilled to see her happy. She seemed to have forgotten about Jeff Harmon for the time being.
"Aaron, thank you so much for tonight… The dinner, and the flowers and everything. It was incredible."
"Don't mention it, Danielle. I told you. I'm here whenever."
The smile reached her brown eyes as she looked up at me. "Hey, you wanna stick around for a while? Watch some TV? You don't have to be back just yet, do you?"
I pulled my sleeve up and took a glance at my watch. It was nearly 1:30 AM; the two of us had been out for hours. Nonetheless, I shrugged a shoulder and nodded. I would've done anything to make her happy. The longer I stayed here by her side, the longer I could distract Danny from the thoughts that told her she wasn't good enough.
The two of us collapsed on the couch as Danny picked up the remote and turned on the television. She flipped through the channels for a bit, but soon her eyes began to glaze over with sleep. She stopped on something random that neither of us really cared about, and the TV became the background noise to our conversation.
Danny ended up with her head on my lap. Still wearing her dress, her knees were bent and she had her legs pulled into her. Her shoes lay on the floor by the foot of the couch. It was only a matter of minutes before the conversation lagged and she drifted off.
I waited for her breathing to even out and become deeper so I didn't disturb her when I stood up. Then, quickly replacing my leg with a pillow, I rose from the couch and made my way through the dark living-room. Before I left, though, I grabbed a fleece blanket off the back of the recliner and covered Danny with it.
When I opened the front door, I saw that it had just begun to snow. The small flakes were barely visible against the night sky, but Danny's porch lights illuminated them. I braced myself for the cold, stepped out, and went to close the door.
"Aaron," Danny said, putting her hand on the door right before it was able to shut.
Startled, I whirled around. She grinned sleepily and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. The blanket I had put over her was now draped around her shoulders. She held it to her with clenched fists. "Trying to sneak out without saying goodbye?" she said, but her words were stifled with a yawn.
I half-smiled and looked down at my feet. "No, I just didn't want to wake you up."
"I know. I'm just kidding with you," Danny told me. The snow then caught her attention and she stared at it, seemingly deep in thought as she twirled a strand of hair around her finger.
"I'm gonna get going, okay, Danny?" I said.
"Hm?" Her gaze returned to me. "Oh. Oh, yeah. Alright. Listen, thanks again…"
I laughed. "You've thanked me a million times already."
"I know, but…" She shrugged. "You do everything for me, Aaron. You get me mint chocolate chip ice-cream when I'm not feeling well, and you've watched an endless amount of my favorite movies even though I know you're not the least bit interested in them. You tutored me all of last year in Chem because I sucked so much at it…" Danny took a slight pause and looked down, scanning the snow-dusted concrete with her eyes.
"You show up with flowers when my date bails…" My best friend looked up at me and forced a smile. "You even got punched in the face for me." Her hand went up to the bruise right below my eye. "Still really sorry about that, by the way," she added.
I let out a small laugh. "Don't worry about it," I said, covering her hand lightly with mine. Her brown eyes locked with my blue ones, and all traces of her smile disappeared.
I sensed that Danny was leaning toward me, but I was in such a daze that I couldn't process anything. My breath caught in my throat, and before I could prepare for it, the blanket that was clenched so closely around her fell to her feet and her lips brushed against mine.
My mind was completely blank for those three perfect seconds. However, as soon as she pulled away, all my doubts and worries came flooding back to me.
Danny tore her gaze away from mine and furrowed her eyebrows. Her expression revealed that she was almost as shocked as I was. The terrified look on her face showed that she had made a major mistake, and such an expression did everything to confirm my negative thoughts.
Danny was my best friend. She was perfect and breathtaking and stunning. I was no Jeff Harmon, and I would never be anything more than what I was. Therefore, in Danny's eyes, I'd never be more than her best friend.
I opened my mouth to say something, but Danny snapped back into motion before I had the chance. "G'night," she quickly murmured, picking the now snow-dusted blanket off the concrete. Then she retreated into her house and shut the door.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I almost expected a missed call from Danny. She was an early riser, sometimes getting up at the crack of dawn even when she didn't have school.
The main reason I expected the call, though, was because Danny never left something untouched. If there was something that needed to be cleared up, she did it as soon as possible. She didn't like the whole prospect of confusion and uncertainty.
I had expected a voicemail on my cell phone, informing me that she was sorry about last night; she had been tired and out of it and hadn't meant to do what she had done.
However, when I checked for any missed calls, I found none from my best friend.
The afternoon dragged by, bringing more snow. Finally, the clouded sky got darker and darker until night fell. Still, though, Danny hadn't called. I tried to think of the last time I'd gone a day without talking to her. I couldn't remember, but maybe that was just because I never put so much contemplation into it.
I knew I was thinking too deeply into things, but I couldn't help it. I just wanted to hear from her to make sure that everything between us was alright.
Needless to say, it took me about three hours of tossing and turning that night before I drifted off to an uncomfortable sleep.
My alarm clock was set for eleven o'clock on Sunday morning, but the monotonous beeping sound wasn't what woke me up. Instead of reaching for the snooze button, I painstakingly opened one squinted eye and grabbed my phone off the side-table. It buzzed in my hand until I finally opened it and brought it to my ear.
"Hello?" I said, trying to keep my voice from sounding groggy.
