The Station's Late Nite Princess -chapter 27

 

The Stations Late Nite Princess cover art.png
Chapter 27 of
 
  The Station's
 Late Nite
  Princess

 

 

Chapter 27

 

District Attorney Rafferty greeted Marty at the door. "Marty. Come in."

Marty grunted and entered the Sheriff's office. He looked as if he'd been through a tornado.

"Hello Mister Crockett. Let me just say, I'm so sorry for what's happened." Sheriff Eric Dante said and offered a handshake, but understood when it was declined. "You're angry Mister Crockett, I'm sure you blame us all."

The silent treatment still came from Marty, as did the waves of fury emanating from him.

Dante sighed. "The clerk for the Juvenile Detention center has resigned and even offered to plead guilty to negligence."

"Marty, I know right now, you want to beat everyone with any kind of badge with your favorite bat. If I thought it would change things, I'd hand it to you and say 'wail away starting with me'. But it won't." Rafferty apologized.

Marty held up the drive. "This is the drive from the security system for my daughter's car."

Sheriff Dante accepted it and led them to the lab. It was given to a technician who hooked it to his computer. Dates and times were scrolled through and Rafferty pointed out the last entry.

"9:18 p.m. Start there." Rafferty said.

Marty nodded. "Dawn was leaving for the station."

"Wait. This is about Lux Noctis? Is this a video of her attack?" The technician asked.

Eric Dante nodded. "Play it."

The technician brought it up. The screen sectioned into four; the top two frames were front and back, the bottom two were left and right sides.

"Hold up." The technician said then looked back. "Hey, this has audio too! Here we go."

The video was played and they watched quietly. They even chuckled at some of conversation. Dante commented that she was a good driver. Then the final part came. They saw the other cars stop then report it to Dawn and her response. A turn was made and she seemed to slow down. Suddenly lights flared and a truck plowed into the car's front end.

Marty clenched his fists as the video continued. He saw every vicious punch, heard every hate-filled word. Rafferty was making notes. Finally the video ended as Ren was seen disconnecting the drive.

"That's it." The technician said.

Rafferty was still making notes. "Make a copy. Marty that has to be taken into evidence."

"Vehicular Assault, Aggravated Assault, Flight, Conspiracy to commit Aggravated Assault, Aiding and Abetting, Harboring a Fugitive, Obstructing Justice. I can keep going." Sheriff Dante said.

Rafferty nodded. "Me, too. Illegal use of a movable, improper lane usage, failure to stop, failure to yield, reckless operation, creating road hazard, impeding traffic and disturbing the peace. If one of them had taken off his own shirt, I'd throw in public indecency too. Oh wait, I can charge them with rioting."

"Rioting? Are you sure?" Dante asked.

Rafferty nodded. "When Dawn was initially attacked in school, I looked it up. Federal law defines Riot as: A public disturbance involving (1) an act or acts of violence by one or more persons part of an assemblage of three or more persons, which act or acts shall constitute a clear and present danger of, or shall result in, damage or injury to the property of any other person or to the person of any other individual or (2) a threat or threats of the commission of an act or acts of violence by one or more persons part of an assemblage of three or more persons having, individually or collectively, the ability of immediate execution of such threat or threats, where the performance of the threatened act or acts of violence would constitute a clear and present danger of, or would result in, damage or injury to the property of any other person or to the person of any other individual. So, yeah."

The technician turned around. "Unlawful Assembly?"

Rafferty made note. "That's good too. I'd throw in parading without a permit, but nobody was just standing around watching."

"The car lot owner tried to claim they stole the vehicles, but his Detailer informed that Shaw and Stillman showed up there and he gave them the keys personally." Dante commented. "A member of Shaw's so-called church."

"Yeah well Shaw has a lot more charges against him. Including Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution. He was pimping his secretary and recording the sessions then used those recordings to coerce. I got a gift box from that P.I. Shockley. It even has Nelson on camera." Rafferty explained. "Nelson has his own problems. We found his blackmail material on the police department. He's toast."

