There are rumors going around about one of the frats on campus. Rumors about drugs and girls and mornings-after and, well. Kristen doesn’t like pussyfooting around it—frat boys at ΔEX have been date-raping girls, but nobody has officially come forward so the administration can’t do anything about it (if they even wanted to, which Kristen doubts). Kristen isn’t part of the official feminist group on campus—they’re fine and do a lot of good stuff, she’s just not really a joiner—but Alicia is, and she’s been venting the last couple days about exactly how little they’re doing about the whole frat thing. You know, that thing where they are date-raping girls. It’s not entirely the group’s fault; they are a university-funded group and they can give out condoms and throw all the rallies they want, but there is a limit on what they can actually do.
So when Kristen sees another crop of posters for a ΔEX party, she decides it’s time to take action.
“We’re doing something about this, right?” she says as she slaps a flyer on the picnic table in the quad where her friends are enjoying the sunny afternoon.
Alicia gets what she means right away. “I’m sorry Kristen, Feminista can’t really do anything, we can’t get our funding cut anymore and that means not rocking the boat right now.”
“No, I know, I understand. Which is why I’m asking you all. Anyone want to crash a frat party on Friday?” she asks, smiling viciously.
Alicia matches her smile and CJ’s face lights up as he starts to get it. “I think I have an extra thing of pepper spray if someone needs one,” he offers.
“I can see if Brit still has some of those drink-test strips,” Alicia says. They start getting down to details pretty quick, and it’s not long before they have a loose plan for Friday.
Kristen sits back for a second, proud of her crew. CJ notices and smiles warmly at her.
“Hey, thanks for jumping on this so quick,” she murmurs to him.
“No problem, it’s important,” he replies. “Besides, honestly, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, Kristen Protect-Girls-At-All-Costs Stewart.” His tone of voice is teasing, but Kristen knows he’s sincere. She fucking loves her friends.
It ends up being Kristen, CJ, Alicia, Scout, and Brianna and Jen, two of Alicia’s friends from Feminista, on Friday night. They meet up at Alicia and CJ’s apartment to go over tactics and pool supplies. Everyone else dressed up a little for the party—while still retaining comfort and a good range of motion—but Kristen’s just wearing her skinnies, shit-kickers, and a white tank. Although it’s not like she’d wear anything different to a real party, to be honest.
When they get there, it’s exactly like she expected. A crush of people, thumping music, a haze of smoke and sweat, free-flowing punch and beer and who-knows-what.
“Good luck, dudes.” Kristen sends her crew out into the crowd, taking a deep breath before she heads towards the kitchen herself.
She doesn’t find anything except people loudly getting drunk and grinding up on each other for a while. Kristen’s all for getting a little chemically-altered, don’t get her wrong, this just really isn’t her scene and it’s hard to get into it. She keeps circulating and being watchful, when she notices this dude. He’s definitely hot, definitely Kristen’s type—tall and broad, looks fit like an athlete but not a grossly-ripped gym rat. She considers taking a two-minute break to get his number, but as she considers it she notices how he’s also moving through the party, eyes watchful, and shit. She doesn’t recognize him as a Deck brother, but it’s not like she totally memorized the roster. Kristen doesn’t care how hot he is, she will take him down if he’s drugging girls. So she follows him for a bit.
Sure enough, after about fifteen minutes of trailing this guy, keeping one eye on the dude and her other on the rest of the party, she comes around a corner and sees him crouched down in front of a girl sitting on the stairs. He’s touching her arm, she’s obviously wasted, and as Kristen gets closer she can hear the girl slurring about how her friends left her—Kristen is definitely not a victim-blamer, but jesus, girl, and girl’s friends—and Kristen speeds up, pushing her way past the last few people between her and the pair.
“Hey! What the fuck are you doing?” she snaps, trying to look as intimidating as she can to a dude twice as big as her.
He looks up immediately. “Oh, thank god. Are you one of her friends? Never mind, doesn’t matter, can you just stay with her for a minute, please, I’ll be right back,” he says, and rushes off around the corner, leaving Kristen to watch him go in confusion.
She snaps back to it when the girl moans a little. Kristen eases herself down next to the girl, carefully getting her attention. “Hey, do you know that guy?” she asks.
The girl shakes her head. “No, but he’s cute ‘n really nice,” she slurs.
“Yeah, sure, okay,” Kristen laughs ruefully. He was cute. Shame that he’s probably a rapist. “Do you have any friends at this party? Anyone that can get you home?”
