I can't take credit for the plot behind this story. I was inspired by this adorable little story on Love Gives Me Hope (great site, great stories, though some are really heartbreaking) and I was bored with writing an essay for school so instead I put my precious little brainpower to this story. Enjoy!

"Hey, girlie, why don't you play with us?" he suggested. "He" was a six-foot-two, blond-haired, blue-eyed wrestler. He looked about 200 or so pounds. He fit right in with all the other buff losers at the party.

Why did I come here again? "My name's not Girlie, and I'm not interested," I snapped back. Oh right, 'cause I was bored.

I spun around, my dark hair whipping out nicely behind me, and started to walk away, but the giant caught my wrist with his huge, beefy hand and nearly crushed all my bones. I knew I'd have bruises for at least a week. And it was my writing hand too!

Screw boredom. Time to get outta here.

I tried to wrench my arm away. I failed. The guy's hand just squeezed mine even tighter and I swore I heard something pop. A streak of pain shot up my arm and I bit down hard on my lip to keep from yelling.

This would've been a good time to bust out some karate moves. Too bad I didn't know any. I told my parents that self-defense would come in handy one day, but they didn't believe me. Now, because of their stubbornness, I was forced to suffer.

Stupid parents and their stupid I-know-what's-best-for-you attitudes.

Fighting back tears, I breathed in deeply and steadied my voice. "Excuse me, but you're hurting my hand," I said pointedly. "Please let go."

The troll just grinned and stepped closer, totally invading my bubble. I could smell alcohol in his breath and nearly gagged. I wanted to vomit.

I looked around, desperate for an escape route. If I wasn't getting out of this situation, then I at least needed some fresh air, even for a second. I prayed silently, Please God, please let me live. I promise to go to church every Sunday and pray three times a day if you'll just help me out of this!

Nothing happened.

There was no way out, as far as I could tell, so I gave in to my fate and looked up. The giant was leering down my shirt, not that there was really much to leer at, and still cutting of any circulation I my arm. It was already dead numb. If he didn't let go soon, then he was probably going to make my arm useless forever.

I asked him again, "Would you please let go?"

He still didn't reply. He backed me into a dark corner. His head bobbed closer to mine, his free hand groping me harshly.

Revulsion rose in me. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried not to breathe too deeply as his breath blasted my face, but it was no use. The smell was too strong.

Oh God, was I going to be raped?

Then suddenly, a new voice burst in on the scene. "You heard her. Let her go."

My eyes snapped open and I lifted my head to see the giant snarling at a lean Asian boy. He looked to be about five-foot-eight, with dark floppy hair and determined eyes. His face was slightly tanned and very defined. While he wasn't buff and huge, his simple outfit of a plain white T-shirt and dark jeans outlined the lean muscle on his wiry body.

He also wore chunky glasses and a backpack – even though it was spring break – and was clearly not here for the party. I wondered who he was and what the heck he thought he was doing, confronting a wrestler so casually, as if he did this every day.

Though, for all I knew, maybe he did. Maybe he was one of those guys who had a hero complex and went around saving damsels in distress (though I was decidedly not a damsel, thank you very much, just a poor girl who happened to get herself into a very bad situation).

Well, beggars can't be choosers. I did need help, after all.

The Big White Hulk finally let me go, though he shoved me into the wall in the process. My back hit the wall hard, but I quickly pulled my head in. I didn't need a useless arm, and bruised spine, and a concussion.

My legs felt like jelly, all wiggly and crap, but I managed to stay standing, with the help of the wall. I leaned back gingerly, wincing in pain, and calmed myself as the Hulk faced off against Asian Hero Guy.

This was not going to be pretty.

"Mind your own business," the Hulk growled menacingly.

Asian Hero Guy just smiled pleasantly. "Ah, but it is my business. I don't tolerate this kind of behavior under my roof."

The Hulk sniggered, "What kinda behavior?"

"forcing yourself on girls." And then Asian Hero Guy dropped his backpack, tensed, and kicked the Hulk in the face.

That's right. In. The. Freaking .Face.

Hero: 1. Hulk: 0.

I gaped in awe. I mean, here was this guy, six inches shorter than this other guy, and yet he managed to kick him in the face? My legs protested at being raised higher than my waist! And here Asian Hero Guy had done it as if it was a piece of cake.

Which was kinda hot.

I mean, which girl doesn't daydream about a cute guy coming to her rescue and totally beating up the bad guy? It's just so sweet!

