I only met him because I'm an animal lover.
It was fall, October to be exact, and the leaves fell from the oak above me like feathers from a golden bird. I sat with my back to the bark, the earthy sent of the dirt filling my nostrils as the words of musicians filled my ears. I was succeeding in ignoring the growing stack of homework back in my dorm room, and instead relished in the harmony that was my campus in the late afternoon.
Well, almost harmony. There were multiple people passing by the green on the sidewalks, their backpacks and purses creating dents in their shoulders as they trudged to class. A few boys were beating each other with foam swords under another oak in front of the library, and I watched, trying not to laugh, as a buff fraternity member got beamed in the head with a Frisbee. My giggling must have attracted the dogs attention, because that was when a large, wet nose obscured my vision and a huge pink tongue knocked my glasses askew. I plucked out my earbuds and removed my glasses quickly, grinning and scratching the canine's ruff affectionately.
He was a handsome pit bull mix, with the large jaws that came with his breed, and a brindle pattern I couldn't help but adore. His leash led around the tree I was sitting at, and I leaned over to catch a glimpse of his owner. I didn't need to, because it was then the dog's human followed him to my spot, apologizing for his dog's rudeness. I laughed and shook my head to show him it was alright, but he apologized again. As I took a closer look at him, curious, my hands brushed a harsh cloth on his companion. It read "service dog" and it dawned on me that the young man in front of me must be blind.
"It's no problem, really! I love dogs, especially pits like this sweetie." I said, scratching the ecstatic mutt's chest. The man before me smiled, relieved. He crouched down beside me as I loved on his dog, staring at him outright since I knew I couldn't be caught. He had dark brown hair that went down to his shoulder blades, skin that was neither tan nor pale, and a fang hanging from a small chain from his left earlobe. I couldn't see his eyes for dark sunglasses that rested on his nose. He was lean and lanky, obviously very tall - I was guessing 6'3", but then again everything looked bigger when I was sitting on the ground. Something about him made me at ease - maybe it was the fact that he was obviously an animal person like me, or maybe it was the feeling that he wouldn't judge me like everyone else did. Either way, I was content.
"I'm glad someone around here doesn't freak out when they see a dog with a thick head. Most people are too scared of him, but he loves everybody." The dark man before me said, scratching the dog behind his ears. The brindles' tail was going a mile a minute. After talking for a few minutes, he sat down next to me with his back to the tree, the dog curled up between us, and smiles on both of our faces. He told me that he didn't know anybody because his dog and disability scared them off. I confessed that no one had befriended me either, my black clothing and dog collar weirding them out before I even got to show them who I really was. We told each other about ourselves, myself feeling more comfortable than I had been the entire time I had been at my new college. I sighed when the sun started going down, frowning to myself. I had work calling, and I was sure he needed to go soon as well.
After agreeing to meet up the following day at the same tree at the same time, we went our separate ways.
It had been two weeks of us meeting daily at what we now considered "our tree" when I decided to go for a walk at night. The campus was alive until 3 in the morning, so a little exercise around the green wouldn't hurt.
I was wrong.
Several guys had trapped me against one of the trees before I knew it, jeering and mocking me while making crude sexual remarks. I spit back words as venomous as a rattlesnake's, but they were undaunted. When I was finally starting to actually get scared I heard a familiar bark and the sound of combat boots on grass. The jeering was turned to him, and he took it as if he was deaf instead of blind.
"You ok?" He asked gently, and I nodded before realizing he couldn't see me. I tried to get my voice under control.
"Yeah." I said softly.
"Oh look at that, the sightless freak is in love with the goth whore! How romantic!" The leader of the group said, and suddenly he was on the ground and missing three teeth. His pack converged on my friend, and I jumped forward to help but he had put them all down with their alpha in a matter of seconds. He grabbed my hand and walked briskly away, nearly dragging me. It took a raindrop to the eye for me to realize it had started raining.
I tugged on his hand, asking him where we were going. When he didn't reply after several times, I jumped in front of him and put my hands firmly on his shoulders, making him stop if he didn't want to run me over. He tilted his head down to face me, and I saw his brow wrinkled in what was either fury or confusion. I had no idea what made me do it, but the urge to take off his black sunglasses (which he was still wearing, even though it was nearing 1 a.m.) was strong, and I was one to listen to my instincts.
His pupil-less green eyes stared unseeingly into mine, and I smiled at him. The lines on his forehead smoothed out and he wrapped his arms around me. I let my arms rest around his neck, and pressed my forehead to his shoulder.
Between the rain and contact, I knew that he could see me.