Uttering a scream of real pain now, Harmony staggered back a few steps, clutching the top of her head that had smashed into the upper torso of her collision’s body. More tears welled in her eyes, only increasing as she tried to lift her head, as another scream came from her at the sudden spike of agony in her neck. Harmony stood trembling at the overwhelming aches of her body, with its accompanying blindness as she was unable to see anything through her tears, or to hear much of anything over the roaring in her ears.
“Owww! Why don’t you….Harmony?! Hey, are you okay? Harmony?”
The girl felt her upper left arm being gripped strongly by someone and she was tugged in a direction by that person. Numbly, Harmony went without even thinking, her brain more than occupied with its hurts. After a few steps, the blonde was brought to a stop, and then she felt a downward push on her right shoulder. Still in a daze, Harmony, automatically bent her knees until she found herself sitting on a school bench, one of several along the field lines of the school football field.
“Wow, you hit hard, didn’t you, Harmony? Hey, is something wrong with your neck? Lemme see if I can do anything.”
Harmony was now looking down at the ground, her vision mostly blurred and her ears still ringing. She could see only a vague impression of someone’s lower body, which included their legs and feet, as that person sat down besides her and someone’s hand began rubbing her neck. Harmony whimpered, as the large, warm hand firmly massaged that part of her body. The hand stilled, pausing, as a concerned voice spoke, “Am I hurting you, Harmony?”
The girl, still unable to talk coherently, only shivered and tentatively shook her head. She could now do this, as there was less pain, while the hand resumed its skilled kneading, and the voice rumbled again, “Just tell me if I do anything wrong, okay?”
Harmony didn’t answer, but the fog of pain in her mind was beginning to clear, and as her neck muscles began to loosen and her head came up, she began paying more attention to the voice now starting to chatter. Not the words themselves, but the tone, the timbre, and the attitude. It all added up to one thing: simple kindness.
Harmony Kendall had not heard that emotion directed towards her this entire horrible day. She finally lost it.
The girl twisted on the bench, taking her fellow occupant by surprise, as she flung her arms around the stranger’s upper body to clutch that person hard enough to force out a whoof! of air from their mouth, and then Harmony let her head and upper body fall against her captive’s chest, as she started to wail at the top of her lungs.
Harmony’s heartache was totally in the moment. She never knew how long she was like this, until she calmed down a little to realize she was now being firmly embraced by big, strong arms, one of these with its hand gently stroking her hair and the back of her head. The person whose arms she was in was also comfortingly rocking her back and forth, tilting her entire body in a gentle rhythm, as a vibrant voice murmured soothing nonsense.
Of course, the girl reacted to this in an entirely human way.
“No…no! I don’t deserve this! I’m stupid, stupid, idiot, worthless, useless, tramp, just like she says! I can’t have anything like this! I’m stupid, stupid, stu--”
In an explosion of effort, the girl was brutally thrust away from her safe harbor, her body being thrown back and then savagely jerked to a halt by hands that clutched the tops of her shoulders hard enough to send stabs of pain through her, yet this hurt was forgotten as these hands began shaking her hard enough to send her head bobbing helplessly. Her ears were also assaulted as violently as the rest of her body.
“DON’T EVER SAY THAT! NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! NOT BY YOU OR ANYONE ELSE! NOBODY CAN SAY THAT TO YOU!”
Harmony was unable to look at who was shouting at her. Her jerking head, plus her eyes nearly swollen shut from all her crying made it possible for her to only see short glimpses of blazing brown eyes over a wide-open roaring mouth.
“NO MATTER WHAT PEOPLE SAY, YOU’RE YOU, AND NOBODY BUT YOU! BE WHAT YOU ARE, NOT WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT YOU, LIKE JUST SOMEONE TO BEAT DOWN AND HURT! I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE, AND YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT!”
At this, the hands came off Harmony’s shoulders. Deafened and trembling, Harmony’s head fell and she numbly stared at the heaving chest of the furious shouter, until that became still. Then, arms came around Harmony again, and gently pulled her against the other’s body. As they came together, she turned her head until the left side of her face came to rest on the upper body of the one holding her in the embrace, and she felt someone’s chin perch on top of her head. The girl heaved a deep sigh, and she allowed herself to totally relax, knowing instinctively she was safe and protected, as she hadn’t been since her father died.
Harmony would have willingly stayed that way forever; however, her body soon firmly reminded her that she needed to get home. The girl stirred, and the arms holding her relaxed at once, letting her loose. Harmony’s hands came up to rub her face, and she felt how damp it was from all her weeping. She groped for her purse, only then realizing she had left it back in her school locker. A look of dismay appeared on Harmony’s face as she glumly thought there wasn’t any hope of Kleenex or tissue at hand.
A voice spoke over her head, as the other’s arms started unbuttoning their flannel shirt.
“Here, Harm, use this. You can even blow your nose on it, since it’s already got girl cooties on it.”
For the first time that day, a smile passed over Harmony’s features, and she even managed a giggle. She watched in growing interest as fingers finished unbuttoning the shirt to pull it off, showing a bare and strong male chest that was fully revealed as the shirt was offered to the girl.
Harmony took the shirt and lifted it to her face, cautiously rubbing at first, and then harder as she enjoyed the soft, cool cloth on her overheated face. And yes, she did blow her nose on it, to the mock-anguish sounds of disgust coming from the other.
Now that she could again breathe easily through her nose, Harmony smelled the strong male scent clinging to the shirt, mixed with soap and deodorant. It sent tingles down her spine, as she finally looked up to see who had comforted her.