Disclaimers- LOTS! This story contains violence (both sexual and otherwise), a romance between two young (just turned 18, or nearly so) women, and hurt/comfort scenes. I don't believe any of these elements are gratuitous. If the thought of any of this raises your hackles, get out now! Also, if you are under 18, go do your homework and come back when your parents don't have to sign things for you anymore. If you live in a place where this kind of thing is illegal, you should consider moving.
Since this is more or less an uber tale, I should acknowledge all rights to the television program "Xena: Warrior Princess" belong to MCA/Universal, Renaissance, and probably other people and organizations that have a lot more money than I ever will. Any resemblence between characters in that show and this story are quite deliberate. I have no intention of making any money whatsoever from this story. It's all in fun -- just a thank you to all those bards out there who make surfing the Xenaverse so enjoyable.
By the way, a gridiron is a football field. If this idea strikes you as hopelessly mid-western America, you've got the idea!
A slight, fair-haired girl sat on a rock overlooking the moonlit ocean, her lowered face taking in none of the beautiful scene. Dejection poured from her slumped shoulders.
Kelli Harris had spent the whole summer away from her secret obsession. She was used to spending the warmer months at her parents' summer house, many miles from her home and school. Usually, it was a lot more fun. Her best friend had always been able to come for at least a couple of weeks, but this summer Gina had refused her invitation, in a clipped conversation that frankly shocked Kelli.
For years they had shared their hopes and dreams with each other, but the last month before summer vacation Gina had become more and more withdrawn. She had stopped inviting Kelli over, and had been spending more time at home instead of with Kelli and their other friends. At first, Kelli thought that Gina had guessed her secret, but Hannah, Perry, and Steph had all complained of Gina's sudden distance. Kelli had worried that her friend was ill, and had approached her about it. Gina's answers were short and grew increasingly hostile until Kelli left her alone.
She supposed that she shouldn't have been so shocked by Gina's refusal after all. She'd just been so hopeful -- She loved Gina to distraction, and was so unsure what to do about it. Now, it seemed as though she might never know if Gina felt the same way. Kelli had been too afraid to say anything last school year, and now it may be too late. Well. School was due to start next week, and Kelli hoped that Gina would be back to her old self. She didn't think she could stand to go through their whole senior year without gazing into those blue eyes, and stealing the occasional hug.
Kelli raised tear-filled eyes to the sky. "God, I need her so much. Please give us a chance." Squaring her shoulders, she rose and went to finish packing for the trip home.
The first day of school passed without Kelli and Gina crossing paths; most of their classes were at different times this term. This was the first time they had signed up for their classes separately; in previous years, the two girls went to scheduling together, but that last month of junior year Gina didn't share her time with anyone. Kelli felt her absence keenly, and for the first time she started to feel anger toward her friend. "Couldn't she have even tried to see what classes I was taking?" Kelli muttered.
"D'you say something, sweetheart?" asked Scott, who was sitting to her right.
"Nope, just talking to myself." "Whatever." Scott immediately forgot the conversation, but continued to look at Kelli out of the corner of his eye. They had gone out a few times the previous year, usually double-dating with Kelli's friend Gina and her boyfriend Bill. He and Bill were both on the football team together and got along well, but Scott could never see what either Kelli or Bill saw in Gina. Sure, she was tall and nice looking, but Scott thought she was a showoff. Too smart for her own good and way stronger than a girl should be.
"Kelli, can I drive you to practice after school?" Scott asked. The football field was only a mile and a half from the main building, but this would be a good chance for Scott to show off his new car. He know that Kelli would be going to the cheerleader tryouts.
"Uh, okay, Scott, that would be nice." Kelli had been planning on trying to catch up with Gina after school, assuming that Gina would even be going to tryouts. Kelli was thinking about how much she had missed Gina all that summer and now she was wondering if Gina had even thought about her. It wasn't a pleasant thought, and Kelli felt like something was breaking inside.
That first sight of Gina at the practice field felt like it happened in slow motion. Kelli approached her from behind, scarcely breathing. Gina started to turn, when something sped toward Kelli's head from the other side of the field. Gina plucked the football out of midair and spun around, rocketing it back to the person who threw it.
It was Scott, and the impact of the ball doubled him over and knocked him on his butt. Furious, he started across the field, but was overtaken by the coach. Scott stopped, stunned. Coach NEVER moved that fast for anything that didn't involve food, or the team....
"Oh no," he whimpered. Not that. He wouldn't dare. But by then, the coach had approached Gina, and Scott knew that something worse than any nightmare he'd ever had was happening before his eyes.
