Frost was a little sad when he reached the park, knowing he was on the homeward leg of his run. He had no reason to expect anything out of the ordinary. When he heard something in the bushes off the path, Frost paused. It was too big to be a squirrel.
“Oh n- no no No N-“ A panicky female voice stuttered then cut out abruptly.
Frost started toward the sound, wondering if he just missed saving some girl. He stepped around the bushes. A form, definitely human lay in the shadows behind the bush, invisible from the street. The voice spoke again, quavering and entirely different from a moment before.
“P-please, help me.”
Frost rounded the bush and knelt. It was hard to see detail from the dim streetlight, but it was a girl. She looked his age maybe, wearing a loose sweater, her ankles and feet bare. Beyond that he couldn’t tell.
“Are you hurt? What do you need?” As he spoke, he realized he recognized the sweater. It was a favorite of that junior on the cheer squad. This must be her he was looking at then. What was her name? Amy or something. No, Amber. Why did that name strike him as familiar?
Eyes turned up to meet his, tears rolling from the corners. They must have caught the bit of streetlight and amplified it, because Amber’s eyes seemed to glow on their own in the color that was her name. So lost he became in those eyes that by the time he registered the sensation of fingertips dragging down his chest her hand had already reached his waist.
That jerked his attention from her eyes and he tried to pull away.
“Hey! Whoa now. Let’s not-“
Amber’s hand curled in a fist, bunching his shirt and pulling. Their eyes met again and Frost couldn’t turn away from the pain, and desire he saw.
Gaze locked on his, the girl’s other hand cupped his cheek. A feral expression took over her features, opposed to the tears still flowing.
“Help me Frederick. Please.”
That did it. He didn’t think to question that she knew his name. Even as the back of his brain screamed for him to run away, Frost could not leave the girl. He had to try to help, whatever that meant. Memory tickled his brain, something long ago and hazy warm with satisfaction as Amber pulled Frost down behind the bushes.
Sunlight hit his eyelids, drawing Frost from sleep. He blinked slowly a couple times, rolling his shoulders. The motion induced a murmur and a shifting in his arms as the girl there pressed tighter to his chest. That brought him full awake. A moment of frantic assessment what his senses were telling him confirmed surprising reality.
He was lying naked on the grass in the park, with a nearly or also naked girl, he didn’t look down, sleeping on top of him. Pain as he bit inside his lip confirmed it was no dream. Casting his mind back to try to piece together how he got there brought only vague recollections. He remembered going for his evening run. Hearing the girl ask for help in the park. After that devolved into dis-jointed flashes, any one of which felt dirty. It was several long breathes, staring at the grass by his face to steady himself.
Trying hard not to think about that or the present situation more, Frost went about extricating himself from the girl. Not looking didn’t help but he managed to disentangle their legs and was working the arm under her free when the girl squirmed in closer, one arm around him pressing on his shoulder.
“Five more minutes,” Amber murmured sleepily, her breath teasing his chest hair.
Frost pulled a little more and her arm closed tighter.
Something in the way she said it gave Frost pause. If this really was Amber from school… Steeling himself he tilted his chin, eyes narrowed to slits. Long green hair trailed from her head, matching the healthy grass it lay on. That answered that question. Amber for sure. Frost recalled hearing about the regular grief she got over that hair. Frost consciously turned his face up again before looking anywhere else. Remembered glimpses, and direct contact with all of her below the hair were too much as it was.
Frost thought furiously. Focusing anywhere but on how well they fit together, and how good it felt to be there. What he couldn’t grasp was how this happened. Amber was no victim. And the girl had a reputation as ice not fire. Not a predator. She had not assaulted or threatened him, that he could tell. Then how…? Frost struggled against his fuzzy memory. She hadd asked for help, asked him to help. And then… Her eyes. Frost swung his free arm back to hit the ground in frustration. It made Amber jump and hold even tighter, fingers digging into the back of his shoulder.
“Please,” she murmured.
There it was. He remembered her saying that last night. Then she’d tugged on him and he just… went. Frost squeezed his eyes shut against renewed flashes of what had followed. He was still wondering what to do when Amber’s eyes flew open and he heard her gasp.
The girl’s arm reeled back and she was suddenly on her feet. Sheer luck that Frost caught her wrist before she took off in broad daylight.
“Woah, woah,” Frost coughed, eyes shut as he faced her, “Amber, right? Don’t make it worse.” With gentle pressure he was trying to pull her back down behind the partial cover of the bushes. “Lots of joggers through here.” Moms and kids too on a summer morning.
He felt the girl’s eyes on him as he spoke. And then with a sob she was on her knees, hugging herself with her forehead pressed into his shoulder. Don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t…
“Oh Fr- R-“ she struggled between sobs. “Why was it you?”
Frost was confused already. The plea left him flabbergasted. But they were still in the park, daylight growing swiftly. Carefully he disengaged, Amber’s head just dropping onto the grass as she continued to cry.
At least their clothes weren’t hard to locate. Pants on, Frost found Amber’s sweater and turned back, suppressing the twin urges to stare and look away. He lifted her head to put it through the collar. Hair hanging limp over her face the chin tilted up to look at him while he tried to get the sweater down over her shoulders without touching the girl. Slowly she started to help, working arms into sleeves when she froze with another gasp. A hand extended to his chest, before she jerked it back like she’d been stung.
Frost had never seen anyone move so fast. Amber was on her feet, the girl’s gaze now fixed on his toes. Twice she reached like she meant to touch or hold him.
“I,” tears choked her voice. “I am so sorry Frost. Please, I never meant-“
“What do you-“
“I am so sorry.” She was gone.
Frost blinked. Then blinked again. He wasn’t the fastest on the track team, but he was no slouch. Amber gave The Flash a run for his money as she sprinted across the park. Frost stood rooted to the spot, dumb-founded. She was long out of sight and the sun continued to crawl up the sky.
“Hey, Frost!” The call from behind brought his head around, “isn’t this the wrong end of the day for you?”
Frost smiled weakly at his neighbor and fellow runner appearing on the path. “Gotta change my routine every now and then,” Boy had he. More like napalmed. “Can’t get complacent you know.”
The man smiled with a nod as he passed. And Frost remembered he still didn’t have his shirt on. Correcting that first Frost hesitated briefly before gathering everything left on the ground. No shoes but his own, huh. It was awkward, but not as bad as some kid stumbling over anything later.
Throwing a last look in the direction Amber had disappeared, Frost headed home.