A/N: I get that this probably sucks REALLY BAD. Which, I think, is why I'm submitting it as it is for further review. Please review and tell me what you think. Since I have an urge for self abuse today.

A thousand girls can run around saying that they want a guy to complete them, and only half of them really mean it. Half of those girls are truly lonely, and half of THOSE girls can fix their loneliness. To even further half this, most of these girls aren't even ready for a guy, because they can't control their hormones. Half of the girls who can are still too young. You can halve and halve and halve until you get down to the one girl who actually deserves happiness, who really deserves to have a happy life with a guy that completes them.

I will freely admit that I am not that girl. I probably don't deserve a guy to make me happy. I have too much crap going on in my life to have anyone involved. There's too much conflict to leave room for happiness.

But the wonderful thing about being lonely? It's so easy to hide it. It's so easy to pretend to be happy and let everyone guess as to why you choose to be by yourself. Nearly everyone thinks you're insane. You can always be too peppy and too happy. You can be overly perky when everyone else is dull and quiet. You can choose to stand out against the crowd, or you can choose to blend into the background. You can be whatever you want when you're lonely. After all, you are your only friend.

I chose to be overly obnoxious and stand out against the crowd. I chose to be peppy and annoying and overly friendly. Strangely, it made me even more of a loner. But that was always fine by me. I enjoyed being lonely. I enjoyed being by myself. It was easier when you didn't have to worry about anyone but yourself.

I tapped my boot on the ground as I sat at the lunch table by myself. Students milled around me, getting lunch and sitting by friends. No one sat at my table, making me feel like a social pariah. I had to smile. I always did. Even when it felt like a grimace on my face. No one would care that I was by myself. They'd always walk past, thinking I was waiting for someone. I guess I had everyone fooled.

I watched them all, smiling at those who dared glance at me until they looked away. I watched them interact with one another. Laughing and smiling in earnest. Some glared at their plates, and others argued with their friends.

I wished I had friends.

But that was a fleeting thought. Friends never lasted long. All they had to do was meet my dad. They could never know the truth. In fact, the only person who did was Gwen, an online friend of mine. She was a sweetheart. In fact, she supposedly went to this school. I'd never met her in person, though. I told her it would be social suicide. I was the school freak. She'd only laughed and said she didn't think that was possible.

Little did she know.

I glanced around and slipped my cell phone out of my pocket to check it. I smiled when I saw I had a text message from her.

Gwen:

"Meet me at the coffee shop after school?"

I sighed, brushing a strand of fire red hair behind my ear. She was always wanting to meet me, even when I kept telling her it was social suicide. I licked my lips in contemplation before sighing.

Ian:

"Not on your life, Stephanie."

I smiled as I teased her. She said her full name was Gwendolyn, but I always said that her nickname reminded me of Gwen Stephanie constantly.

Gwen:

"Fine. I better have an IM when I get home."

Always worried about me like usual. She knew how it was at my house. She'd been left hanging more than a few times when things had gotten bad. But she knew what it was like on a personal level, too. She'd never told me what exactly happened in her home, but she'd told me it wasn't pretty.

I texted her a response, telling her that I would, before shoving my disposable phone back into my pocket. God knows my father would never pay for a real cell phone, let alone let me keep one. That was like living a pipe dream.

I glanced around the cafeteria again. It was amazing how many people could look at me and stare, but never come to speak to me. It was amazing how many of them would look guilty after I smiled at them. What did they have to feel guilty about? It's not as if I had gone up to them to talk and they had publicly rejected me. It was just a smile.

An ignored smile, but a smile none-the-less.

Heaving what appeared to be a "well what are you going to do" sigh, I stood from my place at the table, my combat boots squeaking loudly against the linoleum floors. I straightened out my highlighter orange shirt and pulled slightly at my lime green skinny jeans before I wrinkled my nose and thought "screw it". Grabbing my bag from the floor, I turned to leave.

And promptly ran into some random guy.

"Ow," I complained mildly, "You'd certainly make a good wall."

"So the freak actually speaks?" I heard someone snicker behind the wall of flesh I had just smacked into. I wanted to frown, but I decided to take it all in stride.

"Why yes, I was born with functioning vocal chords like much of the human population," I answered brightly, flashing a megawatt smile.

The wall of flesh chuckled slightly, whether at my response, at his friend's reaction, or what, I didn't know. The only thing I was made aware of was the fact that the giant wall of flesh moved out of my way and gestured mockingly for me to move through. I simply kept my grin plastered on my face and walked away perkily... that is, until his friend decided to stick out his foot and trip me.

And then I fell. Hard.