Kelli listened in shock as Gina was asked to try out for the football team, for Scott's position as quarterback. She couldn't believe any of this, and what was worst of all was that during all this Gina had never once looked at her. Now she was absolutely furious with Gina, and all her thoughts of pursuing their long friendship were forced deep inside, along with the hurt. It never even occurred to her that Gina only caught the ball because it was going to hit Kelli.
Gina was stunned. She hadn't even intended to go to the cheerleader tryouts. They were silly and a bit embarrassing; the only reason she had ever joined in the first place was that Kelli wanted her too.
Kelli -- the very thought of her made Gina tremble. She missed her best friend desperately, but didn't dare approach her. Kelli was obviously angry with Gina. It was no wonder. Gina figured that after the way she had treated Kelli the last month of junior year the smaller girl would be mad. Gina was surprised when Kelli had extended the usual invitation to beach. Gina was deliberately rude about refusing. That should have been the last straw for Kelli. Gina even made sure that none of their schedule overlapped so that she wouldn't be tempted to renew their friendship.
It was killing her to be so cruel to the person who meant more to her than anyone else in the world, but she couldn't risk continuing their friendship. She had to keep Kelli safe, and Gina's life wasn't safe anymore.
Her mother had remarried two years before, and everything had been fine for a while. George, her stepfather, wasn't a very nice man, but he wasn't really around that much so Gina ignored him. She couldn't ignore him any more. George had been out of work since April, and was at home a lot more. He drank a lot, and Gina suspected he'd been taking a lot of pills too. She couldn't imagine why her mother married this jerk. Of course, her mother was never around very much. Gina was just about to say something when her mother announced that she was being transferred to Germany. She had arranged to go alone so that Gina could finish her last year of school. "Your step-father has agreed to stay with you, Gina, isn't that wonderful?" Gina was too shocked to say anything, especially with George standing right there. And soon after, her mother was gone.
It was then that George took over her life. She came home from school one day to find George in the kitchen making dinner. It was a peace offering, he said, to let her know that he wanted to improve their relationship. They ate, and soon she began to feel dizzy and disoriented. "I put a little something extra in the food to help us 'make up,'" he'd laughed, and dragged her to the basement.
He tied her hands behind her back and forced her to her knees. The drugs she'd been given made it hard to concentrate. Gina tried to scream for help but before she could put together a coherent thought, George forced his erect penis into her mouth. When he was done, he pushed her to the ground and fastened his pants. "Don't think about telling your mother, you little whore. You have so many drugs in your system right now that a hospital test would get you arrested. She'd never believe you anyway, once I get done telling her what a slut you are. I bet you liked it, didn't you?"
Gina was shaking from the chill of the basement floor and from what had just happened. She felt disconnected from reality; the drugs were only part of the cause. This couldn't be happening. She had to get away; that's it. She'd run the first chance she had and get help. Then he sat down in a stool and sneered. "I can't wait to get my hands on that little blond who follows you around. Now she's REALLY my type." His laughter was harsh and cruel, and Gina gasped, "Please, no! You can't hurt her!"
"Oho, now I have you! I knew you had thing about blondie. I'll make you a deal. You keep me happy, and I won't touch her. If you try to run away or tell anyone about our little games, I'll tie her to my bed and fuck her senseless. I'll take her cherry, and then I'll beat her to death. How'd you like that?"
Gina's mind was in a whirl -- there was no way out for her, but at least it wouldn't be for nothing if she could keep this monster away from Kelli. She couldn't think about herself anymore, it was too painful. All her strength would now have to go to protecting her best friend.
Unfortunately, the only way that she could think of to protect her friend was to drive her as far away as possible. That left Gina with no real anchor, and she just got more and more distant and angry.
Football became her only outlet. She not only made the team, but was quickly named quarterback. This infuriated Scott and his constant harping about Gina just blackened Kelli's feelings more. Gina could put up with Scott's glares, but Kelli's left searing scars across her soul.
The first game went very well for Gina. After some mild outcry about a girl on the team, the fans rooted for her enthusiastically. Her passing game was excellent, but the coach had learned in practice that her rushing game was even better. Gina was as tall or taller than all the other players, and what she lacked in body mass, she made up for in speed, agility, and determination.
In fact, she scared him a little bit sometimes, when her anger got the better of her and she would deck some member of the opposition with a solid body block or an elbow.
Gina still saw Bill once in a while, although she made sure that he never came near her house. She couldn't really avoid him, since they were both on the team. Luckily, her step-father had not tried to make Gina quit the team. She thought the idea of her and all those guys tackling each other turned him on. She shivered, the last thing she wanted to do was turn him on. His sexual appetites were already more than she could bear.
