Disclaimer: Mine, mine, mine. :)
P.S. This is set in modern times! JS.
Borders of Protection
Ethan focused on the man in front of him. He grinned easily as he wiped off the sweat from his brow. The training room was usually cold during the winter but he'd been working out for the last two hours. His body heated the atmosphere around him.
"What?" The man across him taunted, raising an eyebrow. "Already worn out?"
"Maybe that's you, old man." He shot back as he straightened and let out a breath.
His trainer smiled, his dark eyes twinkling mischievously. He moved closer to his student, holding his gaze. His coach was about in his late 50's and yet, he was the best in the business.
Without warning, Ethan threw a solid punch at the coach's face. The coach deflected it with his own hand and hit the younger man in the stomach soundly.
Ethan coughed slightly but smirked nonetheless. He then turned slightly, locking the man's hand in his grasp. He kneed his coach in the gut. His teacher growled and strongly pulled the boy down on the hard mat.
Ethan used his legs to push his trainer looming above him and gave him a kick. He jumped up and dodged a few punches aimed at him.
The fight seemed to go on forever like this; punches and kicks were thrown but neither getting close to defeating the opponent.
Ethan needed to win this time. As he ducked to give his coach a good kick in the stomach, his eyes trailed the hands of his coach, ready to use them to his purpose.
When his master tried to take a blow to his jaw, Ethan caught the fist and twisted his arm.
The man gave a grunt as he struggled to get out of his student's embrace.
"Give up?" Ethan said hoarsely, grinning again. Sweat trickled down to his well-built chest. His white shirt was sticking to his body and his dark hair was plastered to his forehead.
"Do not lower your guard, Ethan." He replied solemnly. His coach then attempted to elbow his stomach severely but Ethan stopped it midway, his hand firmly gripping the elbow.
"What was that?" He said cockily, his muscles aching slightly as his opponent continued to struggle.
"You missed this." And then he was hit in the shin painfully. A little surprised, Ethan loosened his hold, allowing his trainer to slip away. His master then pounded his chest continuously.
Ethan narrowed his green eyes and fought back, determined. He landed a good punch on the master's face and kicked him straight in the stomach. He circled around him and booted his master's back.
However, his coach trapped his elevated foot and was about to bring him down on the mat (and pin him securely) when the heavy oak doors creaked open.
"Oh, for goodness's sake." His trainer grumbled, still holding his foot. He glared at Ethan who sighed helplessly.
A girl about his age walked in, hands in her sweater pockets. She was wearing a wool sweater and leggings matched with comfortable looking boots. She had a leather bag slung across her shoulder. Snow decorated her red hair and her face was flushed.
"Ethan! There you are!" She beamed, waving at him. Sunlight entered the room through the doors. "I've been looking all over for you!" She walked over to him quickly, her leather bag jumping with the movement.
"Morning, Emma." Ethan said, smiling.
"Good morning, Jared." Emma nodded to the trainer pleasantly, her blue eyes on the old man's face.
"My lady." He returned, letting go of Ethan's foot immediately as he bowed slightly. "May I ask—?" He opened his mouth but the girl already had her focus on the teenage boy.
"There were men outside and they told me I couldn't enter!" She huffed, pouting like a petulant child.
"That's because you can't disturb us." Jared muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes.
She didn't seem to notice him. She was already ranting off to her friend. "I don't understand! You're my bodyguard and I can visit you whenever I like!" Her eyes brightened at that. Ethan was patiently listening to her, his arms crossed.
"Emma, when I have training you can't just barge in." He said gently, patting her red head softly. The snow was melting slowly, causing her hair to be damp.
"That's not fair! What if I was in trouble and I needed your help?" she defended, scowling. "Who made such a stupid rule anyway?"
Ethan pointed to a very grumpy Jared. "He doesn't like it when my training is interrupted."
"Exactly why I placed the men outside, my lady." Jared explained hastily. There was no need for her father to march in here and shoot him down. "Ethan may be a very skilled fighter, but he still needs the practice to be able to be the perfect protector."
