"So, Angie, what did you mean by 'holding back the romance'?" Dion demanded, flopping into the chair next to Angie.

She glanced up from the tattoo pattern she was drawing. "Hello, Dion. I meant that's you're quite deliberately keeping yourselves from falling in love. You take her out to dinner, you take her to the movies, you've had 'meet the parents' nights, you've had movie nights, you take long walks in the park, you do everything but just give in and snog already!"

"Snog?" he wondered.

"Make out," she translated with a grin, enjoying his expression. "English expression."

"Ohhhh. I was always more interested in chemistry anyways," he said absently. A minute later, he realized what had popped out of his mouth. "Oh! Uh, so, how do I 'inject romance' into our relationship? I sound too much like a cheap magazine," he noted.

"Ask her out on a date, you idiot," Angie said with a hearty laugh.

Dion nodded and got up. As he walked away, he could have sworn he heard her mutter the word 'chemistry' under her breath.

()()()()

Mr. Montague's fist slammed into the side of Alyssa's stomach and she gritted her teeth. Her black-and-blue rose tattoo would hide the bruises on her waist and stomach, but the pain was intense. He hit her again, in the cheek-bone this time. She made a mental note to buy more concealer. She was running out of the right shade to cover the marks on her arms and face. Maybe, she reflected, it was a bad idea to let Dion persuade her to let her hair-dye wash out.

Her father grabbed the scissors and came at her. Alyssa hoped that Dion would be late enough in picking her up to meet Damien, Angie, and the twins that she would have time to bandage her cuts and cover her bruises. Mr. Montague flipped the scissors open and grabbed Alyssa by the arm, lifting her blouse. He pulled it up to reveal Alyssa's tattooed midriff. Alyssa clenched her fists, tightened her abs, and prayed that she fainted from blood loss as she had done on so many other evenings.

()()()()

Dion locked the car, approached Alyssa's house and tapped the door. He heard a thump and somebody running. Somebody larger ran too and then there was a loud thud. Seconds later, Mr. Montague opened the door.

Dion narrowed his eyes and said shortly, "I'm here for Alyssa."

"She's not here," her father answered smoothly. Unfortunately, Alyssa chose that moment to stumble into the front hall.

"Dionysus!" she exclaimed just before passing out.

Dion shoved her father aside and hurried over to pick her up. She was like a rag doll. "She's not here, is she?" he muttered, lifting her and unbuttoning her bloodied white shirt to check the cuts on her stomach. Her bra was pink with orange hearts on it, he noted in the back of his mind.

"Don't touch my daughter!" Mr. Montague shouted, just before he clocked Dion in the forehead.

Dion gritted his teeth and carried her out of the house. The neighbors were peering out of their windows.

Mr Montague grabbed the back of Dion's shirt and began to pull. Needless to say, a determined, athletic teenage boy and fat, scared, middle-aged man aren't exactly well matched in strength. "He's kidnapping my daughter," he bawled as Dion continued to walk without the slightest pause. "Help! Kidnapper! Kidnapper!"

That was all it took for the neighbors to hurry out. Dion groaned and tenderly placed Alyssa in the backseat of his parents' car. Her father took the chance to fling himself after her. Dion picked him up by the scruff of the neck and dumped him on the front lawn.

The neighbors were coming after him with butcher knives now, he saw. Oh, joy. "Look, people, the girl needs medical attention." He ducked the particularly aggressive swing of a knife. "Hey, watch it! For the love of heaven, would you quit trying to decapitate me? Do I look like a kidnapper?"

"More like a gangster," one of them accused.

"What?" Dion demanded, looking down at himself. "What are you...Oh. Oh."

It clicked right then. Michael Montague was white as snow, just like the rest of the crowd. Dion was not. White people, or at least, racist white people, link black people to gangs, rapes, robberies, etcetera.

Alyssa summed it up quite efficiently as she opened her eyes. "Oh, damn."

Dion spun to look at her. "Allie!"

Alyssa sighed and reached for the open car door. "Why are you trying to kill my friend?" she asked her neighbors courteously.

"Oh, so that's what they're doing. Oh, and button up your blouse."

One of the neighbors, a chubby woman in a pink sombrero, turned and said shrilly, "He was kidnapping you, honey!"

"No, Mae-Mae, he wasn't. Dion is my friend," she enunciated slowly, as if speaking to an infant. "Dion is nice. Dion is coming and getting into the car right now."

Dion shut the door for her and slid into the front. As they sped away, he said shortly, "We're going to the hospital."

"Okay," she said readily.

After a few minutes, he pulled over on a side street and twisted around in his seat to hold out his arms. She climbed into his lap and snuggled against him, listening to his heart.

"So, he does that pretty often, does he, Allie?"

She smirked against the soft, worn fabric of his shirt. "Did you think my tattoos were for decoration?"

"Very pretty decoration, but yes, I assumed they were decoration," he mumbled into her hair. "You scared me, passing out like that. You still bleeding, love?"

She sat up properly and peeked under the shirt she still hadn't buttoned up. "Not much."

"Good. I'm taking you to the emergency room and then to my house, okay, Allie, honey?"

She nodded. As she scooted into the seat beside him, she moaned, "And I had to be wearing my most embarrassing bra today."

Dion smiled and said thoughtfully, "Well, I don't know. I kind of like it."

She yelped with dismay. "Dionysus Montague, I'm going to kill you. Dead. Really, really, really dead. Preferably a death and castration all in one go."

"I always knew you wanted to get into my pants," he teased as he carefully pulled into the hospital lot. "Are you sure you're okay?"

She lifted one fist to hit him and promptly passed out. Dion eyed her for a moment before lifting her into his arms.

()()()()

As Dion carried Alyssa into his house, hours later, his mother hurried to meet him. She stopped short when she saw the little redhead in his arms.

"What happened?" she gasped.

"Well, mom," he began, as he placed her on the couch. "It was the most interesting date I've ever been on."


Thank you for reading, thank you for reviewing, thank you for reading everything I've worked on so far... and the last two were hints.