The next game of the season took place on a chilly, rainy night. It was a home game, and the field was a mass of mud. By the middle of the first quarter the announcer was having trouble identifying the players because of the filthy uniforms. Their gold on black uniforms were covered with clumps of mud -- even the gold swirls around their shoulders. Gina's was really the only uniform that was still legible, probably because the offensive line was so protective of her. Just before half time, their team was winning 16-0, and Gina was getting ready to pass the ball for short yardage. They were on the 12 yard line, and had a good chance of getting another touchdown if the pass was completed. The ball was snapped, and Gina faked left and dropped back to pass. Bill, who played right tackle, moved to block the other teams defensive lineman, and suddenly found himself on his back when his foot slipped in the mud. Gina saw something BIG moving her way fast, and reacted.. He had his head down for the tackle when she was suddenly gone, her left hand pushing down on his helmet as she vaulted over his head. Gina hit the ground running, and was in the end zone before she realized what she was doing.
The crowd was on its feet cheering; even some of the visiting side joined in. The cheerleaders were all screaming the team name, "Warlords!" All except for Kelli. She sat down hard on the bench, and didn't move until well into half time. Part of her wanted to run across the field and give Gina a hug, but the rest of her just felt cold. Gina didn't want her around, and she didn't even seem to care about making the touchdown. Gina had just dropped the ball and headed off the field.
By the end of the third quarter, everyone had noticed that Bill hadn't returned after half time, and word soon spread that the coach had been really angry at him for "falling down on the job", and Bill had quit on the spot. Their team didn't score again during that game, and if Gina's moves were rougher than normal, it was probably because she had just lost her last friend.
The next Monday at school was hard for Gina. The guys all congratulated her on the great play, except for Scott and Bill who sat in the corner of the lunch room and glared daggers at her until she got up and left. The few girls who had still been talking to mher stopped, and they were giving her some odd looks. She would have just stayed at home, but George's attentions were the last thing she wanted.
Just after Chemistry, and another round of stares, Gina ducked into the girls' bathroom and locked herself in a stall until she could get her equilibrium back. Just as she sat down on the toilet lid, several girls came in and gathered around the sinks to primp and gossip.
"So, did you hear what they're saying about Jumpin' Gina?"
"Oh, I know. I'm sure the jumping part happens both on and off the field." The other girls giggled, and Gina's breath caught in her chest.
"I couldn't believe it when I heard, but that explains why Kelli won't go within a mile of her anymore. Jesus, no wonder she's out there playing football with the guys."
"Yeah, I wasn't surprised at all she's a lousy homo. I wonder why it took Bill so long to tell everyone." The girls finished up and left the bathroom. Gina felt more alone than she ever had in her life.
Gina dragged into her house that afternoon, dreading being home, and dreading being anywhere else. For the first time, the hopelessness of her situation was making her consider a much more final option, and the very thought made the room spin around her. She grasped the back of the couch to steady herself and closed her eyes.
Gina never saw George enter the room with the whip and a leather collar. He came up behind her and pushed her down across the back of the couch. She barely whimpered as he secured the collar tightly around her neck and wrapped the whip around her wrists.
"Downstairs, bitch. I have a surprise for you!" He dragged her behind him with the whip and descended the stairs so quickly that she fell past him and landed hard on her shoulder. She felt something pop, and a tearing pain that made her realize it was dislocated.
She lay there moaning as George glared at her for a moment. "No way you're ruining my fun, clumsy whore!" He grabbed a handful of hair and dragged her head up so that she was looking straight at the new addition to the basement. It was a set of two wooden beams bolted together in a large X, complete with leather straps at the top and bottom. Gina's eyes widened, and then she screamed when her step-father stomped his foot down on her dislocated shoulder, resocketing it painfully. Her head hit the floor when he finally released her hair, and she went numb, barely feeling it when George wrenched her injured shoulder around to undress her.
When George had her stripped, he grabbed her by one of the metal rings on her collar. "So, shall we put you up frontwards or backwards? I have the urge to use the whip, but on your back or your tits? Decisions, decisions."
Gina knew she couldn't take much more, and realized that there really was a way out; one that would protect her beloved Kelli. 'If he's arrested for murder, she'll be safe forever....'
"Go to Hell, you stupid bastard!" Gina screamed at him and punched him with her good arm as hard as she could. She knew she didn't have a chance against him; he was half a foot taller and outweighed her by a hundred pounds. What she wanted was to make him mad. She wasn't disappointed.