“No,” the girl whines, and to Kristen’s dismay, her face starts to crumple. “They all left me. Sarah and Anna went to Jade’s and Mel’s fighting with her boyfriend and now they’re probably having sex in our room, and I can’t find Amina, I think she forgot about me.” The girl sniffs. Kristen’s shit at dealing with crying people, but she scoots in a little closer, puts her arm around the girl’s shoulder.
“Hey hey, shhh, it’s okay. I’m here and I’m gonna get you home safe, okay? Now can you think for me for a second? Did that guy give you anything to drink? Even water or something, you need to let me know.”
But before the girl can respond, the dude’s back with another guy in tow. “Good, you’re still here. Thank you so much for watching her. Dan has a car, we’re gonna get her home,” he says, moving in to help the girl up. Fuck that. Kristen stands up, eyes blazing, and blocks his way.
“You gotta be fucking kidding me if you think I’m going to let two random guys neither she nor I know take her home.” The guy looks shocked at her outburst, eyes wide and mouth gaping, but his friend Dan drops his head in his hands.
“Christ, Tazer, you just rushed off to get me, didn’t you, without even telling her anything.” He reaches out to smack the guy, Tazer, Kristen assumes, in the arm. Tazer starts looking sheepish and guilty.
“Yeah, sorry,” he says to Kristen. “I probably should have said something. I’m Jonny, this is my friend Dan. Some friends and I decided to do something about the rumors going around, so a bunch of us are here looking out for suspicious shit. We have three cars, we’re giving people rides back to their dorms. Swear to god, you can trust us.”
Kristen eyes Jonny and Dan suspiciously. She wants to trust them (not for any ulterior motives, CJ), but she’s not sure. Dan’s holding his hands out, all don’t-shoot-style, and Jonny’s rubbing the back of his neck and turning red, from what Kristen can tell in the dim lighting.
“I feel kinda sick,” the girl groans behind her, and oh jesus, she better not.
“Okay, fine, here’s the deal,” Kristen says. “We’re going to take her outside and I’m going to text my friends a picture of you two and of her, and then we’re gonna wait until I get a text back. Then we can all take her home, together. And if at any point in all of that either of you decide to try something on either of us, I have pepper spray and I’m not afraid to use it.” They’re both nodding before she’s even halfway through.
“Great, sounds like a plan,” Dan says. Kristen eyes them for another second, but finally nods and turns back to the girl. Kristen and Jonny get her to stand and lean on Kristen, and they start to move through the crowd, Dan clearing a path in front and Jonny following close behind. They get outside no problem and Kristen makes them stand under a streetlight, the guys holding the girl up between them. She takes a picture and sends it to the crew, and then they all kind of stand there awkwardly for a minute as Kristen waits for someone to text her back.
“Oh, hey,” Jonny speaks up. “You want to write down our names? I’m Jonathan Toews, T-O-E-W-S, and my buddy’s Dan Watt, W-A-T-T.” Kristen nods her thanks, mentally kicking herself for not thinking of it, and texts that info to her crew as well. Right as she hits send, CJ texts her back.
got it call me in fifteen bb. if they’re legit you should bang the dude on the left, he’s totally your type
Goddammit, CJ. Kristen replies with a quick affirmation of the first part, completely ignoring the second, and tucks her phone back in her pocket.
“We’re good to go, guys.” Kristen takes Dan’s place and they start the trek down the block to his car.
Dan and Jonny get in the front without asking, and when Kristen gets herself and the girl settled in the back Jonny passes Kristen a gallon ice cream bucket. “Just in case,” he says ruefully.
“She better not puke in my car,” Dan mutters, and Jonny smacks him in the arm.
“You volunteered for this dude. And that’s what the bucket’s for.”
Kristen can’t help laughing a little. They’re obviously joking, the way close friends do, and she’s totally warming up to them. On the drive back to campus Kristen succeeds in getting the girl’s name, Emily, and her dorm room number. She spends the rest of the time chatting with her, trying to keep her from passing out, as Jonny and Dan have their own quiet conversation in the front seat about some sports team—maybe hockey?—they both follow, from what she can tell.
By the time they pull up in front of Emily’s dorm hall Kristen’s fifteen minutes are almost up, so she leans Emily against the car to dig out her phone. When she starts to list sideways Kristen puts her arm around her while the guys stand a few feet away, giving them space. So when Emily pukes in the middle of Kristen’s call to CJ, they get off scot-free while Kristen gets it all down the front of her shirt and on her shoes.
“Oh, motherfuck,” she swears. Once she explains, CJ just laughs at her.
“All right, I’ll let you take care of that,” he says. “As long as you still feel okay about your guys and everything. Leesh and I are walking a couple people home, so we can meet you at the gate when you’re done.”
“Sounds good, see you in a bit,” Kristen finishes up.
