Was it the dangerous things you do? (Jezebel) - Chapter 6 - poppystardew (2024)

Chapter Text

The cobblestones beneath Jimmy's feet felt strangely smooth tonight. The usual tension in his shoulders had eased, replaced by a lightness that had him humming under his breath, a tuneless melody that danced in the cool night air.

He hadn't planned on staying so late. Studying wasn't exactly his forte, but somehow, with Noa by his side, deciphering Mr. Galloway's cryptic history notes became almost…enjoyable. Almost. There had been a lot of "almosts" lately where Noa was concerned. They'd fallen into a comfortable routine – stolen glances across the cafeteria, whispered jokes during Mr. Crabblesnitch's droning lectures, and now, these late-night study sessions.

He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, the worn leather a familiar comfort. The way his stomach did a nervous flip whenever she brushed against him, the way his heart pounded a frantic rhythm when their eyes met – it was all uncharted territory for him. Jimmy Hopkins didn't do feelings, not really. He dealt in defiance, in a carefully constructed persona that kept everyone at arm's length.

So why Noa? She hadn't exactly fallen all over him. No grand declarations, no stolen kisses under the hallway bleachers. She was just… Noa.

He stopped at a crossroads, the path leading left to his dorm, right to hers. He hesitated, the unfamiliar pull towards her room a foreign sensation. Was it just friendship? The thought felt hollow. There was something more, something electric that crackled between them whenever they were together.

Taking a deep breath, he shoved his hands over his shaved head. Maybe it was the way she challenged him, the way she saw through his tough-guy facade and dared him to be more. Maybe it was the way her laughter, bright and genuine, chased away the shadows that had clung to him for so long.

Left, the familiar, slightly depressing path to his dorm. Right, towards Noa's dorm, a beacon in the darkness that pulled at him like a loose thread.

Every stolen glance, every whispered joke, had been a step closer to this moment, a moment he wasn't sure he was ready for.

Just as he took a tentative step towards Noa's dorm, a guttural voice shattered the night air. "Hopkins."

Jimmy whipped around, his heart hammering a frantic tattoo against his ribs. Derby, stood smirking under the flickering streetlamp, two of his cronies flanking him like hyenas.

"What's the hurry, Hopeless?" Derby drawled, his voice dripping with mock concern. "Going to tuck your little girlfriend in?"

Jimmy's jaw clenched. He hated the way Derby twisted everything, turning a simple act of friendship into some kind of pathetic romance. But before he could retort, Derby shoved him, the force sending him stumbling back a few steps.

"Just here to remind you, Bullworth ain't big enough for the both of us," Derby snarled, his smirk widening. "You, on the other hand…" he trailed off, his gaze flicking towards Noa's dorm, "well, let's just say some places aren't meant for you."

The air crackled with unspoken threats. Jimmy's hands curled into fists, the familiar anger warring with the unfamiliar urge to protect. He couldn't back down, not with Derby trying to intimidate him in front of… well, not in front of anyone, technically.

But the thought of Noa witnessing this, of him appearing weak, stoked the flames of his defiance. He squared his shoulders, meeting Derby’s gaze head-on.

"This ain't over, Harrington," he growled, the words laced with a steely resolve. "You mess with me, you mess with the wrong guy."

Vance laughed, a harsh, grating sound. "Big words, Hopkins. But words don't win fights." He lunged forward, throwing a punch.

Jimmy reacted instinctively, adrenaline flooding his system. He dodged the blow, the fight years of scrapping on the streets taking over. But this wasn't a street fight. This was Bullworth, and Derby, despite his swagger, had muscle.

The next few moments were a blur of punches, shoves, and grunts. Jimmy landed a few solid hits, but Derby’s goons quickly joined the fray, overwhelming him with their numbers. A sickening crack echoed as Derby smashed his fist into Jimmy's jaw, sending him sprawling onto the cold cobbles.

Derby loomed over him, a cruel smile twisting his lips. "See? Words are all you got, Hopeless."

Just as he raised his fist for another blow, a voice, sharp and unwavering, cut through the night.

"Leave him alone!”

The shout pierced through the haze of pain clouding Jimmy's vision. He blinked, trying to focus on the blurry figure standing between him and Derby. It was Noa, her face a mask of fury, her usually calm eyes blazing with defiance.

Derby scoffed. "Look who decided to join the party, Hopeless' little girlfriend."

Noa ignored him, her gaze fixed on Jimmy. "Are you alright?" she demanded, kneeling beside him, her touch sending a jolt through him that had nothing to do with the throbbing in his jaw.

Jimmy mumbled a weak "yeah," surprised by the warmth that bloomed in his chest at her concern. He watched, head throbbing, as she turned back to Derby, her voice surprisingly steady.

"What is wrong with you, Derby?" she said, her voice laced with a steely edge that surprised even Jimmy. "Just leave him alone."