"What the fuck? I'll kill you!" He slammed his fist into her mouth and let go of the collar, letting her fall to the floor. Gina spat blood, and almost bit through her tongue when George kicked her hard in the ribs. He kicked her two more times, strapped her to the X, and raped her. Her body hurt so much that she barely felt the whip tear across her breasts. George didn't even notice when she passed out.
Kelli was sitting in the bleachers, rehearsing her speech to the Cheerleading coach. It was about the hundreth time she'd been through it, but she just couldn't figure out how to tell her that she was going to quit. She didn't enjoy it anymore. Really, she couldn't remember the last time she'd really felt happy about anything.
She was startled when her coach sat on the bench right beside her. "Kelli, I need to talk to you about Gina." Kelli froze, and the coach continued, "You see, I live down the street from her house, and frankly, I'm worried about her. She's gotten more and more withdrawn since her mom moved out, and I don't like the way she reacts to her step-father when I see them together. Is there something going on there that you'd like to tell me about?"
Kelli stared at the coach. "Gina and I, um, haven't really been friends since last year." She swallowed hard. "Her mom moved out? When?!? What do you think is 'going on'?"
"But you've been friends for years! Oh dear, I thought I hadn't seen the two of you together lately, but I hoped I was wrong. If she doesn't have anyone, she could really be in danger."
By now, Kelli was on her feet, shaking so hard she couldn't speak above a whisper. "What kind of danger? What do you think is going on?" The coach looked around a little nervously, "Well, everything I've seen makes me suspect she's being abused, but...." Kelli didn't hear the rest the sentence; she left the field at a dead run and didn't look back.
Kelli ran the first mile to Gina's house and had to stop for a moment. Her side was cramping up, and she felt sick to her stomach. Why hadn't she tried harder to find out what was going on with her friend. Friend, hah! She didn't deserve to have any if she stood by and let them be hurt. Another surge of nausea hit her square in the gut, and she started running again.
Bill and Scott drove down main street, scowling. Neither of them had any reason to be in a good mood since that lesbo bitch stole their positions on the team. Damn her anyway, Scott thought. I'll teach her what her place is! He spun the wheel and turned the car toward Gina's house.
"What the hell are we doing here?" Bill asked as Scott brought the car to a screeching halt in front of Gina's house.
"We're going to teach her a lesson, that's what! Or haven't you got the balls for it?" Scott stared at Bill expectantly.
"Balls for what? What are you going to do?"
Scott threw open the door and stamped up the front yard. "Follow me and find out, unless you enjoy the whole school laughing at you. We can have her off the team and get our old positions back before homecoming!" With that, he kicked in the door and entered the house. Bill ran after him, not knowing what to expect.
Kelli was puffing and limping by the time she stopped in front of Jen's house. She bent over with her hands on her thighs and tried to get her breathing under control.
Just as her head stopped pounding, a middle-aged lady in a housedress came up to her. "Are you all right, honey?"
"Yeah, just need to get my breath back. Mrs. Simmons?"
"Yes, you're Kelli, Gina's friend, aren't you? Look, we're worried about her. I saw two boys go into the house a little while ago. It looked like they might have broken in, but I wasn't sure." Kelli's head whipped around and she recognized Scott's car. 'Oh God.'
"Call the police right now! Gina's in trouble!" Kelli tore across the yard and up the stairs before Mrs. Simmons could react.
"Oh dear." The older woman bustled back into her house and dialed 911. Kelli saw the damage to the door, and her heart lurched. All the love she had ever felt for Gina came rushing back. Kelli was in agony. 'What do I do?' She knew she should wait for the police, but when she heard raised voices coming from the basement, she started in that direction. When she heard Gina scream, Kelli abandoned all thoughts of caution, opened the door, and pelted down the stairs.
When Scott got to the bottom of the basement stairs, he knew he'd hit the jackpot. That damn girl was naked and trussed up, just waiting for him! He started across to his prize, unzipping his pants, when he heard Bill gasp behind him. "Scott, you can't do this! We have to call the police!"
"What the Hell for? I just want to get my turn first, then you can call whoever you want." He hit Gina hard in her bruised with his fist, and she woke up screaming. "That's what you get for stealing my place on the team, bitch!"
"The police are on their way!" Kelli ran down the stairs so quickly that she crashed into Bill's back. Then she looked up and saw Gina. The taller girl was strapped hand and foot to a wooden monstrosity; she was barely conscious. Blood from her mouth covered her chin and chest and more dribbled from the diagonal welts across her chest. Huge bruises covered most of her left shoulder and the right side of her torso. Gina was whimpering softly from pain. Kelli sobbed her friend's name. She knew that this wasn't all her fault, but she blamed herself anyway. Then she saw Scott approaching Gina, stroking his exposed penis.
