Something Worth Fighting For
Author: Andene

Chapter 31
The X Factor

It was the last day of April. Natalia found herself in the library working on a computer engineering assignment with Taylor. They were bent over a three pane project board, cutting their pictures and text and pasting it on the board.

Lunch had barely begun. All Natalia and Taylor had to do was paste everything on to the board. Natalia had spent most of her last class cutting all the text and putting it on a coloured background. Taylor was beside her cutting pictures. It wouldn't take them long to finish.

It was oddly quiet around them. Natalia looked up, wondering why. Two seats around the table were empty. Dawn and Clara were no where to be seen. Steven and Andre were busy playing on their PSP's.

“I wonder what their up to...” Natalia thought out loud. “Who?” Taylor asked. “Dawn and Clara.” She answered, turning back to the work at hand.

Less than fifteen minutes had passed. Natalia and Taylor were almost done the board when they saw Clara and Dawn run into the library.

“Guess who is in the building!” Dawn said excitedly. “Do I want to know?” Natalia asked sarcastically, she was bent over the board aligning the text and pictures she had glued on.

“We just saw Dallas!” Clara told the group. Natalia looked up in confusion. “What?” She asked.

“Dallas is here!” Dawn told her. Natalia didn't belive her. Why would he be here? She asked herself, turning her attention to the task at hand.

She didn't have long to wait for an answer. “He's coming here!” Dawn babbled excitedly.

“Why you guys are more excited about him than I am will always be a mystery to me...” Natalia mumbled. She looked up to see Dallas walking in to the library.

He greeted the librarian, who looked thrilled to see him, before walking towards her table near the back of the library.

Natalia could feel her heart start to race. She composed herself. Dallas was standing at their table.

“What are you doing here?” Natalia asked, putting glue on the last picture. She glanced at him.

Dallas was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He looked like he had just come from home.

“What, no hi or how are you?” Dallas asked, sounding hurt. Natalia looked up at him, eyes narrowed. She could see his grin, he was only playing with her.

“Nope...so what are you doing here?”

Natalia waited for his answer. Dawn and Clara were giggling.

“I came to see you.” Dallas told her with a smile.

Natalia could feel the heat creep in to her cheeks. She bent down to press the picture on to the board, attempting to hide her reddening face.

It was too much for both Dawn and Clara. “Aww!” The both exclaimed with glee.

Natalia wanted to snap at them, she bit her tougue.

“Seriously, why are you here?” Natalia asked again, this time not looking at Dallas.

She heard Dallas sigh.

“Well, if you must know...your student president invited me to help out for Spirit Week. Kevin wants me to help judge your school's X Factor competition. He called up some other graduates too.” Dallas told her.

Natalia felt her face had faded enough of the colour, she looked at him in surprise.

“It's spirit week?” She asked. “Yea.” Dallas told her.

Natalia hadn't been paying attention to the events going on around the school.

“Why don't you come watch? It'll be entertaining.” Dallas said to her.

“I can't...Taylor and I are working on our project that...” Natalia had started to excuse herself when Taylor chimed in. “Nah, we're finished. Let's go watch!” Taylor told her.

Natalia scowled. Dallas had a grin planted on his face, Natalia couldn't help but glare at Taylor. He seemed to find it funny, so Taylor was laughing at her.

“So it's settled. You're coming.” Dallas said, taking her by the hand and leading her out of the library towards the cafetorium. Dawn and Clara followed them, giggling.

Natalia tried to loosen his grip so she could escape back to the library. It just that Dallas had a tight grasp, one that she couldn't wiggle out of. She struggled the entire way to the cafetorium.

Dallas pulled her along to a table before letting go. Natalia glared at him. He pulled out a chair for her. “Sit. You'll enjoy your lunch time for once.” He told her, kissing her slowly, before heading for the table at the front near the stage. Natalia blushed furiously.

Natalia sat down, she could still feel the heat in her cheeks. Dawn and Clara were cackling. “You two need to get a hold of yourselves.” She told them with disdain, as the colour from her face began to fade.

“What? You two make such a cute couple.” Clara told her. “Shut up...” Natalia muttered, sounding a little flustered.

“I have to agree with them.” Taylor said as he sat down next to her. Andre and Steven had come with him. “Stop encouraging them...” Natalia told him with a scowl.


