Please read the author's note at the end of the story. The first chapter will remain for timestamp purposes.

Hit Me Baby One More Time (Literally)

"Come on, Stick Girl! You're up!"

Taliana Avilla threw a look of annoyance to the makeshift umpire behind home plate as she strode towards the batters box. Stick Girl? Did no one have any originality anymore? They'd been calling her that same stupid nickname ever since third grade, which had been over three years ago. Apparently sixth graders still had the same terrible ability as elementary schoolers to come up with names.

"Don't call me that," she mumbled, not loud enough for anyone else to hear her.

In actuality, Talia could understand why they called her Stick Girl; it was really the only way to describe her appearance. Her entire eleven year old body was extremely lanky, causing her to look like she actually was a twig. Awkwardness just seemed to go along with that as well, granting her with the inability to be graceful like the other little girls at her swanky private school of Georgetown Day. She just hoped she wouldn't always look like that.

"Hurry up! Can't those skinny giraffe legs of yours carry you any faster?"

This time a frown came to her thin, pale lips. She was getting sick of all these stupid names everyone kept calling her. And okay, maybe it wasn't everyone, just one particular boy...

"Shut up, Sebastian," she said, slightly louder this time.

The umpire, or better known as Sebastian Phillips, rolled his eyes, staying true to his melodramatic demeanor. "Just hurry up. You're dragging out our game. I don't see why we even let you play."

Talia pressed her lips together tightly and approached the plate a moment later, picking up the bat that was laying by her feet. She swung it around for a moment to get a feel for it, then raised her elbows and pulled her hands back until she could practically brush her ear with her knuckles. This was the only time she felt semi-comfortable. The weight of a bat in her hands made her feel almost invincible, even if she wasn't at any other time. Softball was hersport and she was here to own it, just like she had been ever since she started playing the sport in first grade.

The only problem now was that she wasn't surrounded by her normal female teammates. Instead there were the faces of boys who had been playing baseball for just as long as she had been playing softball. Whenever the boys were playing, the other girls that were on her team stayed away; the games during recess were just a little too brutal for them. Most people walked away with more cuts and bruises than they would in a normal, non-recess, game.

But Talia was different, of course. She wasn't afraid of a little blood and blue, sore patches like all the other prissy little girls were. There was no denying she was a tomboy through and through.

Taliana watched as the pitcher smirked at her, silently taunting her like he always did. She tried not to let it get to her, but it always did for some reason; he was just freaking intimidating for an eleven year old. Within an instant the ball was flying towards her, looking like it was going to hit her. Instinctively, she jumped back, the large neon yellow/green ball narrowly missing her ribs.

"Strike one!"

A look of pure confusion came to her face as she whipped her head around to look at the umpire standing behind the catcher. Just like the pitcher, Sebastian had a matching smirk on his lips.

"What?" she asked incredulously, letting her bat drop to her side. "That wasn't a strike! It almost hit me!"

"But it didn't," he stated, making it seem like the most obvious thing in the world. "And it's not like Michael did it on purpose." He moved his gaze from the outraged girl in front of him to the grinning pitcher out on the mound. "Right Michael?"

"Right," he replied innocently, the shit-eating grin on his lips growing by the second. "I'd never try to hurt little Stick Girl."

"But if it almost hit me that means it wasn't even in the strike zone!" she cried out.

Sebastian only shrugged as he turned his snide gaze back on her. "I'm the umpire here, and what I say goes. Deal with it."

Talia scoffed and shook her head, a look of disgust on her face as she diverted her gaze back to the ground. "Whatever. Lets just get on with the game."

The catcher gave her a sympathetic glance as he tossed the ball back to Michael and then returned to squatting behind home plate. With a soft sigh, Talia brought her bat up again and stared narrow eyed at the pitcher, daring him to do the same thing again. Michael cocked an eyebrow slightly before he released the ball, letting it travel in its almost perfect path.

Keyword: almost.

Talia couldn't help but watch with satisfaction as the pitch went wide and missed the plate by a few inches.

"Strike two!"