I let out a cry of pain as I fell on my almost non-existent chest. Key word: almost. I had enough there to make it an extremely painful impact, and my hands did little more than dig into the sensitive flesh. Instead of letting my anger flash at the jerk, I simply took a deep breath and let out a small "ow", before pushing myself up to my knees and pretending to rub my shoulder as my chest stung with pain.

"What's the matter, freak?" the wall's friend asked me, his voice disdainful and mocking. I didn't let my smile fall once.

"Nothing is the matter," I said back in my sweetest tone with absolutely no sarcasm. I could practically feel his sneer as he stared at me, but I wouldn't let my pain or my anger show. If they didn't know they got to you, they would eventually quit.

I only let my smile grow as I got to my feet and started to walk away... then I felt someone grab hold of my backpack. I felt my smile fade slightly as my heart skittered in my chest, fear entering the equation. I didn't mind the mental, and sometimes physical teasing. It was unavoidable. Usually it happened in small groups with the kids at school- usually one student sometimes accompanied by a friend. But this was a group of at least four kids, all of them towering over my short, toothpick frame.

I swayed backward, trying to keep my balance so that I didn't fall again. I turned slightly to look at the Wall, fighting to keep my megawatt smile on my face.

"Can I help you?" I asked, my voice hardly even straining when I answered. His face was twisted into a lascivious sneer, and I felt my throat tighten slightly. I knew that look.

His sneer turned into a mocking grin. "I'm sure I could think of a few things you could help me with."

My smile fell from my face with alarming speed. My heart rate picked up, but I kept my face carefully blank. He already knew that he had gotten to me, but he didn't need to know the full extent. "No." Keep it simple. Don't let him hear the pounding of your heart through your chest. Basic survival.

His nose wrinkled as his smile grew dark and frightening. I didn't like the odd glow in his eyes. I didn't like how his gaze swept up and down my body, pausing on key places. I especially didn't like how he took a step forward, invading my personal space. What I didn't like even more than that was how his friends had crowded me, making it impossible for me to move away.

I felt my eyes tighten and I fought to keep the smile on my face. Or was I fighting to even smile anymore? I had no idea. All I knew was the painful beating of my heart in my chest as fear filled my body with adrenaline. I knew the look in his eyes all too well. I had seen it almost every day for the last ten years of my short, seventeen years of life. It was bad enough when it was him, but I had no urge to let myself be victimized by someone like the Wall or his friends. I was already a statistic. I didn't want to be another one.

I tried to will myself to knee him in the groin. I tried to will myself to do anything- but I was too conditioned. My body and mind had been taught not to fight back. It was always so much worse when I fought back. My body told me that if I just went along, at least it would be over soon. I felt my lips purse together in a tight smile as I struggled to keep tears from filling my eyes.

I was scared, so scared.

His hand reached out behind my neck and I felt one of his friends shove me into him. The hand around my neck was uncomfortably tight. His hands were clammy and they were digging into my skin. I felt like I would have bruises. His mouth closed toward mine. My eyes widened in fear and I tried to pull away, but his hand cut into my neck. I want to scream. Every single part of me wanted to scream. I had to scream!

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, nononono!

"What the fuck are you guys doing?"

The voice cut through the tiny tense bubble that they had created. The voice was like an angelic chorus of, well, angels. I wanted to sing. I wanted to cry out in pure, unadulterated joy.

The hand around the back of my neck loosened, released, and moved away. Then it shoved me, sending me sprawling across the linoleum, landing hard on my almost nearly nonexistent ass. I grimaced, propping myself up on my backpack. I tried to do a mental check, wondering if I was truly ok, but my mind was still high from the adrenaline. It was still intoxicated by fear. Once the joy of being saved had passed, everything had come rushing back. It had only been one person. One person couldn't save me from a group of- I looked up to count- five kids.

"That's none of your fucking business, Bruce," the Wall's friend snarled at my savior. Bruce. I almost laughed at the name, but I behaved myself. It's not like my name was much better anyway. I tried not to let the hysterical bubble of laughter escape me. There was no need to let anyone know just how much this all effected me.

I heard, rather than saw, Bruce take a step toward me. I felt his presence on my right hand side. It was warm, reassuring. I'd never once felt that before and it was as startling as it was comforting.

"It's not?" he replied, his voice a low growl. I wanted to thank him a thousand times for saving me. I wanted to get up and hug him and have him take me away from here and marry me. He was my savior. He was my savior. But I couldn't move, my eyes were still caught on the group of boys who had practically assaulted me. They had moved into a 'v' formation with the Wall in the center, his mouthy friend to the left of him from where I was sitting.