The Hulk, stunned at being bested to quickly and so effortlessly, dropped like a boulder. His nose was bleeding – probably broken – and he hadn't even moved.

Hero Guy picked up his backpack and rushed to me. His face creased with worry as he looked at my hand. His eyes flicked up to my face and back down as he asked, "Are you okay? Wait, that's a stupid question. Does it hurt? No, that's stupid too. Is it broken?"

I cracked a smile at his rambling. "It sure feels broken. I thought I was gonna lose feeling in it forever."

"Nah, your hand should be fine after a few weeks," he replied. He examined my hand and commented, "He didn't actually squeeze that hard. He only bruised you."

"No way. It hurt like hell."

Hero Guy finally looked me in the eyes and kept his gaze there. "Bruises hurt too."

I stared into his dark eyes mutely, for some reason wishing I had the key to his thoughts. I sucked in a deep breath and gasped. My body suddenly ached all over, but especially my side.

I looked down and used my uninjured hand to tenderly lift the edge of my shirt. Bruises ran along my side from the Hulk's groping. I dropped my shirt.

"No wonder it hurts to breathe," I said. "Good thing they're only bruises." I gave a small smile, but he wasn't smiling back. Hero's face had turned stormy.

"Bruises hurt too," he repeated fiercely. "I should've beaten him up more, that bastard." He turned, ready to abuse the Hulk – still on the ground, I noted; must've been some kick – but I gripped his strong hand with my unharmed one and pulled him back.

"It's okay," I murmured soothingly. "I'm fine."

"No, you're not!"

"I think I would know how I feel."

"I think we both know that you could be lying."

We stared at each other, neither willing to give in. After what felt like an eternity, he finally caved and agreed, "Okay, you're fine. But you should still ice all your bruises."

"Okay." I took an experimental step, winced a bit, and nodded. "Let's go."

Hero shook his head. "Stay here."

I glanced at the Hulk on the ground and all the other Hulks milling around. "I'd rather not."

He followed my glance and glowered. "Crap. Okay, but walk slowly."

He took my good hand and led me to the kitchen. I surveyed the roomy space as he scooped some ice into a baggie for me.

I had a sudden urge to learn more about him. So I asked, "This is your house?"

He nodded.

"Your party?"

He shook his head vehemently. "My sister's. She's in college but whenever she comes home, she throws a party and invites all the losers she knows."

He hands me the baggie and I take it thankfully, immediately pressing it against my side. I squeal at the coldness.

So he has a sister and she's in college. What else will he tell me? "Your parents are okay with this?"

"They don't know. My sister's crazy, but not that crazy. She knows that our parents will kill her if they find out, so she always cleans up right after, even if she's drunk." He rolled his eyes fondly. "She's never drunk enough to forget to clean up."

He took another baggie of ice and placed it on my bruised hand, carefully balancing my hand in his.

He was standing inches away from me now. I looked at him and he looked at me and I realized I could see his eyelashes through his glasses.

He was standing really close.

Smiling, he mentioned, "You know, you haven't asked me the most important question yet."

"What?"

"What's your name?"

With a jolt, I realized this was true.

The shock must've registered on my face, because he chuckled and said, "It's okay. I forgot to ask yours too."

Shaking out of my stupor, I smiled and quoted, "'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'"

"Romeo and Juliet, huh? Fan of Shakespeare?"

"Not really. I thought Romeo and Juliet was one of his worst, actually. The double suicide at the end was not appealing."

"Then why that quote?"

"It was the first thing that popped into my head."

"I see." He grinned at me. "So you're one of them."

"One of who?"

"One of those people who speak whatever's on their mind."

"Kinda. Only if it's not rude or incriminating." I grinned back. "Was that a compliment?"

"That's how I meant it, but take it however you want."

I considered it and made my choice. "Okay."

He waited. I said nothing. Finally, he asked, "So, did you choose compliment or insult?"

"That's for me to know and you to find out," I smirked. "Now, would you like to tell me your name?"

He countered smugly, "That's for me to know and you to find out. What's in a name, really?"

"Stop repeating me!" I complained, but I was secretly pleased that he was teasing me. That meant he liked me, right? "Can't think of anything yourself, so you have to use my words?"

He snickered. "Isn't it always more effective using someone's words against themselves?"

I thought about it and grudgingly admitted, "True. But c'mon, tell me your name. Please?" I blinked up innocently at him.

He just stared at me. Eventually, he let out a breath and said simply, "Alex."

"What?"

"That's my name."

"Oh," I said stupidly. I looked him over, trying to match him to his name. Alex. Alex. Alex.