Emma had her mouth in a pout again. Her face was a mix of anger and confusion. She wasn't sure whether to argue with Jared or agree with him. "It's just that—it's just I've been cooped up inside with my tutors," She made a face, "the whole morning and I missed you, Ethan." She sniffled slightly. "And my teacher in foreign languages threatened to fail me because I was doodling on my moleskine."
Ethan grinned despite himself. He really loved this girl. Ever since his father shipped him off to serve their family. He was about 11 years old when he met her. She was a year younger than him and he was a fit of nerves when they were introduced.
"Emma, could you please come down here?" Eloise Guevaro shouted from the foot of the glass staircase. She smiled warmly at a young Ethan who was standing stiffly in his scratchy suit. His father made him wear it. It was summer, too.
"Are you nervous, Ethan?" She asked him, bending down to meet his green eyes. Her fiery red hair was placed in a neat bun with strands that framed her thin face. For someone so important, Eloise was wearing a simple summer dress and a beige shawl to cover her shoulders.
To answer her question, he shook his head. However, his insides rebelled against it. He felt his fingers shake slightly so he curled his fingers into fists.
"That's a brave boy." She complimented, taking his hand. He blushed a little. Imagine, the queen of the country holding his hand! "You know, your father was very brave as well. He protected me until I grew up." Her eyes grew distant. "This time it's different, isn't it? Because you're almost the same age as my daughter. Your father was thrice my age." She explained, ruffling his slicked back hair.
Before she could speak, footsteps were heard from the stairs.
"Ah, so the little princess decides to join us." The queen murmured, sounding amused. She stood up and smoothed her dress. "Emma?"
Ethan gulped. His father had told him that all first-born sons of the Oliver family were destined to give up his life for the daughters of the Guevaros. Usually the Guevaros had only one or two children during every generation.
But what if Ethan hated the girl? How was he supposed to protect her if he detested her?
He took a deep breath as a young girl stepped out of the shadows. Her skin had the same color as the porcelain jar beside him, aside from the freckles that were scattered on her skin. She was wearing a colorful skirt and a sleeveless blue shirt. They were both stained with dirt. Her hair, red as her mother's, was plaited into a very long braid. She had no shoes and her feet were very muddy with grass sticking to it. Her lower lip was trembling.
"Emma!" Her mother cried, staring at the mess on the floor. "Where are your shoes? What have you been doing?"
The girl mumbled something like "in the yard" and "tried to copy the dog".
Eloise massaged her temples and took a deep breath. "We'll talk about this later, love." She then nudged her daughter forward. "Emma, meet Ethan."
Emma turned the brightest red as her blue eyes met his green ones. "Hello." She whispered. Her hands were knotted tightly in front of her.
"Good morning." He said respectfully, trying to smile but failing miserably.
"My mother-" Emma looked up to her mother her gestured her to go on. "—says that you will be my bodyguard from now on?"
He nodded, trusting himself to say nothing.
Her auburn eyebrows bunched up in puzzlement. "How is that possible when we're the same age? How can you protect me?"
"I just can." Was his clipped reply. He held her gaze. "It's what I've been born to do." He recited.
"Ethan will begin his training tomorrow morning, love. But for today, why don't you show him around?" Her mother ordered kindly.
"He'll be living with us then?" The little girl asked.
Ethan kept his hands at his side, forcing himself not to react. He will miss his home. His family. His brothers and sisters. But this was his home now.
"Okay, then." She said and moved closer to him, giving him a small smile. "Would you like to see the yard, Ethan?" She giggled a little as the unfamiliar name rolled off her tongue.
"So you can play again and get your clothes ruined?" He said, already knowing the ulterior motive. "Won't you get in more trouble?"
She immediately clapped a hand to his mouth. "What was that? You really want to see the yard? Okay! Bye, Mother!" She covered up lamely, smiling innocently.
She grabbed his hand and began to drag him forward.
"We will talk about your behavior later, yes?" Eloise called out, smugly so.
Emma slumped slightly. "Yes, Mother."
