Then You Look At Me

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Defense Mechanisms

~You’re locked inside my heart and your melody is an art~Sia

Chapter Theme Song: 'Eye of the Needle' by Sia

°°

Rainey

“I don’t think you heard the question I just asked.”

The guy who was once seated in the passenger seat is now standing in front of us. Hands tucked inside his trousers’ pockets while his chin is raised cockily.

“Where the fuck is your brother?”

Ansel doesn’t seem intimidated. He’s glaring back at the guy with a deadpan expression.

“And how would I know?” He finally speaks, his tone low but somehow dominant as he stares the guy straight in the eyes.

“Just pass on the message Ken, we don’t have all night.” The driver orders, now leaning against the Subaru and taking a hit of his joint.

The smoke rudely invades my nostrils and I fan it away, grimacing at the utter disrespect. He smiles arrogantly, staring me up and down with a disgustingly flirtatious look.

“Well tell him this...” Ken takes a step closer toward Ansel, his eyebrows lowered. “My boss knows everything now. So, it’s either he gives us the money...or your whole family is in for a joy ride.”

Despite the threat, Ansel’s expression is unwavering. Ken’s eyes then travel to mine, and he scoffs. “And your babe will be in danger as well.”

I glare at him. I think he aimed to get me scared but I wasn’t kidding when I told Ansel that I am not afraid of burglars and mobs.

I secretly do not have a problem with him thinking that I am Ansel’s girl or whatever but babe? Really? I hate being called babe and baby more than anything.

“Make sure to deliver the message.” Ken’s thin lips curl into an atrocious smile before raising his foot and kicking Ansel’s bike away.

Finally, Ansel’s expression morphs into something else.

Anger.

Ken notices this as well and his smirk is wider now, proud that he could evoke that reaction from him. He smugly reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cigarette.

“Your girlfriend is pretty.” He chuckles before turning away and attempting to light his joint. He nods to his companion. “Let’s go.”

The guys gesture to move to the car but a deep sigh comes from Ansel, while he uses a palm to rub his forehead in annoyance.

“First my tyres, now this. Hey, you aren’t done here yet.”

I glance at him, and Ken finally gets his cigar to light and turns around, gawking at Ansel with a face of amusement. “What did you just say?”

“My bike.” He calmly responds. “You need to pick my bike up.”

Ken stares over Ansel for a while then he cracks up in laughter. His friend joins him in his silly cackling and both of them are crouched over with red faces of humor.

They finally come to a calm, but a grin is still evident on their faces as Ken takes a closer step toward Ansel.

“Look at this little fucker. Got some guts, huh?”

Ansel’s expression is unsmiling as he glares at the boy in front of him. “I don’t get what’s so funny about picking up a bike.”

“Joe, are you seeing this?” Ken glances back at his laughing companion before looking back to Ansel with tightened jaws. “This guy wants to challenge me. Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Pick my bike up. That’s all I ask, or I am not responsible for what I do after.”

I look at him. The danger in his voice is a higher level of attractiveness.

Ken smirks, throwing his cigar aside. “What if I don’t?” He comes up into Ansel’s face. “What you gonna do if I don’t?”

The two are staring at each other for a while until Ansel speaks.

“I would have to disfigure your face.”

My eyes enlarge in slight awe, and Ken laughs again, looking back at his silly friend who’s grinning while bringing his joint to his mouth.

He cocks his head to the side in amusement. “Well, how interesting. I would love to see that. So I guess I would have to not pick the bike up then.”

He opens his arms widely with a jeering grin, hanging his tongue out of his head.

Something tells me Ken has a death wish because the look on Ansel’s face is so scary that even I get chills.

He shrugs. “As you wish.”

A dark glare covers Ken’s face when he detects the threat in Ansel’s tone. He raises his fist to throw the first punch, but Ansel reflexively grips his wrist and swings a balled fist straight to his nose instead. I hear crackling bones, then Ken hunches over in pain, holding his face as he cries out.

“Ah, Holy shit!”

My jaws go slack and Joe’s expression is the same as he stares wide-eyed at the scene.

“Pick my bike up,” Ansel commands once again.

“Ah, you son of a bitch!” Ken straightens his spine, massaging his bleeding nose as his face twitches in pain.

He looks at the red liquid on his fingers and laughs. “Ha, you think one punch makes you a champion. Mm?”

Ansel rolls his eyes, letting out a long sigh while he glowers at the bleeding boy. He looks impatient as he jams his palms inside the pockets of his plaid trousers.

Joe’s face hardens as he leans off the car, throwing his cigar aside while he slowly moves over at the aid of his companion.

“Let’s see how you’ll manage both of us, you asshole,” Ken spits, folding his fists and raising them forward.

“Uh...Ansel?”

“It’s okay.” He assures me.