-----


Dallas sat at the front of the hall. He was sitting with two other guys and a girl, all of who had graduated at the same time as him.

He turned to see Natalia glaring at Taylor. Dallas stifled his laughter.

She could get riled up over the smallest things. Of course she was going to be murderous if she knew what he had planned for her.

-----

“Thank you everyone, for coming to the X Factor.” Natalia heard Kevin say.

“Let me introduce our judges. First off is Dallas Owen, one of our school's former top atheletes. He just signed with Toronto FC a few months ago.” Kevin said to the students who cheered Dallas.

Natalia watched Dallas turn and wave to the rest of the students. They really adored him.

“Next is Ian Adams, brother of our very own Raine Adams. He graduated with principle's honor roll and was valedictorian.” Kevin, the student president, said to the students.

Ian also waved to the cheers.

“Moving on, we have Don Fernandes. He was formerly part of the school band. They won the Ontario wide band competition with Don, the year he graduated.”

Don turned to smile at the students.

“Last we have Jenna Brooks. She was part of the robotics club and won the virtual robotics competition two years in a row at the Skills Canada competitions.” Kevin introduced the only girl on the panel of judges.

Jenna also smiled at the students.

“Okay, so now I will call out the contestants and once your name is called, please come to the side of the stage.” Kevin instructed.

“David Walsh, George Neil, Andrew Croydon, Aria Humes, and Natalia Williams.” Kevin announced.


-----

Dallas turned to look at Natalia. He saw the shocked look on her face. He wished he had a camera. This was going to be interesting.


-----


Natalia looked up in shock. “What?” She asked in confusion.

“Go up, your name was called.” Dawn told her.

“I never signed up!” Natalia protested.

“Come on, go. Their waiting for you.” Steven told her. Taylor pushed her out her chair. “Move!” He said to her.

Natalia felt all eyes on her. She squirmed while walking up to the stage.

“Kevin!” She called.

“Yea?” Kevin said turning to face her.

“I never signed up! I'm not doing this.” She told him.

“Your name is on the list. Please don't bail. We only have four other people.” Kevin tried to convince her to stay.

“No way! I never signed up for this.” She told him, crossing her arms. She looked around the cafetorium...everyone was watching her.

How did I get stuck in this? She wondered. A thought occured to her.

“Show me the sign up sheet.” She said to Kevin.

“Here. See that's your name and the two songs you are going to sing.” Kevin told her, showing her the list.

“Dawn, Clara...and Dallas!” Natalia hissed through gritted teeth. She recognized the girls writings...and the song choices had to be Dallas.

“You have four other people! You don't need me!” She told Kevin.

“Oh please Natalia! I have the school newspaper and year book here...they need this! Five people competing sounds a hell of a lot better than four. Please stay!” Kevin pleaded with her.

Natalia wished she could say no. She had never been able to turn any one down. Kevin was giving her a puppy dog look. He seemed desperate.

That's the reason I end up in so much crap...She thought viciously.

“Alright...fine...not like you're giving me a choice...” She told Kevin furiously.

“Thank you!” Kevin said, sounding genuinely relived.

“Thank Dawn, Clara, and Dallas!” Natalia muttered.

-----

Dallas watched Natalia argue with Kevin. She wasn't going to let this go anytime soon.

He hoped Kevin wouldn't show her the sign up sheet.

Dallas's hopes were dashed when Kevin did exactly that. Dallas watched the look of comprehension grown on Natalia's face.

I'm going to pay dearly for this, Dallas thought, yet he was still grinning.

Natalia said something to Kevin. When Kevin spoke, Dallas watched Natalia contemplate over something.

Kevin looked happy when she replied.

Dallas settled in to his seat to watch the competition.


-----

Natalia waited beside the stage for her turn. She wanted to kill her friends...and Dallas. This was all of their faults.

Natalia heard her name being called. “Next is Natalia Williams. She will be singing 'The Loving Kind' By Girls Aloud.”

She grudgingly walked up on to the stage.

Natalia caught Dallas's eye. He was smiling smugly at her. He winked.

Natalia could feel her blood boil. I'm going to kill him when I get home...she thought. She couldn't believe he would pull this on her.

The music started. Natalia wanted to run out of the room. Instead she was frozen.

Natalia took a deep breath to steady herself.

“Sometimes I watch you when you're sleeping. I wonder what you're feeling. Both wide awake and dreaming of yesterday.” Natalia sang along to the music.