Jonny and Dan are both wincing when she looks up, Jonny valiantly trying to hold back laughter. Kristen rolls her eyes at him, but she can’t help grinning a little at the ridiculousness of this whole situation. She shakes Emily a little, asks her if she’s gonna puke again.
“No, I don’ think so. ‘M so sorry, you’re so nice and I just—I’m really really sorry.” Emily keeps apologizing as they drag her into the building and up the stairs to the third floor. It’s a freshman floor; Kristen can feel her anger coming back and it boils over when Emily’s roommate answers Dan’s knock. She’s in her pajamas, remnants of makeup smeared around her eyes and her hair wild; the room smells like sex and there’s a skinny shirtless dude sitting up in one of the beds.
“Emily? What’s going on?” she asks. She looks concerned, but still.
“Don’t ever leave a friend alone and drunk at a party ever again,” Kristen tells her, “especially at a ΔEX party.”
The roommate’s eyes go wide. “Shit, our friends were still there when I left. Is Emily okay?” Kristen sighs, softens her attitude a little.
“Yeah, she’s fine, because we found her before somebody else did, but it could have been bad. You know what, just don’t go to Deck parties ever again, they’re not worth it.”
“Yeah, okay,” the roommate agrees. “Thank you so much for bringing her back.” Kristen passes Emily over, making sure the roommate and her boyfriend are going to be okay taking care of her.
She sighs when the door finally closes, turning back to Jonny and Dan standing in the middle of the hallway. “Well, mission accomplished, I guess?” she shrugs, and they all share a tired smile.
As they start down the stairs, Jonny calls back to her over his shoulder. “I think I have a shirt you can borrow in the car, if you want.” Kristen looks down at herself, and oh yeah, right. Now that she notices it again, the smell of stomach acid is unbearable, and her shirt is sticking to her unpleasantly.
“Sure dude, thanks.”
When they get back to the car Dan gets in the driver’s seat again and Jonny digs through the trunk, emerging with a plain white v-neck. He turns his back while Kristen strips her shirt off and gingerly dabs at her torso with a dry part to try and get any residue off before she puts his t-shirt on. It’s huge on her, enough that she ties it up around her waist, but it smells good, like fresh laundry and a hint of good cologne, and Kristen can’t help wondering what Jonny smells like up close.
Jonny turns back around when Kristen tosses her old shirt in a nearby trash can. “Hey, we’re going back to meet our buddies if you want a ride,” he offers, palming the back of his neck.
“Nah, it’s okay, I’m meeting a couple friends across the quad,” Kristen replies a little regretfully. He kind of pauses before he opens the car door, but drops his gaze and shakes his head once, turning away.
“Hey,” Kristen says before she can help herself. “I’m really sorry for, like, thinking you were a date-rapist earlier. You guys are pretty cool.”
Jonny turns back to her, one hand on the door handle. “Thanks, no offense taken. I’m glad you were there to help her. It was nice to meet you, uh—”
“Kristen. Stewart.” She curses herself for how awkward she always is, especially to people she wants to hit on. And she totally does want to hit on him. He’s even more attractive now that she’s seen him a little more up close and in good light, and he seems like a really good dude. “Nice to meet you too, and thanks again for the shirt.”
“Of course.” He actually holds his hand out to shake, Kristen almost can’t believe this guy, but she takes it. It’s a good, strong handshake that lingers, if she isn’t reading too far into it; her stomach flutters a little and she can feel herself getting flushed. But she’s a fucking chicken at things like this, so she just steps back on the sidewalk to let Jonny get in the car. He pulls the door open, but right before he folds himself into the seat he turns back one more time. “Hey, it’s totally cool if you say no, I understand, but uh. Do you want to hang out sometime? With me. Get coffee or something, or like, dinner?” He’s biting his lip a little, dark eyes wide and sincere, and fuck he’s cute.
Kristen laughs and looks down, toeing the ground. “Yeah, sure. But I don’t kiss on the first date,” she rushes out, looking up hopefully.
A wide grin spreads across Jonny’s face, like he can’t help it, and he breathes out heavily for a second. “I’m cool with that.”
They grin at each other for a moment until Dan honks, and shit, Kristen totally forgot he was there. Kristen gives Jonny her number, feels her phone buzz in her back pocket as he shoots her a text. He finally gets in the car and waves dorkily as they pull away from the curb. Kristen waves back, probably looking just as dorky, but she doesn’t care. She sees Dan reach over and ruffle Jonny’s hair as they drive away, and her heart kicks a little in her chest.
Kristen gets endlessly teased about the perma-smile she has for the rest of the night, but it’s worth it, especially later when Jonny texts her—sleep well :)—as she’s brushing her teeth.