Chapter 16: “Brave Face”
“Ready for fight club?” Lynn laughs. She throws a gray tank top over her sports bra.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I sigh. I grab my phone and keys. Normally when Lynn and I are together only one of us brings our keys, but I have a feeling that I’m going to stay with Eric tonight. Okay, why am I trying to kid myself, I’m definitely going to stay with Eric tonight. “Who’s the instructor tonight?” Lynn doesn’t answer me. She refuses to look up. “It’s Four isn’t it?””
“Eric’s gonna be there too. You know that if Eric’s there he’s not going to let Four talk to you, let alone touch you.” Lynn picks up her phone and puts her keys in the pocket of her pants. “Come on, let’s go before you bail on me.” Lynn locks the door behind us. “Hey maybe you can fight Four tonight.”
I laugh at her. “You really think that I could take on Four?”
“No,” Lynn laughs, “but you can probably outrun him.”
Slowly, we make our way to the basement. The tables that are normally there are pushed to the side. Punching bags and mats have taken their place in the center of the room. Lynn and I make our way to Marlene and Uriah. We all nod at each other. It doesn’t seem like anyone is in the mood to fight tonight. Eventually, Shauna joins us. It looks like all the girls on the floor are here tonight. I guess everyone is taking Max’s suggestion seriously.
A few minutes later, Christina, Will and Al walk in. Will and Uriah start talking. Al speaks up when he has something to say. Christina, on the other hand, for once has nothing to say. She’s standing next to Will looking at her nails. Eventually when she sees that none of the girls are going to speak to her she pulls out her phone.
Eric walks in five minutes before eight. He puts his jacket on a chair and walks over to me. “I was wondering where you were.” Eric wraps an arm around my waist. He kisses my shoulder “How did everything go today?” He says it just loud enough for me to hear.
I shake my head. “I’ll tell you when we go back to your room.” I lean and rest my head on him. I’ve been ready for this day to end since I got back from conflict resolution.
Six Hours Earlier…
I knock on the door in front of me. I can hear people laughing and talking. It opens up suddenly and I jump.
“Hello there, you must be Tris.” A rather tall Asian man says to me. “I’m Jack Kang. Please come in.”
I step inside the office and I see that Max is sitting in one of the chairs in front of his desk. I smile weakly at him. I sit down next to Max, automatically my hand plays with the hem of my dress.
“So Tris…” Jack starts. “Max told me what happened. I also read over the statement that Eric sent to him. I must say it was extremely smart of you to call Eric. Both of your stories add up which will make it easier for the “jury” to see that you are telling the truth. I nod at him. “So what’s going to happen is Max will be the one to make the complaint against them while you and Eric will be witnesses. You will be asked some questions, but mainly Max would do most of the talking.”
I nod. “So basically I’m there to put a face to all of this?”
Jack laughs. “Well yes and no. We do have Eric there; I’ve spoken with him already today. He’s going to say what he heard. However with you there a case against them will be stronger; it increases the odds of Peter and Drew getting kicked out of DU.”
I nod. “Is there anything else that I need to do?”
Jack nods. “Yes I need you to e-mail me a statement of what happened that night. Also I want to you to sign these two documents. Essentially it is a “restraining order”. Peter and Drew, as well as their friends, are unable to speak to you without there being consequences. It also goes the same with you. You do have to sign two; one for each of them.” He slides the two slips of paper over to me.
It seems strange that a slip of paper can prevent them from coming near me again. I get the vibe from Peter that he isn’t going to listen to this, but if it puts extra padding between me and him then I will sign anything. I sign them and slide them back.
“I just have a quick question.” I pause and look up at Jack. “The fact that had previously been drinking isn’t going to look bad on my part right?”
Before Jack can answer, Max finally speaks. “Tris, just because you are drinking doesn’t mean that you aren’t entitled to be safe on this campus. They took advantage of you. Just because you had been drinking doesn’t make the word no mean any less. Honestly, they are lucky that Eric stopped when he did.”
I look at Max. “What do you mean?”
Jack laughs at this. “Tris from what Max and Eric told me, they are were more black and blue than anything else. I saw their mug shots from the police report. They are pretty unrecognizable.”
“Oh. Eric never told me that.” I pause. “So I will e-mail you my statement of what happened that night as soon as I can.”
“Thank you.” Jack replies. “Also I know that Max gave you a number for a school therapist, have you considered speaking to them?”
“Not yet. I’ve had a lot going on in the last week that it hasn’t crossed my mind to speak to someone.” I pause. “I still have the number, when I’m ready I will.”