The technician asked. "Can these guys be charged under Hate-Crime?"

Rafferty shook his head. "Not this time. If none of them hadn't encountered her before, yes. The first time, Daniels could and was charged under hate-crime. This time it was a personal grudge. A revenge attack. In some ways, it's worse. In others, not so much."

"I want them BURIED. Every last one." Marty said.

With that he turned and left.

"Raff. I'm going to give you some free advice." Sheriff Dante said as he watched Marty leave. "Don't make any deals. Throw everything you can at them."

Rafferty nodded. "If I don't Eric, I fail every person in this county. I can't do that. I have to win and win with a sledgehammer."

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dawn had been happy to see her grandmother come in. The first thing Anna had done was demand Dawn be admitted to a shower. Anna had her sit down on the floor for safety and bathed her, even washing her hair, herself. Afterward, while Dawn napped, Anna read the nurses the riot act. She had found pieces of glass still in Dawn's hair. Anna, being a doting grandmother, had made sure to stop by Marty's house and packed necessities for her granddaughter. Dawn was sleeping much better now tha she was wearing something of her own, instead off the hospital gown. Had her jacket been less bulky, the beating would have been worse along her torso. Luckily her still healing ribs had been protected enough by the thick cushioning jacket.

Doctor Livelle visited before Dawn went to sleep and replaced her bandages.

"Hello Dawn. I'm the one that worked on you. I won't take long. Ok?" Doctor Livelle asked.

Dawn nodded slightly. "They won't let me see a mirror. Am I that bad?"

Rich Livelle sighed. "You are not. The catch is, that you might be scared when you do see. I want to keep your stress down. You have a moderate concussion so you need to be calm. Your nose was broken very badly and your cheekbone was fractured. That's bad news. The good news is I was able to set all the small bone pieces for your nose and a bonus was, I manipulated the cartilage. Without complications, I'm fairly certain you may even be cuter. Not that you needed it."

Dawn gave a slight smile. "Thank you."

"Doctor. Is there anything special we should do?" Anna asked, looking worried.

Rich reached over and patted Anna's hand as she held Dawn's. "You can do the most important things! She'll need coldpacks to reduce the swelling and bruising. The cold also helps with pain, so she'll need less medication. I know you will make sure that those coldpacks get good rotation. Also she needs to stay calm and rest. No doubt, you will make sure she does THAT."

Anna smiled. "Oh, I most certainly WILL."

Rich smiled back then looked back to Dawn. "Trust me. I do GREAT work. You're my first celebrity though. When my team found out you were who we were working on, they were so upset. They all listen to your show and love it. I do too."

"I'm going to be so bored." Dawn complained softly.

Livelle smirked. "Revisit childhood. Grammy can read you stories!"

"That's not a bad idea." Anna remarked.

"Don't worry. I'm only keeping you until day after tomorrow, because of the concussion. Otherwise I'd release you today. Doctor Hollamon is in agreement. If I hadn't insisted, he would have. He said he'd be by to look in on you later." Livelle said and winked. "Well, I have others to mock and torture. Get some rest."

"Thank you Doctor." Anna said.

Dawn tried to smile again. "Thank you."

Rich Livelle winked and left.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Ryan Shockley pointed to the warehouse door. "In here. Want to do the honors?"

"Don't mind if I do. since I have the warrant." Sheriff Dante said then used a pry bar to force the door open. "GO."

The four Deputies rushed inside, followed by Dante and Shockley. Ryan made it a point to put his hands in his jacket pockets as he looked around.

Dante looked at the spray painted wall. "Theater of Pain. I guess somebody was a Motley Crue fan."

"From what I've heard all these private wrestling gyms have some kind of name. Now the story on this one is, Stillman and Daniels were able to rent this place back in the day. They actually worked their butts off and bought it while they were still in high school. They kept the place, using it to train. When Stillman became a coach, he inducted his wrestling teams in. This is where they were hiding." Shockley said.

One of the Deputies called out. "HEY, SHERIFF. COME SEE THIS."