This is so humiliating...Natalia thought. He had made sure to pick a song where the lyrics were sure to hint about them. The times she had snuck in to his room and slept beside him, only to wake up before him and watch him...floated in Natalia's mind. She could feel her cheeks burning up.

“You may be disinclined. To find the love we've left behind. So kiss me then make up your mind. I'm not the loving kind.”

I can't belive I'm doing this, Natalia thought with irritation.

“I'd do anything. Sing songs that lovers sing. If I could change your mind. Am I not the loving kind?”


-----

Dallas knew Natalia had a good voice. It had surprised him the first time he had heard her sing.

She'll thank me later...He thought, knwoing full well that it would be the last thing Natalia would do.

His foot tapped to the beat of the music. Natalia was easily the best from among the five competitors.

He had picked two songs for Natalia. The one she was currently singing was more about her personality. She wasn't one to show her feelings, it wasn't easy for her to express them. She visibly squirmed when Dallas had dragged her to the cafeteria by the hand. Except, Natalia had a loving side that no one knew about.

Dallas thought about the times she would come to him late in the night, just so she could stay with him. Dallas smiled as he thought about those times.

The second song, was more for himself. It was probably going to get him killed.

The second song Dallas had written down was more to get back at Natalia for calling him corny.

He had warned her.


-----

Natalia was red faced as she waited for her second turn. She was not looking forward to it.

Having seen her second song, she knew it was Dallas who had chosen it.

Natalia had tried to get Kevin to change it, but he wouldn't hear of it. Saying that he already had the track.

I just bet he does...Natalia thought angrily.

“Last will be Natalia Williams. She will be singing 'My Man' by Jade Ewen.” Kevin announced.

Natalia had been dreading this moment.

She shot Dallas another murderous look. She wanted to wipe the grin off his face.

Natalia walked up on to the stage, shaking her head in disbelief. The things Dallas had manged to get her into...

The music started. Natalia wanted to fade in to the back ground.

This is so embaressing...She thought as she sang along to the song. She would have loved to melt in to the wall, or become invisible...

“He pulls me closer. All that I can do. Is make sure that I'm breathing.”

That smug jerk! She thought viciously. Dallas had made sure to find a song that had a girl singing praises of her boyfriend.

“My man irresistable. My man know the way to go. He got he got what I desire. He got he got my head on fire.”

Natalia could feel her cheeks reddening. I'm never going to live this down, She thought.

“All I want and all that I am. All I want is what I got with my man.”


-----

Dallas watched Natalia sing. It was the most entertaining spectacle he had ever seen.

She was blushing as she sang the chorus.

Dallas wished he had a video camera with him. This moment was something he would never forget.

Luckily, Kevin had agreed to give him photos of the event, as a thank you for judging.

Dallas was going to hide those from Natalia.

Dallas leaned back in to his chair and watched as Natalia finished off her song.

She got of the stage, but not before sending him another glare. Dallas bit his cheek trying to keep himself from laughing.

Kevin then announced for the judges to pick a winner. Dallas already knew his choice. He didn't care if everyone called him biased, but the other singers weren't as good as the one he knew he would choose.

-----

Natalia watched as Jenna gave Kevin a sheet of paper which held the results.

Natalia didn't want to know the outcome.

“Alright! We have the results! So let's get on with this!” Kevin spoke into the microphone.

“Third place goes to David Walsh. Second place goes to Aria Humes.”

Natalia watched as the two went up to get their prize. It was a sweatshirt with the school colours and logo.

“And first place goes to...the judges have decided on...” Kevin was trying to build up suspense.

Trying too hard...Natalia thought, darkly.

“The winner for this years Spirit Week X Factor challenge is...Natalia Williams.” Kevin announced.

Natalia had started to head back to her friends. It's not me...she thought relieved.

“Natalia, come on!” Natalia turned to see Kevin speaking to her. “What? Me?” She asked. “Yea!” Kevin said into the microphone.

“You've got to be kidding me...” Natalia muttered as she walked back to the stage.

-----

Dallas watched Natalia head back to the stage. He laughed. She had thought she hadn't won. Dallas watched as she got a sweatshirt and a nalgene water bottle.

Dallas waited for her to walk off the stage before getting up to leave.

He walked past her friends. Clara and Dawn were sitting, looking thrilled.

“Good job, you two.” Dallas said as he passed them by.