I watch Tris as she spaces out. She’s thinking so hard that I can feel her thoughts trying to enter my brain. I squeeze her waist to get her attention. She looks up and smiles. I kiss her forehead since it’s the closest thing to me.
“You know Eric,” Uriah says, pulling Tris and I out of the bubble we’d created. “I thought you were some hard ass, but apparently it only took Tris two weeks to get you whipped.” Uriah and his group of friends laugh. I can feel Tris shaking attempting to suppress her laugh.
“What’s that Uriah, you want to volunteer to fight against me?” I smile. “That’s so kind of you to be brave in front of your friends.” Uriah visibly pales. Tris and her friends laugh at this.
Four walks in. He makes eye contact with me motioning for me to join him.
“Yeah?” I say in a bored tone. I’m really not in the mood to deal with him today. All I’ve wanted was to speak with Tris about how everything went with conflict resolution.
“Ready to teach them the basics?” Four rolls his eyes at me.
“So, all of you are here because you want to learn self defense.” I yell out. Anyone who wasn’t paying attention is now. “Tonight we are going to teach you the basics. Four and I will show you how to throw a proper punch, how to block a punch, and how to assess your enemy’s weakness. Thankfully for that Uriah volunteered earlier to fight against me. So let’s all give a hand for Uriah.” I watch as Uriah shrinks down. I smile.
“All of you should watch me.” Four says. He demonstrates how to throw a punch, and then he demonstrates how to block a punch when I throw one at him. “All of you should go to a punching bag and get started. Eric and I will correct your technique if we feel that you are doing it wrong.”
Everyone goes up to a punching bag and starts hitting. Most of the guys seem to be throwing them right. The girls need minor improvements, like tilting their arm. Four and I walk up and down the rows. I eye him when I see him stand near Tris. He says something to her and puts his hand on her stomach. Tris looks angry, but nods. I throw Four a dirty look when he glances at me.
After an hour of watching every throw and block punches I smile. “Okay everyone,” I yell out. “We are going to watch as Uriah tells me what my weaknesses are.” Tris and her friends laugh. I motion for Uriah to join me on the mat. “Okay tell me what you see.”
Uriah looks. “Well the easy one is the piercings.”
“And if I were to attack you how would you get out of it?”
“From behind I’d try to get a hit to your stomach. You’re only a little taller than me so I could elbow you there. And from the front I’d probably try to your head or throat.”
I nod. “Good. Lucky for you the only thing you volunteered for is to tell my weaknesses. Everyone have a good night.”
Uriah smiles at me. “Thanks man.”
I nod. We both walk to the same group. I throw an arm around Tris’s shoulder.
“Muscles that I didn’t know I have hurt.” Marlene frowns.
“My entire body hurts.” Tris shakes her head.
I laugh at them all. “Well at least you can all throw a proper punch now.” They all glare at me. If looks could kill I’d be dead. I bite my cheek instead of laughing.
Tris wraps her around mine. She motions with her head to the stairs and I nod.
“I’m going to bed guys. See you later.” Tris smiles. She pulls me in the direction of the stairs. “I’ll give you one dollar for every step you carry me up.”
I laugh at her, and look up the stairs. “That’s a lot of steps. Think you can afford that?”
“No… But I can pay you in kisses and cuddles.” She winks.
“Hop on then.” I smirk. Tris jumps on my back, her arms go around my neck and my hands grip her thighs. I make our way up to the third floor. When I get there Tris jumps off.
“Thank you.” She kisses my cheek. “I knew my boyfriend was exceptionally strong.”
I laugh at her. “Come on I was promised cuddles and kisses. I’d really like some before someone crashes in my bed.”
Tris laughs. “You’re the one with the old man schedule. In bed by ten and asleep by ten oh five.”
“That’s because I’m on a schedule.” I shake my head as I unlock the door. Once it’s open Tris goes in and makes herself comfortable. She kicks off her shoes and goes through a draw until she finds a shirt that she plans to wear for pajamas.
“You know I do way more laundry because of you.” I sigh. I lock the door behind me.
Tris smiles. “I can do your laundry next time if you want.” The only reason she’s offering is because wants to keep wearing my shirts to bed. “And you’re the one who told me not to leave some stuff here. I was going to leave pajamas and some work out clothes in the spare dresser you don’t use.”
I go stand in front of her. “Fine, next time we stop at your room we’ll grab some stuff for you to leave here.” I kiss her forehead. “I just don’t want your parents to come visit you and half of your stuff is in here.”
Tris rolls her eyes at my comment. “Please my parents aren’t going to come visit.”
“Whatever you say Tris.” I join her on the bed. “So what exactly happened with conflict resolution today?”