Dante went over but asked Shockley. "What is it?"

Shockley shrugged. "You let me in. I just found the place."

"You knew it was the right place." Dante said pointedly.

"I never went in." Shockley stated.

Together the walked over to the Deputy and saw on the wall a street map with several highlighted routes to the station that all converged to a single point. The point where Dawn had been ambushed.

"Sheriff, I think this kind of nails the lid shut on premeditation." The Deputy remarked.

Shockley sighed. "If it didn't, her picture with that kitchen knife sticking in it would. Darts could be passed off as a joke, knives sunk halfway to the hilt have a definite meaning."

"Get forensics in here." Dante said. "Rafferty is going to have a field day with all this."

 

~*~*~*~

 

Casey Daniels looked rough. First the beating from Jack Collins, then the pepper spray followed by tasers. When they were taking him out of the car to be brought in for processing, he tried to break for it. His attempt was unsuccessful, only going three feet before the batons came out. Finally came a beating from in a cell itself.

Transgender or not, Lux Noctis had the most popular show on radio. The guards liked it and listened which was fine because so many of the prisoners did too. The fact that Casey Daniels had been part of the reason they weren't listening to a live broadcast didn't set well. Simple fact, no matter how good a show was, nobody liked re-runs. In fact, the cellmates of all who were not required to stay in the hospital made their displeasure well known, with their fists and feet. In Shaw's case, a venture into the communal toilet was included.

Rafferty sat down across from Casey Daniels and his attorney. "Daniels, you have got to be the STUPIDEST person alive. Counselor, advise your client I'm going to flat-out BURY him. If he pleads guilty, I'll agree to a facility in a different state for an additional 65 years to original sentence. Otherwise, he's going into Maximum Security for life without parole."

The Attorney sat back. "Ridiculous."

"Considering what I have, not in the slightest. We found their super-secret hide-out. You're screwed." Rafferty said then laid out the photos taken from their gym.

Even the Attorney was shocked. There was no way to play this down, much less off. Rafferty did have them and all that was left was to swing the hammer to nail them all to the cross.

"I need to discuss with my client." Attorney Bales said. "Privately."

Rafferty shrugged and left. "Whatever Skip. Its all over, but the shouting."

"Casey, plead guilty and you might not die in prison. Otherwise you aren't coming out, except in a box." Skip Bales stated.

Casey glared. "Bull!"

Skip sighed. "You escaped. Automatic fifty years to original sentence, no deal. You escaped, planned to attack your previous victim and did so, attempting to murder. Rafferty can lock you and throw away the key literally. Not even O.J.'s dream team could get you a lesser sentence. Every victims' rights advocate group will be here tonight. This story went NATIONAL. If you die within the week, the best I could do is get you an unmarked grave to keep your body from being desecrated."

Something about Casey's demeanor didn't set right with Skip. Also his complexion. Casey had a redness to him that shouldn't be. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a photo that had shifted. He picked it up and looked at it. A vial from a pack. Anabolic Steroid.

"Were you given a urine or blood test?" Bales asked.

Casey grunted. "No."

Skip asked flatly. "Did you shoot up yesterday?"

"None of your business!" Casey snarled. "Just do your job and get me out of here!"

Skip slammed the table. "That WON'T happen, YOU made damned sure of THAT!"

Skip got up and went to find Rafferty.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Rafferty hadn't been sitting around bored. After leaving interview with Casey Daniels he went to Terence Shaw.

"You're done Shaw. You know it, I know it." Rafferty stated.

Attorney Bob MacElroy replied flatly. "My client is prepared to plead guilty to the attack but only in the case of Aggravated Assault. He did not support the plan for murder. That was all them."

Rafferty shook his head. "His fingerprints were on the picture of Miss Crockett that had a knife through it. He obtained the vehicles through a member of his 'church' and he was there encouraging them during the attack itself and participated. He's going down. That's only 20 years. Everything else we found on him, which that case hadn't gone to trial yet, would tack on another 120. Hope you like quiet places Shaw, I'm putting the motion in for you to be in ADX. Administrative Maximum Facility, Colorado."