Derby's smirk faltered for a moment, replaced by a flicker of something akin to respect. He wasn't used to girls talking back, especially not like this.

"This ain't your fight, sweetheart," he finally drawled, his tone less menacing. “Hopkins here has been f*cking around with Pinky, I get to teach him a lesson over it.”

Noa took a step forward, her body language radiating a defiance that belied her small frame. "No you don’t,” She snapped.

The tension crackled in the air. Jimmy watched, a mixture of amusem*nt and something deeper stirring in his gut, as Noa faced down Derby and his goons. Maybe, just maybe, there was more to her than he thought.

A dark flush crept up Derby's neck, betraying the unexpected challenge. "Mind your own business, Jew girl," he spat, his voice tight. "This doesn't concern you."

Noa's jaw clenched, but she held her ground. "It does concern me, Derby. f*ck with Hopkins and you’re f*cking with me,” She spat. “f*ck off, or I’ll scream for Mrs Peabody.”

Derby's face contorted in a mix of anger and surprise. No one, especially a girl like Noa, ever talked to him like that. His goons shuffled their feet nervously, the bravado they arrived with fading fast.

"You wouldn't," he blustered, but the uncertainty in his voice betrayed his words.

Noa took another step forward, her chin held high. "Try me," she challenged, her voice unwavering. She wasn't sure if Mrs. Peabody would actually come running, but the threat hung heavy in the air.

The silence stretched, broken only by the rasping breaths of Jimmy, who leaned heavily against the lamppost. Derby glared at Noa, then back at Jimmy, his frustration simmering. He clearly hadn't anticipated this kind of resistance.

Finally, with a defeated grunt, he tossed a parting shot Jimmy's way. "This ain't over, Hopkins." He turned and stalked off, his goons trailing behind him like dejected puppies.

Silence descended once more, broken only by Jimmy's ragged breaths. He leaned heavily against the lamppost, the adrenaline slowly draining away, leaving behind a dull ache in his jaw and a blooming gratitude for Noa's intervention.

He looked at her, truly looked at her for the first time. The anger had faded from her eyes, replaced by a concern that sent a new wave of warmth through him.

"You okay?" she asked, her voice softer now, laced with a hint of worry.

Jimmy managed a weak smile. "Yeah, thanks to you." He hesitated, then continued, the words tumbling out before he could stop them. "You didn't have to do that, you know. Stand up to Derby like that."

Noa shrugged, a hint of defiance flickering back into her eyes. "Someone had to," she said simply.

Jimmy stared at her. No one had really come to his rescue before. It was always his own battles. Always by himself. The realisation sat heavy in his gut, overshadowed only by the warmth blossoming in his chest. Here, under the pale glow of the streetlamp, Noa stood, a testament to something new, something unexpected.

He looked down at her hand, extended towards him. It was small, but the grip she held him with felt surprisingly strong. "Thanks," he finally mumbled, the word thick on his tongue. It wasn't much, but it felt like the least he could offer. He reached out, his hand hovering over hers for a moment before taking it. The touch sent a jolt through him, a feeling foreign yet exciting.

“You gonna be okay if I leave you at the dorms? Not gonna kick the sh*t outta anyone before you get to bed?” Noa smiled, squeezing his hand as they walked back towards the quadrangle.

Jimmy winced, the playful jab sending a fresh throb through his jaw. He caught her teasing smile and a grin tugged at the corner of his own lips. "Maybe not anyone," he countered, his voice still a bit rough. "But I can't guarantee anything for those pigeons outside my window."

They reached her dorm, a quaint redbrick building bathed in a soft yellow glow. Noa turned to face him, her hand lingering in his.

The air crackled with unspoken emotions, a stark contrast to their usual banter. Jimmy felt a familiar urge to deflect, to hide behind his tough-guy persona. But something about Noa's gaze, the vulnerability beneath the surface, held him back.

"Well," he finally said, clearing his throat awkwardly. "I guess I should get some ice on that jaw before it turns purple."

Noa chuckled, the sound light and musical. "Probably a good idea, Hopkins." Jimmy felt a blush creep up his cheeks, a sensation entirely new and confusing.

"See you tomorrow, Noa?" he asked, surprised by the nervousness in his own voice.

"Wouldn't miss it," she replied, her smile wide and genuine. Then, before he could overthink it, she leaned forward and brushed a soft kiss against his cheek.

The world seemed to tilt on its axis. Jimmy stood there, frozen, the echo of her touch tingling on his skin. Noa winked, then, with a final playful wave, disappeared into her dorm.

Left alone under the yellow lamplight, Jimmy finally allowed himself to breathe. His jaw throbbed, a dull reminder of the fight, but a new kind of warmth bloomed in his chest. Maybe Bullworth wasn't so bad after all. Maybe, just maybe, there was something worth fighting for here, something real, something hopeful.

Was it the dangerous things you do? (Jezebel) - Chapter 6 - poppystardew (2024)

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