A couple weeks later in P.E. class, the girls were watching the boys get split up for a game of dodgeball. Xai stood by herself on the sideline, while Kristine and her entourage sat on the bleachers. They were making comments about how the team leaders were picking teams.
Two girls were standing a little ways away from Xai talking softly. Every once in a while they’d point and giggle. She recognized them from class. They always sat behind Tahlmus, though she had not yet learned their names.
Turning back to the field Xai saw that Tahlmus was the last one who didn’t have a side. The two team leaders were now arguing over who had to take her cousin. Xai couldn’t understand the argument, her cousin had a good arm and he was accurate too. She had watched him play catch with his father numerous times.
The Phys. Ed. Teacher finally just put Tahl on a team. All the guys on the team groaned while her cousin just rolled his eyes. Feeling her blood start to warm, Xai walked over to the two girls who were still pointing and giggling.
“Hi,” the two girls said in unison as Xai approached.
“Hi,” Xai said shyly with a slight wave. She hadn’t really wanted to talk to them, but they seemed the better choice between walking towards them or Kristine.
“So which one do you like?” The girl who asked had brown hair with purple and pink tips.
“Excuse me?” Xai asked.
“Which boy do you like looking at silly?” the other girl who had mostly purple hair asked.
“None of them really,” Xai replied. “They all pick on my cousin, so I don’t find any of them worthwhile. Who… who do you two like watching?”
Both girls started to giggle, though their faces looked sad. They opened their mouths as if to speak, but a commotion from the field caught their attention. The teacher had given the signal for the game to start and the leader of Tahlmus’s team had decided to use him as a shield, and the other team was pelting Tahlmus with balls. Xai made a move to go onto the field, but the two girls grabbed her shoulders.
“He will be ok,” the one with purple and pink tips said. Xai scoffed trying to get out of their grasp. They were surprisingly strong.
“It’s a long story, but trust us, it’s easier on him if you stay here.”
“How can you say that?” Xai screeched as she watched several guys start kicking her cousin after he had taken a ball to the head and fell.
“Because they will do it to you too,” the girl with dyed tips said as the teacher finally broke things up. He told Tahlmus to go see the nurse and then let the boys go back to playing.
Tahlmus was wobbly on his legs. He was dizzy and lightheaded, but he fought it so he could get off the playing field. He was about to fall over when he felt someone’s shoulders under his arm.
“I got you cuz.”
“You shouldn’t be helping me Xai. They’ll hurt you too.”
“They can try,” Xai replied as she helped Tahlmus to the nurse’s office. Tahlmus just smirked at his cousin’s confidence. She was almost fully back to being herself. Neither had noticed the two girls that were following them.
After the nurse had shut the door, having told Xai she’d have to wait outside, dyed tips and purple hair approached her. Before Xai could say anything they pulled her into the closet restroom, and started explaining what had happened a couple years ago when they had tried to stand up for her cousin. Xai was beyond shocked that the school allowed such behavior.
The girls stood in silence for a few minutes. None of them really sure on what else to say. “I’m … uh… I’m Xai by the way,” Xai finally stated. The other two girls smiled.
“I’m Celest, but you can call me Cherry,” the girl with purple and pink tips stated.
“I’m Laguna, but you can call me Lemon,” the girl with purple hair said.
“Cherry? Lemon?” Xai asked as she thought those were odd nicknames.
The girls started giggling. “They are our code names really, for notes and stuff. Cherry is short for Cherry Bomb and Lemon is short for Lemon Drop,” Cherry said.
“Long story short, they are our parents’ favorite alcoholic drinks,” Lemon stated.
“So what do you want your code name to be?” Xai looked at Cherry confused.
“You can think about it,” Lemon said. “And…” she hesitated as she glanced at Cherry. “You should also know that we both kind of have a thing for your cousin.”
“Wait… what? Is that why you’re being nice to me? To get close to my cousin?”
“No, no,” Cherry said quickly. “We really want to be friends with you. We think your cool, but…” her words drifted off.
“One of our hobbies is talking about your cousin and how one day we hope he will date us both,” Lemon finished.
“Wait… date you both? Like… at the same time?” The girls nodded. “You’d… you’d be ok with that?” The girls nodded again.
“As long as he loved us both equally, neither of us would get jealous,” Lemon stated.
Xai started nodding with a cocked eyebrow. These two were a special kind of weird. She liked it. “Wait… Does Tahlmus-” Xai didn’t get to finish the question before Cherry and Lemon started shaking their heads no. They quickly explained how anyone who actually tried to be nice to Tahlmus was subjected to everything he was. The only exempt ones were the seniors he’d made friends with. NO freshman messed with a senior.
“My parents had a thing for Moonshine when I was little,” Xai said. She smiled sadly as the two girls squealed. “Tahl’s parents like this fancy Swedish vodka… maybe whenever we start talking about him, we can call him Fancy Vodka.”
“Oh! That’s perfect,” Lemon gasped.
“We can use Fancy V for short,” Cherry said as she clapped her hands together.
All the girls were giggling when Xai heard her name come over the PA system asking her to go to the office. She left the restroom with Cherry and Lemon on her heals. Xai was shown to the principal’s office where she saw Tahlmus sitting at an odd angle. The principal was nowhere to be seen. Tahlmus had seen her come in and motioned for her to take the seat next to him. She quietly complied.
“Mom’s coming to take me to the hospital,” he whispered. Xai looked at the floor as she took his hand. “I’m… uh… I’m probably going to be out of school for the next two weeks, so I’ll need you to collect my assignments.”
Before Tahlmus could speak the principal walked in. He sat comfortably in his chair folding his hands together on the desk. “We caught a break this time,” the principal stated. “The security cameras that face the football field had been left on. Everything was caught on video. I just got done making several copies of it.”
Xai noticed how her cousin let out a sigh of relief. “So no suspension?” he asked.
The principal shook his head. “Though you may want to take the next couple of days to heal and just come back to school on Monday. Everything should be sorted out by then.”
Tahlmus nodded as there was a knock on the door. The school secretary popped her head in saying Mrs. Anders was there and wondering if she could take Xai too. The principal agreed. He knew Tahlmus would need help walking.
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