Bob gawked. "A CMU? That's overkill!"

"Nope. It would be a very BAD thing if Shaw got into a prison and decided to start sharing all those nasty little tricks he knows to con people and so on." Rafferty smiled. "That's how big of a problem you became Mister Shaw. You two might want to start thinking. You're not young Shaw, thirty years could be a lifetime in your case."

Rafferty walked then. All the others, including Stillman were going to plead guilty. Stillman knew he was done for and the parents of the others had gotten to them, refusing any protest of innocence or anything else but guilt. They were not happy people. He had already met with the judge. She was going to show no mercy.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Four o' clock that afternoon Dawn looked up as the door opened and was dumbstruck. Angela walked in, wearing a white dress with what looked like an apron with red and white slim vertical stripes.

"Angela? What are you doing here? And what's with that get-up?" Dawn asked.

Anna laughed. "I didn't know they still had Candy-Stripers!"

"What?" Dawn asked.

"Uh. HI." Angela said and waved. "Yes Ma'am. But I'm pretty much the only one."

"What's a candy stripe?" Dawn asked.

Anna smiled. "Years ago, girls that volunteered at hospitals wore that apron or even a blouse with those stripes to show they were volunteers. Since it was the candy cane colors they were called Candy-Stripers. They assist nurses, clerks and do cleaning."

Dawn nodded. "Oh. Well, you look cute in that. So how did you get into it?"

Angela checked under the bed for a pan or bottle then answered. "I was working weekends at the retirement home. This one lady kind of just, I don't know. We just connected. She used be a nurse, but started out as Candy-Striper. Just before she died, she asked the Administrator here to let me come be a Candy-Striper. Her uniforms fit so she gave them to me. Doctor Coleman said he wouldn't refuse such a last request. He even said she had been his nurse when he had been in this hospital. So here I am."

"Giving thought to becoming a nurse?" Anna asked.

Angela blushed. "Maybe. I still like doing voice-acting. If I can do both, maybe I will. I like the children's floor. I read them stories and can use my voices to make it fun for them."

"That sounds nice dear. What about off hours though? Surely some young man has caught your eye?" Anna poked at her.

Dawn interrupted. "Grandma!"

Both of them saw the blush at the same time though. "THERE IS?"

Angela fidgeted and shied. "Um."

Anna smiled. "Well, don't keep us in suspense. Tell us all the tawdry details!"

"Um. His name is Mark. We met at the retirement home. He visits his grandpa every Saturday. He lives over in Springvale and goes to Valley High. A Junior." Angela confided. "we've been dating for a while now. that's why you haven't been hearing much from me."

The nurse came in and saw Angela. "There you are. Hanging out with the hostess with the most-est I see."

Dawn laughed. "Actually Angela is my friend. We go to school together and have a couple of classes together too."

"Oh? Is that so?" The nurse looked impressed. "Well, sorry to break up the girl-talk, but there's a lot to do."

"Later." Angela said then followed the nurse out.

"Wow." Dawn remarked to Anna. "Now we know what Angela's been up to."

Anna nodded. "I think she's found something that suits her. You do have to admit, she does look adorable in the outfit."

"It is nice. Why did the nurses switch to wearing scrubs?" Dawn asked.

Anna thought about it. "Convenience, maybe. Probably. Scrubs are more than likely easier to care for than the dresses. Less costly too I imagine. When I was younger, only the staff that worked in Operating Rooms wore them. Now just about everyone does for some reason or another. A friend of mine hired a cleaning service once, the four that came to clean the house all wore scrubs. She didn't approve. Can't say I blame her. I'm certain they could have something study and easy to maintain that is suited to that work other than Scrubs."

Dawn lay back and closed her eyes. "The dress looks better."

Anna just chuckled and let her try to nap again.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Marty had come in and stayed overnight. The next day, Anna came in again to relieve him. Marty however, went to work instead. Doctor Livelle visited and checked her over and said she would be able to go home the next day, but not return to school until the following week. Likewise with work.