"I actually do want to see your yard. Your house is fifty times bigger than mine and even more beautiful." Ethan said to cheer her up.
With that she brightened up and pulled him to their humongous backyard.
Later that night when Emma had showered and so had he, they were seated on her carpeted bedroom floor. In a span of less than 20 hours, they were already best friends.
She poked his shoulder. He grinned. "What?"
"It's fun having you around. I've never played tag with anyone before except Gravity." She smiled back, thinking of her border collie asleep somewhere.
"I like it here too." He leaned into the softness of her bed behind him.
"That's good." She replied, her voice sounding sleepy. "You've got to stay, okay? No leaving."
She reached for a pillow on her bed. She hugged it. "Say you'll stay and that you're not leaving."
"I'm staying and I'm not leaving." He repeated immediately, yawning.
"Good." She said, satisfied. "Let's sleep now." She climbed up on her comfy white bed.
He nodded and began to make for the door when he was pulled down on the bed with a poof. He turned a little red. "I—I can't—"
"The bed's big enough for the both of us. What's wrong?" She said as if it was the simplest thing in the world. "Good night, Ethan."
She squirmed her way into the thick covers and sighed contentedly. Ethan thought about waiting for her to fall asleep and walking back to his own room (which was on the same floor) before she noticed.
Emma seemed to be thinking the same thing because she said, "You promised no leaving."
And with that, his fate was sealed.
"I don't even understand why I need to learn 6 different languages! Can't I just use a translator?" Present-day Emma complained, her cheeks turning as red as her hair. She cut her famous long hair a few days ago to donate the hair to cancer patients. It was now a few inches past her narrow shoulders. Ethan liked it like that.
Jared looked bored, constantly rolling his eyes (when Emma wasn't looking).
"Maybe, my lady, if you weren't doodling in class, it would be easier for you." His teacher said bluntly.
"And Latin is a dead language! Why should I learn it?" She continued, ignoring Jared as usual.
"My lady, I really hate to bother you with your ehem, one-sided conversation with Ethan, but we really need to get back to practice."
With that, Emma stopped talking.
"That's right, my dear. The exit is that way." Jared pointed to the open door. Ethan could see a vein pulsing through his master's forehead. He was trying not to laugh. Jared was actually funny when he was trying to control his patience with the princess.
"I think you should go." Ethan said helplessly. He felt regret when Emma's face fell. "Before Jared pops a vein." He whispered in her ear.
She nodded. "Okay." She began to dejectedly walk away, dragging her feet. Then she sprang back and threw her arms around him. Ethan, though surprised, caught her at the last minute.
"Just kidding." She said softly, nuzzling her head into his shirt.
"E-Emma, I'm sweaty." He managed to say, shifting her in his arms easily. He could smell the lavender soap she used every morning and the lotion she applied on her freckled skin.
"Don't care." She murmured, wrapping her arms around his neck. "You still smell like you."
"This is really happening, now?" Jared grumbled. "All right, Your Highness. I must ask you to leave now. Ethan and I still have two hours to train." He, with his strength, tore a protesting princess from his student. Emma stumbled slightly and Ethan instinctively steadied her with his hand gripping her elbow.
"That was uncalled for, Jared!" She cried, her face a mask of dangerous anger. "I—"
"My lady, your Ethan has a duty to fulfill. And I understand that he is, yes, your bodyguard but for the moment his duty lies with me." Jared said cockily.
"Wait till I—" Emma retorted when Ethan's master cut her short. Ethan tried not to wince at what Emma could report to her father. Despite his faults and impatience, Jared was a good teacher.
"Your highness, out of the 24 hours in a day, you have him for the 20 hours and I only have the remaining."
Emma glared at him but understood his point. She stuck out her tongue. "Meanie."
"Very mature, Your Highness." Jared said under his breath. However, he looked victorious.
There was a silence as Jared waited for Emma to leave but she stayed on the mat, persistent.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" His teacher cried, exasperated.
"I've just decided that I'm not leaving."