Shock and anger were the first two emotions to hit her as she spun around to face the makeshift umpire. "What?" she questioned, once again. "Are you kidding me? It wasn't in the strike zone!"

Sebastian just stared at her, his expression bored yet still smug. "What I say goes, Stick Girl." He looked down at the boy still crouching with the softball in his hand. "Give the ball back to the pitcher, Marcus. This game is taking too long."

The catcher let out a soft sigh and threw the ball back to Michael, who was once again grinning. Talia was overwhelmed with the feeling of wanting to slap both Michael and Sebastian, but she somehow refrained from doing it. It wasn't like she had ever slapped anyone before. She wasn't even sure if she knew how.

Talia turned her attention back to Michael, glaring this time, and waiting for the next horrible pitch to come. Her grip on the bat was tighter than it should have been, due to the annoyance pulsing through her body, and her stance was off as well for the same reason. She would have been surprised if she could even swing the stupid bat. But when the time came to swing, there wasn't any need. The pitch had come in way over her head.

A haughty grin came to her lips as she dropped the bat to her side and turned to face Sebastian who wasn't looking too pleased about it.

"Don't you even darethink about calling that a strike."

The boy's dark blue eyes narrowed and a hint of a sneer came to his lips. Taliana immediately knew she had said the wrong thing.

"Strike three," he drawled, his sneer turning into a self-satisfied smirk. "You're out."

In an instant her jaw had dropped and she found herself gaping at him in shock. "No freaking way! That wasn't even close to being a strike! It was above my head you idiot!"

A look of clear vexation came to Sebastian's face as he stepped closer towards Taliana, ready to debate what she had just said. "No it wasn't. Anybody can vouch for me on that one."

Talia's frown only deepened as she placed her hands on her dainty hips. "I'd like to see that happen!"

Sebastian narrowed his eyes at her. "Fine," he hissed. He then lifted his gaze to the first baseman, who just happened to be staring off into space with his mouth wide open. No one would have been surprised if a fly or two had flown in there. "Jacob!"

The boy who had been staring off into space snapped to attention, his big brown eyes wide with surprise. "Yeah?"

"You saw that pitch, right?"

Jacob nodded, his head going up and down like a bobble head doll. "I did."
"What do you think it was then? Ball or a strike?"

The boy paused, his mouth opening once again as he thought, which looked like it was a difficult task for him. "Uh... a strike?"

A grin immediately sprang to Sebastian's lips as he looked back to Talia, her ice blue eyes looking like they were about to pop out of her head in shock.

"Told you," he gloated, looking down his nose at the girl in the batters box. "I'm sure everyoneelse out there would agree with that." He once again turned his attention to the field, raising his voice some so they could all hear. "Right guys?"

A collective murmur of 'yes' could be heard from all sides. It didn't come as that much of a surprise to Talia this time; not very many people dared go against Sebastian Phillips. It just wasn't heard of.

With an angry huff, Taliana threw her hands up. "You're so stupid!"

A bark of laughter came from Sebastian and he took a step closer to the stick thin girl in front of him. "Say whatever you want, Talia. It's not going to change the fact that you suck at softball."

"I do not!" she cried out, a deep frown spreading over her face now. All she knew for now was that if he kept this up, she was either going to burst out in tears or go up in flames. She was leaning more towards the tears. "Stop being mean to me!"

The grin on Seb's lips only grew with every word that came out of the girl's mouth. He couldn't resist not teasing her.

"Go home and cry to your mommy about it," he taunted, moving around Marcus so that he and Talia were only a foot away from each other now. "Oh, that's right. Your mom doesn't even live around here anymore. Guess she didn't like you enough to stay. Poor, poor little Stick Girl. Not even your mommy loves you!"

In an instant Talia was seeing red. Only very few people knew that her mother had recently moved away from D.C. to California, the reasons for that unknown, but apparently Sebastian was one of them who knew. How he had even found out about it, Talia didn't know. But leave it up to Sebastian to find out the latest gossip in the neighborhood.

It was a very touchy subject, seeing as Talia and her mother had been quite close up until the day she moved away, leaving her two children to live with their father, step-mother, and two half sisters. To put it in simple terms, Talia wasn't too happy with it.