Marty had filed multiple civil suits; against all of the attackers and the car lot owner as well. With the car lot owner however, the settlement wasn't going to be much. Elliot Rabb, Marty's attorney recommended that he only pursue the cost of a brand new car since Dawn's had been written off as totaled. Marty decided to go for blood and stated he wanted a new Corvette and one year of full coverage insurance, in Dawn's name.

The man replied the only way he could. "What color would she like?"

Dawn was only paying half attention when Marty came in that night and handed her some papers to sign. She knew it was a car, but wasn't too concerned. Late the next morning Doctor Livelle released her to go home. As Marty was pulling into the driveway Dawn pointed.

"Who's here?" Dawn asked.

Marty parked. "Nobody. Why?"

As Dawn got out she pointed to the Corvette. "Who's car is that?"

"You mean the 2017 Black Rose Stingray Corvette?" Marty asked.

Dawn wanted to roll her eyes, but thought better of it. "Yeah Dad. THAT one."

Marty looked at then shrugged. "Well, since it's your car, I guess you're here."

"ACK!" Dawn choked then stared. "MINE?"

"Yeah. You signed the papers yesterday. I had just enough time to get it registered and everything this morning before I came to get you. I'll put on the license plate later. No driving until Saturday though." Marty told her. "You're still on bed-rest."

Dawn reached into his truck and took her purse. Marty snatched her bag before she could grab it and pointed to the house.

"You're going to be in bed in five minutes or you'll be grounded." Marty ordered.

Dawn went to the door and unlocked it as Marty followed close behind. She was in her bed three minutes later.

Marty nodded. "If you take a two hour nap. You can watch one episode of your favorite anime."

"Ok." Dawn replied and laid back. "Turn on the radio, please. They didn't have one in the hospital room."

"That's fine. I'm going to go get the rest out of the truck." Marty said as he turned on the radio.

Dawn nodded and tried to go to sleep. Marty had to make several trips to bring in all the flowers. The balloons and plushies she sent to the children's floor saying the kids needed brightness more than she did. Along with flowers, she received many brief visitors. All were horrified by the bruising and bandages covering her face.

Of course, Chris visited everyday after school. Dana Colby, Ren, Jack, Charlie and Cindy Peterson, Blair and Dina also made appearances. Blake and Lyle had been the first though. Two hours later a knock on her door came.

Dawn had managed to sleep some and sat up. "Come in."

The door opened and Ryan Shockley entered. "Hey. Looking a tad rough there."

"Like you wouldn't?" Dawn asked.

The P.I. pulled over the desk chair and sat. "Oh I would, but it wouldn't be as big a deal. You being a girl, it is."

Dawn sighed. "Oh. So what's up?"

"I came by to apologize." Shockley replied.

That surprised her. "Apologize? Why?"

Shockley leaned forward. "Shaw slipped me and joined up with those psychos and went after you. I didn't drive ahead to scout the roads before you went to work. I could have followed you to work. There's a bunch of things I could have done and this mess wouldn't have happened to you. That's why."

Dawn sighed. "What were you doing when it happened?"

"Illegally searching Stillman's bank records trying to find where they were hiding." Shockley said. "Don't repeat that."

"You were looking for them. You didn't do wrong by me. Shock, I'm surprised they came after me. I was sure that Casey would be doing everything he could to sneak out of town. I didn't think he was THAT stupid, to come after me. You're ok. I got no complaint about you." Dawn said.

Shockley frowned. "I still could have done more."

"You, Dad, Blake. Everybody. Everybody is blaming themselves and none of you did anything wrong. I blame those assholes. Besides, haven't you been the reason why everything against the station kept failing? We ALL thought bail-out and they went with beat-down. I already figured out that hind-sight is neither a redeeming characteristic nor an endearing one. Personally, I find it annoying. You were looking everywhere, but you're just one person, Shock. I'd still call you if I have a problem. No complaints." Dawn stated.

