The next few weeks were uneventful. I recovered, slowly going back to my rigorous workout schedule, the stitches removed, the cane discarded. I was back, and life was for the most part back to normal. I got two green credits for my first mission, and treated myself to the lanyard that Mike had saw and thought I would like. I moved my pin, key, and card onto it, and then wore it proudly as everyone did. It felt like finally I was not an outcast any longer.
In addition, I was no longer the newbie. A new boy was brought in and placed in the empty spot in Hotel two that I would have had, if I had not showed my skill. I shivered to think that I would not have been with Mike if that had happened. We didn't kiss since that day, but were ever closer, and the picture frame stayed up on my dresser, where I could look at my family each and every day.
It was unfortunate, but I thought less and less of them. They were more of a picture in a frame rather than people I used to be with. Almost six months without them, with a new family, was something that was an easier transition than I had thought. I was older, more experienced, and my body had started to fill out. I was looking like more of a woman than a girl, and my first signs of 'womanhood' had arrived in the Comet League as well. Of course, it would have been great to have my mom there for that, but instead, one of the female technicians I had grown close to aided me and allowed me to confide my pain in her. Now I had something additional to worry about once a month, but it wasn't a big deal for me. I knew I couldn't whine to the boys about it, because all they would understand is that I snap at them more on certain days than others.
Most of the boys understood now that Mike was mine, or I was Mike's, however it went, and backed off. I received less love poetry and flowers, but there was never the ceased flow of those eager to help me and talk with me. But more and more I had the feeling it was less to try and 'be mine' rather than genuine friendship. I did have plenty of just friends, nothing more, outside of my group. It was very nice, and we sometimes got together in the gym and studied together. Mike could respect that as well, because other than adults, there were no other girls for me to hang out with. So I had to make do with the boys.
But Griffon was another story. He had turned seventeen a week back or so, and he was started to scare me. I was reluctant to be alone anymore, because he always seemed to be there when I was alone, and seemed a little too pushy, and dare I say it, but perverted. I made a point of it never to be alone except in room twenty four, the place that only Mike, Tom, Joe and I had the keys too. Other than that, I was with my team or with some of the other guys. But yet, Griffon never seemed to be far away, seeming hungry to be with me.
I didn't confide in anyone about my fears of Griffon, mostly because I thought they would think I was silly or joking. Griffon was a jerk, and most people wouldn't put it past him to try and scare me. But part of my heart always whispered to me that maybe it wasn't a harmless joke of his. Maybe there was a danger. But I pushed it aside. I should have known better than to do that though. Your gut feeling is almost always right.
I came back from my fourth mission feeling completely exhilarated. I was receiving outstanding remarks, matching with the rest of Echo one in terms of efficiency in the field. I had proved myself a natural for this sort of work, and I loved it. This mission was my first level four, and though I didn't get to kill it, I was a crucial part of the strategy we used. Rather than feeling nervous, I had been full of adrenaline the entire time. Once the deed was done though, we chatted casually on the way back.
I had figured it out quickly. The adrenaline is a bit like a drug, and the chatting helps you avoid the bit of a hangover it can give you if you're not careful. But now I was returning to my room, hands smelling like gunpowder from my gun that I had just replaced in its respective spot in the range. I looked in the mirror, surveying my clothes and skin, and then sighed in defeat as I realized that I really should take a shower. Dinner was in about half an hour, so I had time to shower and brush out my damp hair.
The warm water flowing over my shoulders was relaxing, and I thought about my relationship with Mike. Sure, he was the greatest. I was close to him as all of the other guys in my team, even a little more so. It might take another month or so to arrange another date, but I was okay with that. We were busy people, and going outside took lots of permission. He had saved my life twice, and I hit. That was on our third mission, but he managed to not even get injured thanks to me. We then complained to whoever told us about the mission we should have been warned there was a cliff in the general area.
But all in all, even though we had been on a date and kissed and had been quite close, nothing else happened. One kiss, a few hugs, and lots of high fives and shoulder bumps. I didn't mind it that way, and didn't want anything more. It was perfect.
I got out of the shower and dried off, dressing in some sweatpants and a loose shirt to go down to dinner. I was too lazy to squeeze into jeans, and I would be going to bed after dinner and homework anyway. There was no need to go through the trouble of getting dressed up. Through the steamy mirror I saw myself, and then realized that Mike said he would meet me in the mess hall, and Tom and Joe had changed plans. I would have to go to the mess hall alone.