Kelli jumped over the side of the stairs and threw herself between Scott and Gina. "Get out of here, Scott! The cops are coming! Don't hurt her any more!"
Scott laughed. "Hey, babe, I didn't do this. I think that step-father of hers got there first. I just want my fair share. And I didn't hear you making any phone call. Now get out of my way!"
"Come on, Scott! Let's get out of here!" Bill turned and ran back up the stairs. Scott shook his head and grabbed Kelli by the shoulders.
"So, I guess you'll get your turn first, babe."
From behind her, Kelli heard Gina speak in a raspy whisper, "No, leave her alone. Kelli, get out of his way and go! My step-father will be back soon."
Kelli did the only thing she could. She grabbed ahold of Scott's arms, pulled him toward her, and kneed him in the crotch as hard as she could. Scott hit the floor just about the same time that the police stormed down the stairs.
Gina lay in the hospital bed with her left arm secured with a bandage. Kelli sat in a chair beside the bed, just watching her sleep. The police left a few hours before. George had gone out to a liquor store and was caught on his way back to the house. He saw all the police out front and pulled a 180 right in the middle of the street, colliding with a parked car. The officers who pulled him from his car weren't any too gentle -- they'd seen how Gina looked in the basement before the EMTs started working on her. Her mother was on a transatlantic flight; the police were debating whether to charge her with reckless endangerment.
Gina twitched and cried out in her sleep, and Kelli dove for the bed. The taller girl awoke with a start and pushed Kelli away, not realizing at first who she was. Gina shook her head to clear it and looked up at Kelli, who sat on the edge of the bed with tears streaming down her face. "I'm sorry, I .... You came to the house. Why?"
"Because I finally realized you were in trouble. You drove me away on purpose, didn't you? To protect me."
"Yes. He talked about you all the time. I couldn't let you anywhere near him, or he'd have hurt you too. I couldn't stand the thought of him touching you." Gina looked down at her hands, unable to keep looking at Kelli's intense gaze.
"Why?" Kelli felt like she couldn't breathe. Did Gina mean that the way it sounded?
"Because I love you." Gina looked back up at Kelli. "Please, say something. And breathe! Your lips are starting to turn blue!"
Kelli took a deep breath and smiled. "Gina, why are you looking at my lips?"
Gina opened her mouth to answer, then closed it again. She reached out with her good hand and stroked the smaller girl's cheek. Kelli turned her head and kissed Gina's hand, then threw caution to the wind. She leaned forward and brushed her lips across Gina's. It was Gina's turn to stop breathing. Kelli whispered in her ear, "I love you, too. So, want to go to the Homecoming Dance with me?"
Gina burst out laughing, "Jesus, Kel, they just got used to me as quarterback! I don't think this town is ready for to elect me Homecoming King and let me neck with a cheerleader!"
"I think it's up to me who I neck with, um, you did mean me, right?" Kelli chuckled. "I think we can get away with the dance as long as we don't slow dance together."
"But I don't want to dance with anyone else," Gina said in a husky burr. "Kel, you need to know that you are everything to me, the most important person in my world and the keeper of my soul. We always talked about waiting for our knights in shining armor, now I know who mine is." Gina cupped Kelli's cheek in her hand. "Let me tell you about my knight, my hero. She's gorgeous and brave. She has golden hair and eyes like dew-covered grass on a Spring morning. She vaults over stair rails to rescue damsels in distress. I love her and will be hers forever."
Kelli was crying softly by the end of this impassioned speech, an enormous smile on her face. "Well, let me tell you about my beloved knight. She's beautiful and strong. She's tall with coal-black hair and eyes like sapphires. She is undefeated on the field of battle, and would throw herself into the mouth of a dragon to keep me safe. I love her with everything I am, ever have been, or will be."
With that, Kelli leaned in and kissed Gina, a deep, searching kiss that was anything but platonic. When they were forced apart by their need for oxygen, Kelli nuzzled Gina's neck. "I feel like we just got married."
Gina just buried her face in Kelli's hair and laughed. But the laughter soon gave way to deep sobs. Kelli was glad that the doctor warned her about this. In fact, he'd said that it might be a long time before Gina could let anyone touch her. Obviously, this didn't apply to Kelli. She wrapped her arms around Gina and held on tight.
"I'm here forever, baby," she whispered in Gina's ear. "I'll never let anyone hurt you again."