Shockley accepted that. "You're the best. Want some good news?"

Dawn nodded. "Sure."

"All of them are pleading guilty. All the wrestlers are getting 15 years before they are eligible for parole. Stillman gets another 20. All of them were steroid users so he gets contributing and distributing along with the aiding and abetting charges with conspiracy, Aggravated Assault and a bunch of others. That punk Casey is going to get pretty much life. Escaping Juvie is only five years, but he was an adult and being transferred to an adult facility so technically, he escaped from there. Normally that's only 25 years, but because of his previous charges, Rafferty is going for the maximum. That's 50 years. Throw in all the new charges, basically he's getting life without parole." Shockley informed her.

"So I'm going to be safe from them?" Dawn asked.

Shockley nodded. "Yeah. I do want to ask you; were you aware that all of them were on steroids?"

Dawn gave him a look of disgust. "Duh, everybody knew. I think the only ones that didn't know, were the Principal and Vice-Principal. Nobody said anything, because they didn't want to look like THIS."

"I had to ask. They've all been tested and came back Hot. Even Stillman. Two of the flunkies admitted that he gave them the regime and oversaw their cycles." Shockley said.

"Ok. So all that's the good news. What's the bad?" Dawn asked.

Shockley shook his head. "I haven't told you the best part. You won't have to testify. That security system for your car does it for you. You can go to the trials, but you won't be called to testify. Plus, they all agreed to plead guilty. Except Daniels, but like I said; the video testifies for you. According to Rafferty, Daniels' lawyer has tried to convince him to change plea, he thinks anything he does is fine. He even said as much. His problem is, he can't even go for a diminished capacity plea. He's an asshole, not crazy."

Another knock got their attention followed by Linda Dalton entering.

"Hello Dawn." Linda said. "Sorry I couldn't come see you before. Dear heaven, Dana wasn't embellishing about your injuries." Linda said then looked sad. "Perhaps I shouldn't have said it like that."

Dawn shook her head. "I know how bad I look Mrs. Dalton and it fine. I know you were busy. Ren-senpai said its been hectic at school."

Shockley had stood up and offered her the chair, so she sat down. "Thank you. Yes, it has. Several things have come to my attention. If there hadn't been such intentional efforts made, I'd swear I failed you all. I had no idea exactly how much influence Richard Stillman had exerted through force. A former student came to visit me. He told me a horror story of the treatment he had been subjected to because of Richard."

"Mrs. Dalton. Answer this honestly. If you knew everything Stillman and the wrestling team were doing, what could you have really done?" Dawn asked then said. "I'll answer that myself. Nothing. To be really honest, I think they would have done something to you if you had tried. Remember Mrs. Daimler? She'd been a teacher for a long time and then one day, she just up and quit. Know why?"

Linda shook her head. "No and I was upset about it. I thought Amber and I were good friends. She not only quit, she refuses to have anything to do with anyone."

"A definite gang-rape threat will do that." Dawn commented.

Linda's jaw dropped. "No! They threatened to rape her?"

"Stillman held her by the jaw and said that not only would him and the team do that, they'd grab her husband and tie him up to make him watch them do it. Casey reached up under her dress and ripped her panties off. She didn't come to school the next day. I thought they did it and killed her, until I saw her at a store." Dawn told her.

Linda dropped her head in shame. "My God. I knew nothing. I feel so ashamed now."

Dawn just shrugged. "After seeing that happen, nobody wanted to say anything. Not even me. I figured if I said anything, they'd go after her for sure thinking she had. I only did what I could for myself. I had nothing lose."

Linda moved to sit beside her and hugged Dawn. "I'm so sorry Dawn. I failed so many."

"No you didn't." Shockley stated. "One thing I've learned and Dawn reminded of just a little while ago, I'm just one person. So are you. Those guys were determined to do as they pleased and had no problem being vicious to anyone that got in their way. Talk to your friend. Rafferty may not be able to prosecute them on it, but something else may be able to be done."