The friend curled his lip at Bruce, his fists clenching in violent adolescent anger- the kind that was formed from false justification. "Last time I checked, you wanted nothing to do with this piece of trash." Even though I knew I shouldn't let them, the words stung, and they stung deep.

"And that somehow means you can pick on her?" Ouch. Way to make the girl on the floor feel wanted.

The Wall scoffed and looked down at me with a sneer, still talking to Bruce. "Why does it even matter to you?"

I just wished they would go, but unfortunately, the group mentality seemed to be giving them bravery, and they were all too ready to start another fight if they thought they could get away with it. To make it worse, the Wall kept staring at me like he would like to take a large, painful bite out of me.

"What's going on over here?" the sound of the vice principal's shrill voice caught everyone's attention. It tore the Wall's gaze from me and I was able to scramble to my feet just in time before she entered the tight, tense little ball we'd created.

The group of boys instantly relaxed, letting smiles slide across their faces, like I'd seen dozens of other kids do whenever an authority figure walked up to find out what was going on. "Nothing, ma'am. Josh was only asking Thanny to homecoming when she tripped. We were trying to help her up when this kid came over and pushed her down again. We were about to teach him not to pick on girls," the Wall's- Josh's- friend said.

Mrs. Alderman sniffed, brushing a strand of her perfectly coifed hair back from her face. Her short and stocky build and stern face gave everyone she was a brisk woman with a no-nonsense attitude. Unfortunately, she appeared to have a penchant for stupidity.

"Bruce, I'm appalled! I thought you were above such behaviors," she turned to level the group of five with a glare also, "and I know the bunch of you know better than to start a fight on school grounds."

The group did their best to look apologetic, which, to me, looked entirely fake, but she seemed to buy every second of it. It made me sick to my stomach. I wanted to scream that they were telling lies, but my throat was closed tight. I could feel Bruce's accusing eyes on me, but I didn't turn to look at him. I couldn't. I was too filled with shame.

There was a moment of awkward silence before Mrs. Alderman came over to me and grabbed me by the elbow. At first I was startled, but she only tightened her grip on me when I tried to pull away. She didn't seem to register the look of fear in my eyes as she spun me around to take a look at my savior, who was not accused of being my attacker.

"Mr. Hartmann, Ms. McCaslin, if you'll please accompany to my office," Mrs. Alderman said, her voice tight, and her grip on my arm even tighter.

I dared to look up at Bruce, just to see what he looked like so maybe I could find him to thank him later. I was startled by what I did see. I had expected him to be some large guy from the football team, or someone who could instill fear in Josh the Wall's group, but instead I saw a guy who was tall, but lanky. Any muscle definition he had was lean. He was almost scrawny.

But even though he didn't exactly scream "I can beat the crap out of you with my bare fists", something about him did scream that he was dangerous- like he was a lose cannon. There was something wild about his eyes. His dark-brown hair fell into them, partially hiding the blue-green orbs. The color was almost startling in it's intensity, and it was only made more pronounced by the dark rings surrounding the outer rims of his eyes. It was like staring into the eyes of an animal.

I shivered, goose bumps rising all over my arms. The look I had gotten hadn't been friendly. In fact, it looked as if he now wanted to take a chunk out of my hide, too, but in a less lascivious manner than had Josh the Wall. In fact, it looked like he wanted to punch me across the face. I looked away hurriedly, guilt showing plainly on my face. I didn't even try to smile. There was no way anyone could smile after that- not even a smile born of stress. My face just felt frozen.

Then we were tugged along, Mrs. Alderman dragging us by our arms, holding us on either side of her. Students parted in the halls, letting us pass by- all of them staring. I could tell what they were thinking. It wasn't like I couldn't hear them talking about it, too. They were wondering what had happened. Bruce wasn't a guy who got into fights, especially with someone as unimportant as the local freak.

On the way to the office, my mouth turned up into the barest grimace. The vice principal's grip was too tight on my arm, and I kept tripping over my combat boots. My back pack kept thumping uncomfortably against my hips and knocking me off balance. I just wanted this walk of shame to end.

And it did. It hadn't had the outcome I had expected, either. Bruce, instead of outing the group of five guys, actually admitted to pushing me. I actually turned to look at him when he said that, but he only stared straight ahead, refusing to look at me. Mrs. Alderman hadn't been paying attention to me at the time, so she didn't see my look of complete incredulity. In fact, she didn't even acknowledge my presence the entire time I was sitting there. At the end of the "mediation" session, she gave Bruce a week's worth of detention and then let us both go, escorted back to class by an office intern.

The rest of the day went by like I didn't even exist.

Thank you for reading!

-thelastwaffle