Rage bubbled in the stomach of the tiny girl and her face began to get hot as well, leading up to the outburst of, "Don't talk about my mom like that!" And then her hands were on his shoulders, shoving him backwards.

The sounds of stunned gasps came from the near by bleachers where the other girls had come to watch the game, their eyes wide with astonishment. No one dared talk back to Sebastian Phillips, let alone touch him, so their surprise didn't come as much of a shock to Taliana. But she wasn't paying attention to them. Her fury filled eyes were locked on Sebastian and Sebastian only.

The snarl on his face probably would have scared pit bull, but the girl in front of him didn't back down. A mighty bad decision on her part.

Sebastian's hands shot out faster than Taliana would have ever thought possible, connecting with her boney shoulders and pushing her backwards with such a force that she stumbled in almost fell. Somehow she managed to keep on her feet and shoved him back once again, keeping the argument going.

"Go find someone else to be mean to, Phillips. I'm so sick of you... you stinking pile of dog crap!"

The gasps from the on looking students were louder this time. For a bunch of sixth graders, that insult was one of the worst any of them had ever heard so far in their short lives. Not to mention just about everyone knew how Sebastian was going to react to it. Even at eleven years old, Sebastian had already been diagnosed with an anger management problem and most of the kids in their grade tried hard not to annoy him in any way. The consequences from doing so were never that fun.

"What did you call me?" he asked quietly, looking more than just a little pissed off.

"You heard me," Taliana answered boldly, drawing herself up to her full height. "I called you a stinking pile of dog crap." A wave of confidence rushed through her, causing a slight smirk to come to her lips as she stared unflinchingly at the boy. "What are you gonna do about it?"

The moment the words passed from her lips, she instantly regretted it. Less than half a second later, fireworks exploded in her head when Sebastian's fist connected with her cheekbone, sending her crashing to the ground.

A stunned silence immediately fell around the pair, the only sounds that could be heard were those of the shouts of the recess monitors and teachers who were running across the field to break up the fight.

If Taliana had been like the other girls she went to school with, she would have continued to sit on the ground and cry her little heart out. But of course, she wasn't. That's why when she felt the softball bat laying on the ground under her fingertips, she knew exactly what she had to do. Without even rising to her feet, she closed her eyes, lifted the bat and swung with all her might.

The sound of bone crunching and a loud scream alerted her that she had come into contact with someone, and that it had been the someone she had been aiming for. Cracking open one eye, she saw Sebastian curled up in the fetal position on the ground, cradling his obviously broken arm while tears streamed down his stupid perfect face. As she opened the other eye and took in the entire sight, a smile began tugging on her lips. Never before in her life had she seen the Sebastian Phillips cry, so she took the opportunity to savor it as much as she could.

However, that didn't last long. A few seconds after she had taken her lucky swing the teachers had come rushing over, most of them going over to the big baby who was bawling his eyes out as he continued to lay on the ground. As the moments passed, more and more teachers came to the scene, and one of them was the principal. He grabbed Talia by the arm and pulled her to her feet, looking quite angered by what she had done.

"Explain yourself, Miss Avilla!" he thundered, his grip tight on her tiny wrist.

Her big blue eyes widened as she looked up at the fat, aging man, his face turning red and beginning to lean towards purple.

"You might want to calm down, Mr. Hawthorne," she said softly, her voice once again sounding like it belonged to a sweet little girl. "You're starting to turn purple."

If it was even possible, the fat man began to turn even more purple. It was even starting to scare Taliana.

"That's it! You're coming with me and I'm calling your parents. This is your last day at my school!"

He then began dragging her off the field and back towards the main school building. As she stumbled along, trying to keep up with his long strides, she glanced back over her shoulder to catch one last look at the damage she had caused.

The sight brought a full out grin to her lips this time, and this memory would probably do so for years to come. By now Sebastian had managed to sit up, but was still cradling his broken arm and sobbing. Hawthorne was now dragging her though the door into the school, but before the door closed behind her she once again murmured something that no one else but herself could hear.

"Who sucks at softball now?"