“Thanks, Dallas. We couldn't have done it without you.” Clara said with a laugh.

-----

“How is it that you all are in on this?” Natalia raged, as she got to the table where her friends were sitting.

“Actually...me and Clara thought it would be funny...but then Dallas caught us signing you up...” Dawn told her with a grin.

“But it was Dallas who picked the songs!” Clara added quickly.

“Errh...Dallas!” Natalia said through gritted teeth. Natalia looked around for him.

She saw him walking out of the building. Natalia glanced at the clock. She had twenty minutes. She handed her prize to Taylor. “Ill be right back...” She muttered.

Natalia walked out of the cafetorium quickly. She quickened her pace until she was out of the building. Once out she ran after Dallas.

She had almost caught up to him.

“You could have just asked me to compliment you, if your ego needed it that much! You didn't have to make me sing that in front of so many people!” She shouted out after him.

Natalia brushed the hair away from her face. Dallas had stopped, turning to face her. He faced her with a smile. She walked up to him.

“I told you. You have a good voice.” Dallas told her. He ran a hand through his hair.

“And you have an enormous ego! You jerk!” Natalia fumed.

“You had fun!” Dallas retorted. “No, I didn't! You had fun, since you were the one who signed me up and were enjoying it!” Natalia sniped.

“Alright, I did have fun. It was pay back for you calling me corny and not singing. But you can't say you didn't enjoy that!” Dallas admitted.

“Yes, I can!” Natalia retorted. “Liar!” Dallas teased her. “Jerk!” Natalia muttered.

“At least you won.” Dallas said quietly. “Small comfort.” Natalia retorted.

“I don't know why I put up with you! You scheme with my friends! Against me!” Natalia told him, crossing her arms. “You owe me!” She demanded, with a smirk.

“What? Now I have to bribe you to stay with me?” Dallas asked, pretending to be offended.

Natalia raised a brow. Dallas gave in. “Okay, what is it?” Dallas asked, giving in, sighing loudly.

Natalia contemplated a worthy punishment. She couldn't think of anything on the spot.

“Firstly...you're going to bring a large frozen hot chocolate when you come to pick me up after school...and secondly I'm not telling you the next part...but whatever it is...you'll have to say yes.” Natalia decided to torment him by not telling him everything.

-----

“Alright...fine...” Dallas said with a sigh. She was going to get him back properly at this rate.

Maybe she would forget once she got the frozen hot chocolate. Not likely...Dallas thought.

He glanced at his watch. “You have fifteen minutes before class.” He told her with a grin.

“Yea, so? What makes you think I'm going to spend them with you? After what you pulled...I think I'm heading back.” Natalia told him, snidely.

Natalia turned her back on him and had started to walk back to the school.

Dallas walked quickly behind her. He wrapped his arms around her.

“This makes me think that you're staying.” He said, having made her stand still.

“I'm still mad at you.” Natalia told him. “That's okay, I still love you.” Dallas said with a grin, nuzzeling her neck. Natalia smacked his arm.

He turned her to face him. His arms still encircling her.

“Jerk...” Natalia muttered. “You still love me!” Dallas teased her. “Lucky you!” Natalia retorted.

“Aww...come on...” Dallas prodded her. “You're going to remember this forever.” He explained.

“Why would I want to remember that?” Natalia scoffed. She looked at him incredulously.

-----

Natalia looked at Dallas. “Becuase I want you to remember high school...all of it...not just the studying...and not regret missing out.” Dallas told her. He sweeped the hair that had fallen over her face. He moved it to the side.

“I'd never regret it.” She told him, adamantly.

“I want to make sure.” He whispered, nudging her forehead with his own.

That caught her heart. Natalia couldn't believe the trouble Dallas went through just for her. He had made sure to wipe any plan for revenge...they had all dissapated with his answer.

“Yea...well you're not forgiven.” She smirked, knowing very well that he had been forgiven.

Dallas laughed upon hearing this. He kissed her gently. “I'll make it up to you. I promise.” Dallas told her, kissing her again.

They spent a few more minutes together, before Natalia kissed Dallas goodbye and headed back to the school for class. Once she was inside, Natalia couldn't help but look back. She watched Dallas drive away, with a heavy heart, before heading for class. At least he would be there afterschool.

The thought of seeing Dallas again, made Natalia smile as she walked to class.

 

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