Characters in this post
View character profile for: Dante Hawthorne
View character profile for: Dawn Melody Jefferson
View character profile for: Courtney Hellford
How To Help A Friend (part one)
JP with Cindy and LSP
Takes place on Minion Day
Dawn’s time in the dance studio before breakfast has been surprisingly quiet. No one else had come in which rarely happened. The girl figured it was because it was Minion day.
So, she finished up and heard back to the girls' dorms. By the time she got there though April had already left for breakfast. So, Dawn took a shower, got ready, and glanced at the time. She had enough time to meet Dante without being late.
She had texted him her breakfast order but was polite and nice about it, it actually was more of a request than an order. It was a pretty simple order with a veggie omelet, whole wheat toast, coffee, and a water.
Once she was ready Dawn headed to where she'd meet Dante for breakfast. It didn't take her long to get there, just a few minutes. She looked around. Noticed the couples. She saw April who seemed to be holding a conversation with Justin which was nice. JD and Rose apparently did something the monitors didn't like as they were told to stop....which made her bite her lip to keep from laughing. Part of her found it funny and part of her wanted that to be her and April.
She then looked around to see if she could find Dante.
While she was looking around a message popped up on her phone.
"Got it, give me a few minutes I'll have it to you." he told her.
Eventually, Dante showed up, carrying a metal tumbler mug, and a paper plate covered with foil, her requested breakfast. He sat the meal down in front of her and pulled a water from his jacket pocket. The last thing on her order, then from the opposite pocket he pulled out a foil-wrapped square.
"I hope you enjoy your breakfast." he told her, "I'll be right back." he said pointing to the square. "Gotta take this to someone then I'll be right back." he said giving her a butler bow. He was truly only got a few minutes, before he returned. "Was it to your liking?" he asked. "Make it myself. But don't let that stop your critical assessment of it. Can only improve when people give feedback."
Dawn was surprised by the presentation. The food looked homemade and not from the cafeteria like she had expected. She could only assume he had been allowed to use the home ec room as no other place in the school let the kids cook in it.
She nodded when he said he had to deliver something. The food smelled good and tasted better. She was just finishing up when he returned.
"It was really good," Dawn commented. "Thank you for going out of your way to make it."
It was clear from her voice she was still surprised by the gesture.
"So, you're talented musically and can cook. Got any other talents?" She knew Dante but really hadn't had many conversations with him. So, she was a little curious about him.
"I've got a lot of hobbies." he said, "I'm not sure they all qualify as talents. Some are just skills I've acquired. Hard to list them all."
Dante pondered it for a minute. "Reading people, and helping them is something I particularly excel at." he said. "Not everything, of course, I'm no mind reader, people can and have kept things from my gaze but that said, I am still fairly good at figuring people out."
"But enough about that, I have a question for you if that's okay. Why buy me and your minion?"
She sipped her water as he talked. She didn't have much time for hobbies but she had a few of those.
A nod came when he said he was good at reading people and helping them. It was a good quality to have
"Sure," Dawn didn't mind answering his question but she had thought he had been filled in. "Oh, you don't know."
Taking a moment she then said, "Ok, let me try to explain what happened. Rose, you know Rose Newhall? Well, she overheard some of the rich girls saying that they were going to buy a bunch of the guys and make them walk around on leashes. She got the names of who they were going to do that too and it was decided to prevent that from happening. Invited a bunch of girls to a meeting, pretty much any of them that aren't part of the rich kids’ group. The girls who had boyfriends got their boyfriends but the rest of us basically picked names out of a hat. Any of the scholarship students either had another girl sponsor them or Rose did. It's also why some of the couples today might seem random. I got you. Anyway, we were just determined to not let the guys be humiliated like that." She paused. "I hope that doesn't make this weird or anything for you. I didn't realize you didn't know."
Dante shrugged nonchalantly. "Nah, not weird. Reasonable response actually." he said, "I was just hoping it had nothing to do with the show at the beach trip. I've got a few hang arounds I've had to change my path to class to avoid." he let out a little laugh. "And as long as you don't make me do something like that we will be fine. I'm pretty hard to humiliate."
"I'm surprised my name as on the 'leash list', any clue as to why that would be?" he asked. "I've been sort of out of the loop. Helping out some people with problems, can't detail that though. Doctor-patient confidentiality."
"Oh, no. I mean you were good and everything at the show but there is someone else here I like. And she's sitting over there." Dawn subtly pointed out April as it wasn't outing April and Dawn wasn't one to keep her sexuality a secret. "And I promise no leashes."
Dawn shrugged, "I'm not sure. I know some of the guys were on there because they hang out with scholarship students. The rich kids seem to think anyone who has money that hangs out with anyone that doesn't is a traitor. I think it's ridiculous but their words." She nodded about him not being able to talk about who he was helping. "That's understandable."
Dante nodded again, "Oh trust me I know." he said, "I thought Doug was going to throw himself across that table when I told him I'll sit where ever I want." he said, "Understand that, good to know I'm not going to be arm candy." he joked.
"Well is there anything else you'd like me to do? Next task and all that," he said. "You're paying for it might as well get use out of a butler."