"That's not allowed—"
"I don't care what you say." She put her nose in the air, like a true aristocrat. "I came to see Ethan and I will stay until you're finished."
Jared's face was pink with fury. He was ready to rip his hair out.
"Emma, you might get bored. Maybe it's better if you—" Ethan said concerned.
She gave him a flash of her gorgeous smile. "Don't worry about me! I'll be at the side, watching!" She patted her leather bag. "Everything I have to keep me entertained is here."
He absently tucked in a stray strand of red hair from her face. "Okay."
"Impossible. Absolutely impossible." Jared complained, cracking his knuckles. "Bloody aristocrats."
Suddenly, Jared went for Ethan's gut, his fist ready to cause serious damage. Ethan saw it coming and snagged his fist and at the same time, kneeing him.
Emma gave a startled cry as she stepped back. "What was that?"
His teacher slapped his face, hard. "Well done, boy. Good to see your eyes aren't glued to one thing."
"Don't slap Ethan!" Emma uttered, watching the left side of his face turn red.
Instead of hitting Jared back, he grinned, ready for training again. He rubbed his cheek. "Emma, I think it's time for you to sit down now."
She nodded a little (she only followed orders from Ethan) and scuttled to the edge of the training area and positioned herself for a show. She clapped her hands and cheered, "Go Ethan! Beat Jared!"
He took a sideward glance at her and Jared saw his opportunity to attack. A punch to his shoulder, a kick to his chest. He deflected both effortlessly.
"Focus, boy." Jared growled as they exchanged blows. "Don't let her derail you."
With that said, Ethan disciplined his senses and centered all his energy towards his training. He felt a little strange that she was watching him practice, since she was always busy with her studies.
But if he didn't concentrate, he would fall flat on his bum and that wouldn't be a good impression, would it? So he shut out her cheery voice that shouted his name and began to fight.
The sweat that had cooled off minutes ago was once again dripping down to his forehead and he could feel drops slide down his back.
Jared was playing the offense and he had to defend all his hits and jabs, making sure none touched his body. They circled around each other like vultures, ready to swoop down for the hunt.
"I won't go slow, Ethan." Jared warned, jogging a little in place.
"You don't have to, old man." He replied, his lips twitching.
And so for two hours, Ethan had his eyes trained on his master's frame, ready to jam his attacks away.
When he kicked away Jared's fist and fared to trip him, his coach smirked up at him from the floor. "Good job today."
Ethan felt his panting slow and his muscles relax. He ran a hand through his hair and wiped his face on his shirt. "Thanks."
"You can now entertain that bratty princess of yours." Jared spat out.
He chuckled good-naturedly. "Don't let her hear that. The King will have your head."
"Only a matter of time, eh?" He clapped his student on the back and proceeded to a chair with a towel draped on it. He snatched it and cleaned his face. "Don't be late for tomorrow's session." He began to walk away with the towel around his neck. His master also grabbed a cup of water from the dispenser. "And I'm making sure a whole army is guarding those doors next time."
Ethan laughed as he watched Jared leave the room without as much as a goodbye. When the door closed with a loud bang, he sauntered over to a sleeping Emma.
She was holding her black moleskine and a pencil. The notebook was open and he stared at it. It was a very rough sketch of him in a fighting position. It was breath-taking how she managed to captivate him every single time. She mumbled in her sleep.
He didn't want to wake her up but he didn't want to leave her. Ever.
He shook her carefully. "Emma, wake up. Training's over."
She slapped his hand away crankily and opened her blue eyes slowly. Then she closed it. "Did you win?"
"Of sorts, yeah." He replied, not really knowing what to say. He stooped down to her level.
Her eyes flew open and she beamed at him, looking proud. "Good. He's such an old grouch." She closed her notebook hastily and stuffed them in her leather bag.
"He's not that bad."
"Yes, yes he is." She scoffed, getting up. He offered his hand and she took it. He hoisted her up from the freezing floor. "Everyone knows we can't be separated."
She threw the strap of her bag over her shoulder. He gathered his things from one of the corners of the room: his dark blue coat, his water jug and a small towel.