At that point though, I didn't really have many thoughts other than Griffon. I stepped out of the bathroom and looked at the clock we had purchased for the room, finally, last month. Dinner had started five minutes ago, so most people would be down there. Griffon would too. I didn't have anything to worry about.
Stepping out of the room, I carefully locked the door behind me, and headed down the hall. It was empty, forward and behind, assuring me I was alright. I started towards the stairs, and headed down, ready to go a few flights to get to my destination.
As I started to climb them, my one knee gave out, courtesy of a pulled muscle from an accident in the gym. I fell down hard, grunting slightly, taking a few deep breaths through the pain. Knowing I would be able to get up in a few minutes when the pain passed, I sat tight, waiting for my body to calm down. Of course, everything went into overdrive when I heard a silky and chilling voice behind me.
"Do you need help up, Roxy? Is Mike not here to help you out?" Griffon stood there, on the landing of the stairs above me, smirking. He ran a hand through his golden hair as he walked down the stairs toward me. My muscle still pulled, not allowing me to move right. I snarled at him, spitting as I tried to get up but failed once more.
"Get away, Griffon! I have this…" He stopped a few steps in front of me, and started laughing, his green eyes boring holes through my body.
"What do you have Roxy? You have nothing. You would have something if you had chosen me over Mike. If only you had seen how much better I was. But no. You picked him instead, and stay by him all the time. Never even give me a chance, do you?" He continued towards me, and I scrambled backwards as best I could with one good leg, now my one muscle cramping terribly till I had to bite my lip to keep the sounds of pain from escaping my mouth. Griffon kept moving, walking towards me, and then I was backed into a corner at the bottom of the landing of the stairs. He leaned over me, his breath suffocating me.
"Roxy, you could have chosen me and we could have avoided all this mess. But now you have to pay Roxy." I let out a muffled squeak as he clasped my hands into one of his before I even had a chance to react, and took another hand, grabbing my chin, forcing me to look into his eyes.
"You are such a bitch. I'm going to make sure you know that." Then he released my chin and slapped me across the face with what seemed like all his might. It stung terribly, and tears sprang to my eyes as I felt the hand that didn't have my wrists held tight move the collar of my shirt, threatening to move down. It took me forever it seemed to get my words out.
"Griffon, please, stop! Let me go!" I sobbed the words as he continued to pull at my shirt and touch my chest, but he only took a moment to slap me again. I couldn't move, my legs pinned under one of his, my arms immobile. I cried and sobbed, but couldn't seem to get my vocal cords to work. I was terrified, a nightmare coming true. I couldn't even defend myself. Eventually though, as he started to move his hands down, I had enough. A scream for help ripped itself free from my lungs.
Somewhere, past the sound of my own tears, I heard a door swing open and someone start yelling. I heard screaming, Griffon yelling, and he released all of his holds on me. I curled up on myself, hardly able to see through the tears as someone came after Griffon, yelling, and threw himself upon my tormentor.
Wailing from both parties echoed loud throughout the staircases, and I heard screaming, saw blurry shapes swinging at each other. Eventually one prevailed, and there was blood on the ground, more yelling, more voices, more people, more footsteps. Some yelled and pulled the two apart, some came to me. I pushed them away, sobbing, crying, trying to break free. Someone grabbed hold of my wrists, but I pulled free and kicked out at them. I escaped, running blindly, upstairs, and somehow found myself in my room. I didn't know what to do, heard voices following me, and locked myself in the bathroom. I cried and cried and screamed at whoever yelled at me outside of the door.
I curled up in the farthest corner of the room, sobbing, and it seemed there was no end to the tears, no stopping. I didn't try and return the yells anymore. Finally the door burst open and arms were around me. I tried to fight them off, but they wrapped around me so tightly and my strength was so lacking I eventually gave up and cried into the shoulder that was there.
Taking a long time, my tears eventually slowed, and I began to see straight. Mike was holding me, gently stroking my hair, letting me cry into him. Had it been anyone else, at my fragile state, I might have broken, snapped, gone insane. But the overwhelming sense of comfort that I got from being with him was unbelievable. My mouth started choking out words of its own accord.
"He- Griffon, he, he he…" Mike made gentle shushing sounds with his mouth, and I sat there forever. There were voices around me, other people there, but that didn't matter. I was safe now, in Mike's arms.