When Dante mentioned Doug practically throwing himself across the table. Dawn nodded. "I bet. He's always been a... snob." She has a few other words to describe Doug but decided against them due to the monitors on the cafeteria. She let out a slight laugh about him not being arm candy. "Well, not from me."
"Hmm... I guess just carry my stuff mostly. You can help me in the dance room during gym....I can get you out of gym for it. If you want. "
Right then Dawn's phone buzzed with a text. "This will just take a minute. " She sent two texts and then put her phone down and looked back at Dante. "Sorry, about that. It was my brother, oh. I have a double date tonight so you don't have to worry about dinner or anything."
"Getting out of gym would be nice." he said. "And good to know. Hmmm I'll need plans of my own then." he commented, but his brain caught up. "I don't know you had a brother. But then again, I've let a lot of stuff escape me recently. I must be losing my skill, might be getting rusty." he joked.
"Zander is my brother. My twin actually. He skipped a grade." Dawn responded. There had never been any jealousy or really sibling rivalry between her and Zander.
She thought for a moment about mentioning Doug. Dawn knew Dante was helping Courtney and Conner with Melissa but didn't know if he knew that she and Zander were as well. It was a lot to get into right now though maybe in the dance studio she'd talk to him about that as she had signed out the room for that time.
"That makes sense," he said. "Well, just let me know what you need me to do in the dance room. Not something I know a lot about."
"Ok." Dawn agreed and finished her water. "Thanks"
She paused as she heard one of the monitors tell another couple to cut out whatever they were doing and she shook her head and turned her attention back to Dante. "Where'd you learn to cook?" Just curiosity, really.
"My nonna on my mom's side." Dante said, "She was hoping to pass it down to a daughter but she got me instead." he joked. "She was great though. I learned other stuff on my own, but she instilled that drive to cook in me. But also gotta give credit to my mom. Refused to let anyone cook for her." he added as they walked to the dance room. "Plenty of videos online to teach you recipes and if you got the basics you can cook way more than you'd expect you could."
"Oh, one grandmother has taught me a few things about cooking. My moms, grandma, and I all do this big baking day around Christmas. My other grandmother though, while she's also great, she can't cook or bake and has no interest in it." Dawn commented.
They reached the dance studio and Dawn walked inside. It seemed like a pretty typical dance studio. Mirror's on two of the walls, a dance bar along one edge. There were a few chairs off to one side and a closest. Off to the other side was a door.
"If you could go into that closet, " Dawn said, "pull out the speakers. And just put them over there." Pointing to a wall near an outlet. "'ll be right back." She took her backpack and went off to through the door on the other end.
The speakers weren't very big but it was one less thing Dawn had to do herself in her time using the room.
It didn't take her long to come back, she had changed into something better to dance in. The door she had gone through led to a small changing area.
Once Dawn had left the room Dante lifted the speakers putting them right where she asked. He was done before she got back and he shot off a few text messages before pocketing his phone and waiting for her to return. Knowing Dawn was part of the group helping to keep Mel as safe as they could but himself being more of a free agent he wasn't sure what she had wanted to talk about in regards to that.
"Thanks, " Dawn said when she saw the speakers. She turned picked up a remote turning the speakers on, and down a little so they weren't too loud. Then turned on her phone and tapped a few things. Music started to come out of the speakers.
Dawn turned it down just a little more and then said, "If you can grab two chairs. One for yourself, if you want one to sit on, and I'll need one placed here." As she pointed to where on the floor to put it.
"I mostly just need you to make sure I have backup in case I screw up this move I'm trying to learn, so, I'm not in here by myself. It's unlikely but better safe and all that." Dawn explained.
Dante did what she asked, going to get two chairs putting one out of the way, and the other where she asked him to.
When she explained the reason for the chairs and all the help he gave a shrug. "I'm sure you'll do great, and if you don't well practice makes perfect and you'd not be the first person I'd have to carry to the nurse." he half-joked.
Checking his phone one last time before making sure it was on buzz only as to not disturb Dawn.
She started by stretching. It was easy to talk to him through that.
"I know you're helping Mel. I'm guessing you know Zander and I are, as well?" That was asked as more than a question because she didn't know for sure.
Dante gave a small nod. "Yeah, and I figured as much. You and Mel seem like fairly good friends and Zander seems like an okay guy so, for what little I know not surprised."
Dante paused a beat. "Your brother Doug sure hates me." he laughed. "Though sort of seems like he hates just about everyone but his own reflection," he added.
Dawn couldn't help but laugh at Dante saying Doug hates almost everyone, "Well, that's true. He certainly hates Zander and me." She paused. "I mean he's always been, kind of like that, but it's gotten worse more recently."
Dawn was still stretching. "Zander and I never expected him to be this bad, when we got here. We figured he'd do what he always does and use Mel then dump her. So, once we found out that Doug was interested in her we thought we'd figure out a way to warn her. But things escalated so quickly and to a point we never suspected." Dawn didn't really even know what to say about that. She sometimes felt like they missed something but she couldn't figure out what.