Asian Hero Guy totally fit him better. But Alex would do.

"Alex," I tried it out.

"Yes?"

"Alex."

"What?"

"Alex."

"Okay, I get it!"

I laughed. "Alex. It's nice."

"Thanks. So glad you approve," he said wryly.

I just smiled winningly.

"So, now that that's outta the way, how about you tell me yours?"

"My what?"

"Your name."

"What about my name?"

"Tell me."

"Tell you what?"

He growled, "You!"

"Me!"

"If I knew your name, I'd be cursing it right now."

"But you don't. And even if you did know it, you wouldn't curse me right after you saved me. Why did you save me, by the way?" I questioned curiously.

He raised his eyebrows. "Now that's a stupid question."

"Hey!"

"Well it's true. Why do you think I saved you?"

"Because you have a hero complex."

"Really."

I tried again. "Because you're a nice guy?"

"That's true…but not quite."

"Because this is your house and you don't want bad things happening here?"

He sighed. "I kicked that guy in the face. He bled on my carpet. I'd say a bad thing has already happened."

"Okay, then why?"

"Tell me your name and I'll tell you why."

I pouted. "Fine. You first."

He shook his head and laughed. I liked the sound of it. "No way. I already told you my name, so it's your turn to spill."

I pouted some more. "You suck. Okay, so my name is Autumn. Like the season. I have no idea what my parents were thinking when they named me, but clearly they weren't thinking clearly, because – "

"Autumn."

"What?"

"Autumn."

"Oh, I see, you're getting revenge."

"It's pretty."

"I know it's – wait, really?"

"Yeah."

I looked Alex in the eyes. "Really?"

He gazed back. "Really."

I smiled happily. "No one's ever said that before."

"Really?"

"Really. Kids used to make fun of me by calling me Fall. I was really clumsy when I was young, so I tripped a lot too. It was a fitting nickname, unfortunately." I shrugged.

"Not anymore. I'll protect you."

I raised an eyebrow skeptically at this, but merely replied, "Thanks, but I think I can protect myself. And, oh my God, my shirt is soaked!" I realized. I jumped and yelped as I finally felt the cold water seep into the fabric and onto my skin, the previous conversation forgotten.

But he didn't forget.

. . .

He proved me wrong.

In the weeks following our introduction, I began to see him around more…but always when I was in trouble.

I seemed to attract a lot of trouble all of a sudden.

Once, a few days after the party, as I was walking to school, I pressed the crosswalk button. There were no cars around. The light changed after just a few seconds, and I began to walk.

Halfway across the street, I heard something to my left. I turned my head and saw a car swerving crazily at me. Frozen in fear, I stood stupidly in the middle of the road, waiting for the car to hit me.

Alex appeared out of nowhere and grabbed me by the hand – still my good one, because my other hand hadn't healed completely yet – and pulled me as he sprinted across the street. The car swished by so close that I could feel the sharp wind as it passed.

When we reached the other side, I collapsed onto the ground and hyperventilated like mad. Alex knelt by me and comforted me, before forcing me up and rushing me to school.

He walked me to school every day after that.

Another time, only a week or so after the car incident, I was walking home. The only way home from school was along this deserted dirt road that no one ever used, so I was generally pretty safe. That afternoon, however, a group of thugs jumped out of a bunch of bushes and circled me. I was getting ready to scream my lungs out when, again, Alex jumped in. He whirled, punching and kicking expertly. A minute later, all five thugs were lying on the ground, groaning and clutching their injuries. Alex seized me by the hand and pulled me away, like before. When I got over my awe of him, I asked him how he knew I was in trouble. He told me that he remembered he had a book to return to me and he held up my battered of Jane Eyre that I'd lent him. He was lucky to have found me when he did.

He was really lucky, it appeared.

Heaps of tiny accidents, and occasionally a few truly scary ones, followed, like accidentally cutting my finger with a knife, or almost burning all my hair off, or tripping over my feet, or, once, a bunch of rabid dogs chasing after me. I don't know what it was about me that attracted predators and danger, but attract I did.

I was just lucky that Alex was always there to help.

I was really lucky.

. . .

Finally, after a few months of all this saving, I was fed up with my inability to protect myself. By now, Alex and I had grown close. I was confident he'd say yes.

"Alex?" I said on night, as we were studying in his room.

"Hm?"

"Teach me karate." Alex was a black belt. I felt sure that he'd agree it do it.

I was wrong.

Startled, he looked up at me with wide eyes. "What?"