"Aaron?" came a voice from the other end of the phone.
"Yeah… Look, I'm really sorry to wake you, but we need to talk. Right away, because this whole thing is driving me insane."
I sat up in my bed, but didn't say anything. I waited instead.
"Can you meet me at the park? The one across the street from the strip mall on Rosland?"
"Yeah, of course," I replied. I tossed the blankets off of me and climbed out of bed. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
After hanging up the phone, I got ready as quickly as I was able to. I threw on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans, brushed my teeth, and washed my face.
As I dried my face with a towel, I glanced up at the mirror. I tried to shake the haze from my mind. Despite my exhaustion and anxiety, I made an effort to pull myself together. After all, I would've done anything for her.
From the swings to the bare-leafed trees, everything in the park was dusted in white. However, it had stopped snowing in the early hours of the morning. The sky was cloudless and the sun was just barely over the tips of the treetops when I arrived.
The park was dead silent and bereft of all people; only a few sets of footprints lined the covered walkway. I glanced around, searching for Danny. The park was small; I was bound to find her soon.
As I wandered toward the playground, I noticed someone sitting on the edge of the metal merry-go-round.
Underneath a black overcoat, she wore jeans and a beige-plaid scarf. Her brown hair was pulled back into a clip, but the shorter strands had escaped and were hanging about her face.
She hid her hands in her pockets as the toes of her shoes nudged at the snow beneath her feet. Despite her worried and pensive expression, she looked beautiful, as always.
"Danny?" My voice was barely audible, but she raised her stare anyway.
She stood up from the metal merry-go-round. She wrung her hands, looking for the correct words. I'd never seen my best friend so unsure of herself. "I'm sorry I didn't call sooner," she murmured. "I wanted to. I really wanted to clear this up. But I didn't know what to say, and I've spent the last twenty-four hours trying to sort out what happened."
"Danny, it's okay," I began. "You don't have to--"
But she shook her head and held up her hand, indicating that I shouldn't say anything else. "I do have to. I should've said this years ago, but I was so oblivious and clueless and stupid..." Her eyes had been scanning the snow beneath us, but she finally brought her gaze up to me. "I didn't see what was right in front of my face."
Danny bit her lip. Her facial expression was hard, as though she'd willed herself not to lose it, but I could see through it. She was scared.
"I've wasted all of this time, running after people who never even mattered in the first place. And you've just patiently followed along, making sure I would end up okay."
My eyebrows furrowed as I tried to understand.
Her voice suddenly had a hint of bitterness to it, as if she was angry, but the fashion in which she spoke suggested that her anger was meant for no one but herself. "And not once did I ever turn around and look at you and realize that you mean the world to me." My best friend brought her hand up and swiped the light hair off of my forehead. Then her hand fell to rest on my neck just below my jawline.
I became aware of the look on my face, however, when her arm dropped and her frustration was replaced with disgrace.
"Wow… Aaron, I…" she began. Danny took a step back from me, and as she did, the warmth that I felt on my skin disappeared with her. "I'm sorry," she murmured. "I've been so anxious about spilling everything out to you that" -she stuttered before continuing- "I didn't even realize the position I've just put you in."
She swallowed the tears in her throat and, for the first time since I'd arrived, she looked me straight in the eye. "You don't want this, do you?" Danny's voice was no more than a whisper. Even though her words were vague, I knew what she meant. This: her and I together, and more than just best friends.
Of course I wanted it. It had been all I wanted since eighth grade when we'd met in the nurse's office because I'd hit my head and she'd spilled soda all over her dress. I remember thinking, even through my throbbing headaches and blurred vision, that she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, covered in soda and all.
I'd stayed by her side all of these years in order to protect her. And when I couldn't protect her, I'd stayed by her side to lesson the blow of things. But, although the thought of this situation was always numbed with doubt, it'd always been in the forefront of my hopes.
The more I thought about how important this was to me, though, the less my muscles would respond. I couldn't say anything; the words were caught in my throat, and I was unable to force them out.
Danielle finally interpreted my silence as a sign that she had been right; I didn't want this.
She nodded and looked down at her feet. Danny tried to swallow the tears in her throat again, but this time it didn't work. They reached her eyes anyhow, and despite her efforts to appear rigid, one left a streak on the side of her face. It drove me over the edge.
I'd seen Danny cry countless times, but not once had I ever been the one to cause it. To see her like this, especially at my liability, was terrible. I loved her, and I would've done anything to make her happy.
Danny tried to turn and walk away, but I grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her toward me. In one single motion, her lips collided with mine and, with that kiss, I tried to tell her everything that my failed words couldn't.
My hand on the side of her face told her that I cared about her more than anything on the face of this earth, my arm around her waist told her that I'd protect her from anything I could, and the intensity I kissed her with told her that she'd been wrong; of course I had wanted this.
When we broke away, there was nothing to say to one another. Everything had already been established, and we left with the silent understanding that, after years of pointless doubt and hesitation, we were together.
I got in my old Sedan. As I started the ignition and pulled out of the snowy parking lot, I found myself unable to think of anything but her. I found myself unable to wait until the next morning when I'd pick her up for school and get to see the smile reach her eyes.
Maybe I was whipped. Hell, there wasn't a better word to describe what I was. But I didn't necessarily care about that, or the title that came with it. After all, I would've done anything to make her happy.