"You know him better than anyone, this is abnormal?" he asked. "Never done anything like this, not even close to it?" Dante asked. "He does seem obsessed with knowing who she's with and who she's talking to." he thought aloud. "He's not worried about cheating. At least I don't think. I think, he thinks she's too scared to do that. But if you ask me, it can't be fear alone. If that were the case she'd likely just go to an adult."
"Yes. I mean he's never cared about anyone but himself. He's also wanted a sense of control in any situation but I've never seen him be this extreme." She thought for a moment. "He's always been a bully with Zander as his number one target. I wonder if the fact that most girls don't go out with him after a few dates might have stopped it in the past. He usually goes a few dates and uses the girl but sometimes he gets a little controlling like trying to tell the girls what they should order or wear and many girls don't go out with him after that. Still, even that isn't like what he's doing to Mel." She did some more stretching. "I think you're right, that he thinks she's too scared to cheat. He has something on her. I'm almost sure of it." Dawn stopped for a moment and said, "Zander and I think that Doug is hiding something. It's something that Doug doesn't want to come out but we can't figure out what it is." Dawn stood up. "Doug has always had a ...disconnect ....between himself and everyone. Even our moms. I'm not excusing Doug's behavior at all but I sometimes think something happened to him before he was adopted by our parents."
Dawn wasn't sure why she was telling Dante all of this, except, he seemed easy to talk to and maybe he could see something that she was missing. (edited)
Dante scratched his chin thinking. "Sounds like he needs to be force-fed medication." Dante said, "Because somehow I very much doubt he'd take it on his own." he added as he thought. "It's strange though." he leaned back. "He's got everything he could want, or pretends to, and trust me I know money doesn't buy happiness. But the big question still lies a mystery. Why Mel. Even if he could get or does have something on her, the level of control he's attempting to extort is...wells its risky. Doug's what seventeen, eighteen? Mel is fifteen, it does have something he's holding over her head it can't be good but would mean he'd be tired as an adult. All I'm getting at is that it must be deeper enough she's not even willing to risk shutting him up for good."
Dawn stopped for a moment and listened to Dante. She thought before responding. "I wish I could have more answers when it comes to Doug but it's not as if we've ever been close. As much as he's my brother, many times he feels almost like a stranger. The information he has on Mel might not be that bad but if Mel perceives it as bad or at least what might happen if it gets out as bad, wouldn't he also be able to control her just as much? I think Doug just found someone who was new, hadn't really had time to make friends, so she didn't have a support system here. Who also checked his boxes of someone he could have around the rich kids as she had money. She's pretty and a cheerleader. But she seems to lack self-confidence. I guess all that would make her a target for guys like Doug. The thing my brother probably didn't count on was Mel getting people wanting to help her. It really seems to bother him that anyone wants to be friends with her, well anyone he can't control." She stood up. "Doug only lets Carter spend so much time with her because he thinks he controls Carter. Otherwise, I'm pretty certain he wouldn't be alright with that."
"Makes sense." Dante rubbed the back of his head, "Doug makes himself out to be perceptive and like he's got his hooks in everything." He laughed. "He's not even figured me out, and that seems to really really push his buttons. That I'd dare to hang with both Scholarships and Rich kids." he chuckled, "If he knew the truth I think it'd make him madder that I got buddy buddy with Mel." he smirked. "But I can't see why you'd not want to be close to that. Reminds me a bit of my dad. But...shhh. The public can't know that." Dante said with an uncaring tone.
Dawn jokingly pretended to lock her lips and throw away the key, "Your secret is safe with me."
She moved across the floor to the other side so she could use more of the floor, got ready to try the move she needed to practice when a knock could be heard on the door. Dawn opened the door to see Courtney standing there. Dawn moved to the side to let the other girl in.
"Hey," Dawn greeted Courtney. "What's going on?"
After giving Dante a little hello wave, Courtney explained, "The basketball coaches gave the upperclassmen a free period so she could work with the Freshman. I found out from Zander you two were here and I needed to talk to both of you." Courtney then added, "Hope that's ok."
"Sure. Is it about Mel?" Dawn's first guess because it seemed the most logical reason why Courtney would want to speak to both of them.
"Yes, I found some things out and I wanted to fill both of you in. It's kind of important to try to help her." Courtney had figured they should know but hadn't gotten to talk to either of them since finding out and it wasn't things she wanted to put in a text.
Dante gave Courtney a knowing nod, "Shoot." he said. "And don't leave out anything. I know you won't but you understand what I mean. I need everything I can to help end this." he said. "We can compare notes, but you likely already know as much as I do. Especially if Zander has his ear to the ground as much as I do." he pointed out, not suggesting Zander was a gossip but he knew people who were, and knowing Mel's danger would likely be keeping his ear out for any mention of her. "So what's the scoop, and I gonna have to ruin that model career of his?" Dante half-joked, but then got serious again. "Sorry, I joke when I'm too nervous. Go on."
Dawn had a feeling this might take a while, so she pushed the chair she was going to use closer to Dante. Completely forgetting about him being her minion for the day.
Courtney got herself a chair and put it by the other two. Putting her backpack on the floor before sitting down herself.