I repeated, "Please teach me karate. I want to learn how to defend myself."

Flatly, he said, "No."

I jerked back in surprise, the full force of the rejection hitting me. "Why not?"

He just shook his head and wouldn't look at me.

I shuddered, blinking back tears. I didn't trust myself to speak. I got up and packed my stuff.

"Where are you going?"

"Home." My voice was shaky.

He didn't ask why. I was surprised. "I'm walking you home."

"No." I'd never refused him before. I hoped that it would hurt him the way he'd hurt me.

But he just said, "I wasn't asking permission."

He walked me home. But I slammed the door in his face when I got there. I ran up to my room, flung myself on my bed, and cried.

. . .

I ignored Alex for a week.

What can I say? I was angry that he'd shot me down so readily and hadn't even hinted at an explanation. I kept waiting for him to give me one, but he didn't.

I tried to avoid him when I walked to and from school but he always managed to catch me. I let him walk with me because I always felt safer with him around, but I didn't talk to him. He tried to talk to me the first few days, but I acted as if he didn't exist.

He stopped trying after.

He walked me to school in silence and walked my home in silence. WE never studied together or just hung out anymore. I was miserable and I hoped he was too, because that meant that he cared about my friendship. But he never showed anything.

A week later, on Saturday, the doorbell rang. I'd been rereading Jane Eyre on the living room couch and I was really into it so I stomped over to the door and yanked it open irritably.

"What do you want" was what was supposed to come out of my mouth. Instead, my mouth glued itself shut at the sight of Alex standing nervously on my doorstep, clutching a large bouquet of pink, white, and yellow daisies. My eyes widened at the sight.

"Hey, Autumn," he greeted casually, though his twitchy hands gave away his apprehension.

My lips unglued. "A-Alex," I croaked. "What are you doing here?"

"Finally got you to say something to me!"

I glared at him.

He got the message. Taking a deep breath, Alex said, "I'm sorry."

Not what I was expecting.

I didn't really have any expectations at all, really. But whatever I wasn't expecting, an apology was definitely high on that list.

I was speechless.

He continued, "I know you're angry that I didn't want to teach you karate. I know you want an explanation. The thing is, I don't even have a very good one. My only reason is…" He hesitated.

When it was clear that he didn't want to go on, I prodded, "Is?"

He hesitated some more and finally exhaled loudly. "The reason I don't want you to learn is because I love being the only person to protect you," he spilled hastily, probably hoping I wouldn't be able to understand his mumbling but would accept it without question.

Tough luck.

"Sorry, I didn't quite catch all that," I told him sweetly. "Would you mind repeating that?"

"Yes, I would mind, actually," he ground out.

"Too bad. Repeat it."

"No."

"You owe me for having such a stupid reason."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you really do."

"Fine!" He shouted in exasperation. "I like being the only one to protect you, okay? There! I told you! And now I feel great!" He thrust the daisies into my arms and danced a little jig that I assumed was his victory dance in for his successful confession.

I couldn't help it. I laughed. I laughed loud and long, as if I hadn't laughed in a long time (which was kinda true, seeing as I'd been miserable for the past week). I laughed at him, at myself, at us, at the world, and the universe, at everything.

I just needed to laugh. Anything could've made me laugh at that point. A pencil tip breaking could've made me laugh.

When I finished, my stomach and cheeks heart, and my eyes were blurry from tears of laughter. I straightened up and looked into Alex's bewildered face, which made me chuckle some more.

"Come inside, Alex. I'm gonna go get some water for these flowers." I smiled at him and walked away, sniffing the fresh, sweet scent of the flowers. I found an old glass vase, filled it halfway with water, and stuck the flowers in. I carried the vase back, wanting to stare at the flowers that Alex had given me a little bit longer.

Alex hadn't moved. It was as if the shock of his confession had just hit him.

"Alex. You can sit," I encouraged.

He was stone.

I set down the vase and moved to him. I placed my hand – my now-healed hand – on his arm to pull him to the couch, but when my fingers touched his skin, he jumped. I hid a smile.

"You okay, Alex?"

"Yeah…yeah," he answered dazedly.

"Okay." I giggled at his behavior.

He slowly made his way to the couch and sat down.

I suddenly remembered something. "Hey Alex."

"Huuuh?"

"Remember that day in your kitchen, when you asked me my name?"

"Uhhhhh-huh."

I ignored his stupor and continued, "You said that if I told you my name, you'd tell me why you saved me. But you never did."

"Uhhhhh."

"Alex!" I called.