Ethan dried his head and neck and drank the cool water. Emma thrust her hands into her sweater pockets. "Let's go, Ethan."
He obeyed and opened the door for them. He wore his coat, feeling the blast of the winter breeze fan his face. Everything around them was covered with blankets of white. Only the tall pine trees had managed to add a little green to the surroundings.
Emma moved closer to him and looped her arm around his. They strolled together towards her home, which was a five-minute walk from the training room.
"You didn't have to wait for me." He said, looking down on her red head.
"I wanted to!" She replied, sure of her answer. "It's not fair that you were assigned to me and I can't even see you."
"You have me after lunch." He answered, checking his watch. It was 11:45 am.
"My day started off badly, okay?" She blurted.
Ethan raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"The tutors were excessively annoying today. They kept pestering me to review for my upcoming exams." She glowered, sounding vexed.
"Yeah, well. They do that everyday." He spoke, wrapping an arm around her. She leaned into him. "What is it that's bothering you, truly?"
She met his sincere green eyes. "You promise not to tell? Because Father told me that it was a secret."
"You know I won't tell, Emma."
She burrowed her head into the right side of his body. "I don't want to say." Her voice came out muffled.
"You don't have to." He spoke tenderly.
"But I want to."
She looked up to him and flushed a slight pink. "Father is pressuring me to meet—meet guys for, um," She squeaked a little. "Marriage." She whispered the last word as if it would break down the world.
His heart stopped a little. This was going to happen, he told himself before. But he never believed it to actually come. Now here it was. How could he even give her away? To some spoiled prince nonetheless.
"I'm sure they'll all fall in love with you." He said, meaning it.
"That's not what I'm worried about." She continued, her arms around his torso and her face glued to his coat in embarrassment.
"Then what's there to worry about?" He said, squeezing her shoulders softly.
"When my mother got married, she released your father from her service, allowing other bodyguards to take his place."
He swallowed thickly. He could see where this was heading.
"I just—I can't comprehend the day when we say good-bye, Ethan. It can't happen." She said, sighing.
Before he could stop himself, he planted a kiss on her red hair. "It's going to be okay."
She hugged him harder. "Thanks, Ethan. You're the greatest."
They continued to walk in silence on the snow-covered pavement. Even now, he kept his eyes open for anything, anyone that could bring harm to her.
"I'm hungry." She said lightly. "I only had chocolate milk for breakfast."
"Your mother is going to scold you when the cook tells her that you didn't eat what he prepared." He said teasingly.
"Don't remind me." She groaned, facepalming herself.
"Maybe I can talk to her." He grinned. "The queen loves me."
"Not as much as I do!" She protested fiercely.
"Love you too, Emma." He said, his smile gentler.
"I bet you the cook will serve us corn soup for lunch." She said, laughing.
"I bet he'll serve pumpkin." He retorted.
"Or potato." She looked disgusted.
"Maybe eggplant." He said, scratching his chin.
"Carrot?" She recommended, her stomach rumbling.
He laughed at the sound. "Or lettuce."
"It has to be corn!"
And when they reached the backdoor of her humongous mansion, she took his hand and he held it, not ready to give her up yet.
"There you two are. I have steaming bowls ready for you in the kitchen." The cook said, ushering them in and hurriedly closing the door to block the cold gusts from entering.
"Sounds good." Emma said, rubbing her tummy. "What is it?"
She looked ready to barf. "Oh." She turned to him, her face morphing into a smile. "At least I have you to be with me."
That was the truth. And a promise he will never break.
A/N: So hello everybody! I found an old USB while digging through my stuff and when I plugged it into my laptop, I saw a BUNCH of old stories that I had forgotten about! Imagine my excitement!
I decided to post this one because I've always liked the story of a bodyguard. And because this story was the shortest one. I really like Ethan. And Emma is just the right amount of brat.
This story was done a year ago, I think. If I remember correctly.
That's pretty much it!
THIS IS COMPLETE, by the way.
Love you guys! X