They charge toward him and I step back while I take in the scene. Ansel grabs onto Ken’s neck while he raises his foot and kicks Joe in the abdomen. Joe goes flying against his car and Ansel takes the opportunity to punch Ken in the face. My expression is one of pure bafflement as I watch Ansel beats the two boys. At this point, everything feels like a blur, Ansel is effortlessly managing both guys and the fight has become so intense that I think he will end up killing one of them.

Joe is now curled up on the ground in pain while Ansel is sitting over Ken and repeatedly fisting him to a bloody pulp.

I watch as Joe lifts himself off the ground unsteadily. He flashes the blood gushing from his head from his eyes then he dips inside his pocket and pulls out a shiny pointed object.

I squint my eyes and they immediately enlarge when I realize what it is. A knife.

He limps his way over to Ansel who is oblivious to the danger behind him. I scan the area, then reach for a sizeable stone at the corner of the fence.

I am not the type to sit by and watch someone get stabbed in the back. Someone I care about.

I sprint over and as soon as Joe raises his hand to stab Ansel from behind, I collide the hard rock with his head.

“Fuck!” His groan causes Ansel’s focus to shift from a bloody Ken to me. “You little bitch!”

Joe falls against the ground in pain, holding his head as he cries. Ansel’s eyes travel to the stone in my hand, a look of amazement and admiration on his face.

I awkwardly shift my weight. “Uh, he had a knife...”

He smiles, his eyes shimmering with gratitude. “Thank you.”

I smile a little.

A groan from Ken pulls his attention and a smirk rises at the corner of his lips as he leans over to whisper into Ken’s ear.

“Now, are you ready to pick my bike up?”

Ken swallows, looking like a pitiful puppy as he glares up at Ansel through swollen eyes. Ansel releases the collar of Ken’s shirt as he creeps over to the bike. He picks it up reluctantly then chases over to a puling Joe and helps him to get into the Subaru.

“We aren’t done!” Ken promises. “You will regret doing this!”

He hops around the wheels and the car speeds away and down the road.

The street is quiet once again, only the sound of the whistling wind and oblivious crickets crying in the distance. Ansel sighs exasperatedly, then flumps down on the concrete sidewalk. He adjusts his glasses on his face then grimaces as he flashes his hand. I perch down beside him and the sight of his bruised knuckles makes my eyes enlarge apprehensively.

I impulsively grip his palm in my hand, my eyes scrutinizing his cracked knuckles. “Oh my God, you’re bleeding. We should get this dressed; we should get to a hospital.”

I look up distraughtly to discover that his expression is the total opposite. His lips are curled up in a smile while his bouncy black hair lands over his right eye due to the intense fight that just happened. The sight of his attractiveness makes me swallow hard. I realize how embarrassing my behavior is right now and pull my hand back.

“It’s just a scratch. I’ll be alright.” He promises, fighting off a grin that threatens to spread his lips.

I bite down on my lower lip. “Are you sure? It looks pretty bad.”

“No, I just need a band-aid and I’ll be fine. Ken and Joe are probably the ones who need to get to a hospital. Considering how huge that rock was.” He chuckles.

I smile a little. “I couldn’t watch him play unfairly.”

“Thanks.” His eyes sparkle as he stares at me.

He’s doing it again. He’s staring into my eyes and somehow it feels like he’s seeing far more than I could ever tell.

I swallow and avert my eyes to the fence. “So, Uhm, who were those guys?”

“Uh… just some guys who’re in some dealings with my brother...” His tone is low, and he doesn’t seem excited about this topic at all. I can tell he doesn’t want to talk about it, but my inquisitive ass still carries on.

“Your brother?” I tilt my head to the side. “You mean Alex?”

Instantly I notice a car speeding toward us, I can barely make out the type of vehicle from its distance. Is this more drama?

My question is answered when the Chevrolet Chevelle comes to a stop under the dim streetlight. Ansel jumps up to his feet as Alex gets out of the car and races over to us. I get up, dusting my skirt off.

“Dude, Max just told me that Ken and Joe came here asking for Alaric.”

Who’s Alaric? I am confused. Maybe I should just mind my own business, nothing is adding up.

“Yeah, they were just here. Don’t worry I handled myself well.” Ansel glances at me. “With the help of Rain.”

I smile a little. I didn’t do much.

Alex’s eyes go comically wide. “Oh, so you were the hottie that hit Joe in the head with that huge rock?”

“Uh...the last part is correct.”

“Damn!” Alex smiles widely. “That’s cute.”

Ansel smiles. “Anyway, you should head home now Rain. It’s late.”

“Now that she did something like that…they may start coming after her too,” Alex mutters, scratching his head.

“They won’t, even if they do, they can’t do anything to her. Not when I am here.” Ansel responds and I raise my head to look up at him.

Alex smiles softly, looking between us both before sighing, thick vapor emitting from his mouth. “It’s cold out here. Are you guys ready to get home or what? Ma’ cooked stewed chicken Ansel, I don’t know about you but I’m starving.”

I chuckle.

“Are you ever not hungry?” Ansel titters, shaking his head as we move toward the car.

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