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This was it, it was all over. I'd blown my cover. My days of being under the radar were gone. Matt stood in front of me, blood pouring out of his nose, his hands cupped in front of his face; shock etched into his every feature. He sunk to the ground his eyes never leaving my face, disbelief and confusion in his eyes. Silence echoed around me, broken only by the continued stuttering of Matt. The silence was eerie after the strange 'fight, fight, fight' chant that had filled the air a moment ago. I ignored the eyes of the students watching me and made my way over to Jack, sinking onto the ground next to him. My hand reached out and lightly touched his arm, blood was pouring from a gash on his forehead, his school clothes were ripped and covered in a mixture of blood and dirt.
"Jack" I whispered, gently squeezing his arm, "Can you hear me?"
Jack gave a feeble moan and my heart leapt. He was going to be okay.
"Don't worry Rose, Mrs Combate's coming" Danny said stepping up to my side.
"Thank god" I breathed.
"Is he breathing? Is he going to be okay?"
I looked up into Danny's anxious blue eyes, I didn't know the answer to his question but I couldn't tell him what was actually going through my mind.
"Yeah he's going to be okay" I said.
Danny's face shown with relief and he ran his fingers through his golden hair, sighing. I hear footsteps quickly padding the ground behind me but I didn't move from Jack's side.
"Jack" I whispered again.
The footsteps came to a stop and there was a sudden sharp intake of breath, but I ignored it.
"Jack can you open your eyes for me?"
My hands were starting to tremble, every inch of my body was screaming at him, yearning for him to open his eyes.
"Matt, go to the office immediately."
I knew that voice, Mrs Combate had arrived...finally. I gave Jack another gentle nudge but he remained still.
"Miss Jones, would you mind telling me what has happened here?"
Her voice was stern, disapproving but it held no concern for Jack or Matt. I decided to ignore her, someone else could tell her what happened. All that mattered in that moment was Jack and him opening his eyes.
"Jack?" I said, squeezing his hand.
His eyes flickered open and a smile spread across my face. He really was going to be okay.
Her voice was louder now, rougher.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
Jack closed his eyes for a second and then whispered, "Yes."
"Do you know your name?"
Jacks eyes fluttered open, confusion colouring his face.
"Of course, its Jack" he whispered.
I smiled again, now I really did believe he was going to be okay.
"Miss Jones, I'm talking to you" Mrs Combate said.
"I am aware of that" I said stiffly still not looking away from Jack.
"You're going to be okay" I whispered.
"Would you please turn around and tell me what has happened?" Mrs Combate said louder still.
The beast of anger inside me raised its ugly head and sniffed the air. Why couldn't Mrs Combate ask someone else? Couldn't she see I was looking after Jack?
"Would you please step away from Jack? You are in enough trouble as it is."
The angry beast inside me roared and released a torrent of fire as I pushed myself of the wet concrete and spun around to face Mrs Combate. How could she stand there a point a finger at me?
A braver person would have been intimidated by the stare she gave me but anger was pulsing in my veins. In that moment I didn't care she was giving me a look that would usually make me shrink into a corner. All I cared about was Jack and she obviously didn't. I fought to keep my voice steady as I spoke to her.
"Trouble?" I asked, "I'm in trouble?"
"Honestly Miss Jones I don't see how you could expect to get away with this."
I ignored the stares of the students surrounding us. Rain splattered down on the already wet concrete and I fought the urge to smack Mrs Combate across the face.
"Mrs Combate," I said trying to keep my voice polite and dignified at the same time, "If you would just let me explain."
"There is no need for explanations. I think its perfectly clear what has happened here."
"But Mrs Combate if you would just..."
"I am sorry Miss Jones but you can't..."
"Mrs Combate you asked me to explain but..."
"DO NOT INTERRUPT ME!" Mrs Combate shouted.
There was a vein pulsing in her head now and I swore in that moment it was going to burst through her head and splatter us all with blood.
"Now Miss Jones, if you would kindly make your way to the office where you will apologise to Matt and wait for the principle."
Disbelief and confusion started to mingle with my fury, surely she didn't think I had attacked Jack.
"That's not fair..." I began.
"I will not be interrupted!" Mrs Combate said it softly but with a voice full of authority, "I hardly need warn you that you are facing expulsion."
"That's insane! I didn't lay a hand on Jack it was all Matt, ask Danny!" I said thrusting my hand out in his direction and at the mention of his name Danny immediately sank back into the crowd.
"I will not listen to your lies" hissed Mrs Combate.
"You asked me to explain."
"A feat which you couldn't manage until you had come up with a satisfactory excuse" Mrs Combate said.
My breathing was coming out in short sharp bursts now. I was shaking, my hands were curled into fists and I was so close to crossing the short distance between me and Mrs Combate. All I wanted was to wipe the smug look off her face but as that wasn't going to help my argument I fought my instincts and keep my feet on the ground and me fists by my side. Suddenly Jack gave a small moan and I instantly forgot about Mrs Combate and my rage was all of a sudden replaced with concern. I knelt down beside Jack, he was pale, unnaturally so. I turned back to Mrs Combate.
"WHY ARE YOU STILL STANDING THERE? WHY AREN'T YOU CALLING A DOCTOR?"
I walked home that day with anger still pulsing in my veins. Jack had been fine but he had gone home early. Me on the other hand, I had to stay at school and endure stares all day. They were so used to me being quiet and hardly ever yelling at anyone. Breaking Matt's nose had been a real eye opener for them. All of a sudden I could hear my name being whispered in the halls and eyes followed me everywhere I went. I suddenly understood why celebrities broke down, they couldn't hack it...and neither could I. A single tear ran down my face but was quickly washed away by the rain. Insult after insult chased each other around in my head, all directed at Mrs Combate and all worse than the last. I ran the last few metres to my house and pushed the door open. I dropped my bag and walked quickly into the kitchen where I grabbed a muesli bar from the kitchen cupboard.
"Dad" I called, "Can you take me to the Zoote's? I want to see how Jack is."
My dad appeared in the doorway, some papers in his hand.
"Of course" he said a smile spreading across his face.
"I'm really proud of you" my dad said as he turned the key in the ignition.
Shock fluttered through me.
"Dad you realise I broke someone's nose today?"
The smile on my dads face grew and he turned to look at me.
"Rose honey, you stopped someone being brutally bashed. I think that guy got what was coming" he said.
The car came to a stop and I looked out the window to the small wooden house that belonged to the Zoote's.
"I'll see you later" I said stepping out into the rain.
I walked up the garden path, weeds and overgrown grass sticking out at me. As I stepped up onto the cracked wooden porch a few butterflies flew through my stomach.
What if they don't want me here?
I pushed this thought out of mind, stretched out my hand and rapped three times on the small blue door. After a few minutes it opened and Sally appeared. Her tear strained face split into a wide grin when she saw me. Her arms pulled me to her and she whispered;
"You saved my boy, thank you."