Linda took a tissue from her purse and blotted her eyes, just barely saving her make-up. "I guess you're right. I still feel horrible though. I should go see her. Thank you Mister Shockley. Dawn, I'll see you Monday. I think."

"It's up to Doctor Hollamon and Doctor Livelle." Dawn said. "Good night Mrs. Dalton and thank you for the flowers. I gave the cabbit plushie to a girl in the children's ward though. I gave all the plushies away to them. I though it would be nice."

"Yes. That was very sweet of you. I'm not surprised. Don't ever change Dawn, you're a lovely girl in many ways." Linda hugged her again then made her way out.

Ryan Shockley nodded. "She's right. You are lovely girl in many ways. Definitely on my Way-Cool list. That Corvette kicks ass. I might have to get one myself."

Dawn smiled. "Too flashy for a P.I. You're not Magnum."

"Hey, I do have a life you know." Shockley said pointedly. "Gotta go. Take it easy."

 

~*~*~*~

 

The weekend went very boring for Dawn and Monday morning she was actually glad to try going to school. The bruising was still bad but the swelling was almost gone. There was no way she would be able to cover up the bruises with the make-up she had so threw regard to the wind and skipped it.

At the shopping center parking lot a crowd awaited her to show up and they were shocked and pleased to see her driving the new car.

"WHOA!" They all called out as she pulled into the space beside Ren Miller.

He went over and opened the door. "Welcome back Hime!"

"Arigato Senpai." Dawn said and got out.

Several gasped now seeing her face clearly. One by one, the girls came up and gingerly hugged her. The boys all looked angry, that it had been done and they had been powerless to do anything about it.

Jeb carefully spit to the side and looked to Dawn. "Sorry I didn't come see you in there. I got a thing."

"They weren't going to work on YOU." Wendy glared at him.

Jeb shrugged. "I hate them damn doctors. Keep telling me to quit riding."

Wendy hugged Dawn again. "Ignore him, a big baby. You ARE going to be ok, right?"

"Yeah. The doctor worked on my nose. He said it would look even better because of something he did." Dawn confided.

Ren had grabbed her backpack. Dawn already had her purse and turned around to lock the car. The few girls there formed a small cluster around Dawn as they walked to the school. Of course, the Rodeo club members disposed of their dips just before the corner. As Dawn walked inside, again she was greeted with applause. There was also a big banner welcoming her back.

Tara Danvers, the head cheerleader, nervously walked forward and held out a large folder piece of cardboard. "Welcome back Dawn. I know we're not friends. I admit I was cruel to you before. There's no excuse for the way I was. I'm sorry to have been that way. I hope you forgive us, but won't blame you if you don't want to. Please, if you need anything at all, just say so. The squad will help you. We made this card and everyone signed it. Everyone."

Dawn could see that Tara was trying not to cry. "That must have hurt to do and say that Tara."

"No." Tara choked out shaking her head. "What hurt was, to finally realize how horrible I had been. No, how horrible WE had been. On behalf of the entire school, please accept our apologies. Please, stay here. We promise, you will never be hurt again."

"Stay? Am I going somewhere I don't know about?" Dawn asked.

Tara blinked. "You're not going to go to the private school? There was talk that you were. That you felt we were all to blame for what happened."

Dawn shook her head. "No Tara. I have a friend that goes there. Trust me, as bad as you all were, they are worse over there. I'm not leaving. As for blame, I blame the ones that did this to me. It's their fault and they are going to pay for it."

Dawn looked around and an idea hit her. "I will accept apologies, but I am going to ask for two things. First is very important. If you took Mrs. Daimler's class last year and were there when Coach Stillman came into her class, talk to Mrs. Dalton. She needs to hear what happened. I told her what I saw, tell her what you saw. Second; from now on, be kind to anybody like me, in school or out."

Everyone called out. "DEAL!"

"That's very good. Let's get our day started. Those that want to see me, please do so now." Linda Dalton announced.

The crowd began to move, parting for Dawn to go to class as they clapped.
 
 
 
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