He snapped into a salute. "Yessir!"

"Alex?"

"Huh? Oh, right!" I could see the shock leaving him. I breathed a sigh of relief. Alex was coming back to life.

"So why did you save me that night?"

"Well, aside from the fact that I have a hero complex and that I don't like mean idiots in my house forcing themselves on girls, and that, oh yeah, I'm in love with you, the reason I saved you is because you saved me once."

Now it was my turn to be shocked. "What? When was this?"

Alex waved his hand dismissively. "When were in elementary school sometime. That's not important. What's important is that you saved me and ever since, I've been waiting for a chance to save you. And now I finally have – "

"Many times over," I inserted.

" – and I've also fallen in love with you so please give me an answer?" finished Alex.

I knew my answer. He knew my answer. At least, he should've. I mean, it was pretty obvious.

I struck another deal. "Tell me how I saved you and I'll give you my answer."

"I can't believe you forgot. Am I that forgettable?"

"Maybe you were when you were little. I mean, if you needed clumsy little Fall to save you, then you must've been a wimp."

"Hey!"

"Well, isn't it true? Now, tell me how I saved you 'cause I still don't believe I could've done that."

"Okay, so when I was young, I guess I was a bit of a wimp. I was really small and got sick a lot, so I was never in school. Whenever I came, the bigger boys would bully me, which didn't help my being sick at all. Anyways, one day, you noticed and, being the innocent little girl you were, rushed over and stood up to the bullies. You told them that it was bad to hit people and that you were gonna tell on them if they didn't stop being mean."

I snorted, "And that really stopped them?"

"Hey, this was in elementary school, remember. At that age, pretty much all kids are afraid of what adults can do to us little kids."

As he spoke, the scene played out in my head and I vaguely remembered it. "Now that you mention it, I do seem to remember something like that…Yeah, I remember standing up for a small, bony kid against three fat boys."

"Yup, that small, bony kid was me."

I smiled at the memory. "I was a good kid."

"You still are," Alex said. "So, about that answer…"

I blushed. "Um…"

"Come on. I told you my embarrassing wimpy story. All you have to say is yes or no."

"Just yes or no?"

"Just yes or no," he confirmed.

I was silent. Then I whispered, "Yes."

"What?"

"I said, yes, I'm in love with you too, you wimpy heroic boy!" I threw in his face. "You made me miserable for the past week so you better make it up to me!"

Alex came out of shock much quicker this time. He grinned happily and leaned in, saying, "I think I've got a good idea how…"

I was smiling as his lips touched mine.

. . .

Alex and I sat on my couch, as happy as could be. I was snuggled into his arms when he spoke.

"Wanna know something?"

"Don't I always?"

"I already knew your name."

"Huh?"

"That time at my house, after I saved you from that wrestler dude. Remember? You asked me my name, and I asked for yours?"

"Yeah." I gasped as understanding alit inside my head. "So you already knew?"

"Yup."

"Then why did you pretend not to know?"

He just looked at me.

I thought about and decided, "Well, I guess it would've been kinda weird if you just told me you knew who I was, since I had never seen you before. Well, I didn't remember you," I amended.

"I feel so forgettable."

I slapped his arm. "You know you're not. I just don't get why you never talked to me after. We could've been friends!"

"I didn't want to be friends."

I blushed and wouldn't look him in the eyes.

He tipped my chin up, forcing me to look at him. "Hey. Autumn."

"Hm?"

"I love you."

I bit my lip to keep from grinning creepily and bursting into happy waterworks. I replied softly, "I love you too, Alex. Will you protect me forever?" I looked hopefully into his dark, happy eyes.

"If you insist," he sighed heavily, but he was smiling hugely so I knew he was joking.

. . .

I have never felt safer.

It's been three years since then. Three whole years. Three wonderful years. Three amazing, fun, beautiful, truly happy years. Trouble still seems to follow me but I know that if I ever fall, Alex will be there to catch me.

He always does.

That's it. Here's the link to the LGMH story that inspired me.

http : / love . givesmehope . com / view / True+love / 9124523

Just remove the spaces between all the dots and dashes. It's adorable!

The names and characters and situations are all mine, though. Only the basic plotline doesn't belong to me.

Anyways, hope you liked this! There was something else…

OH YEAH! If you look at the name of the person who posted the LGMH story, it's "Falling." WHAT A COINKY-DINK! I swear I didn't even notice till after I named Autumn and gave her "Fall" as a nickname. This is fate.

Write on. Read on. That's my motto.

© Copyright 2012 by the Siege