Author: AssortedScribbler PM
Eddie’s thoughts on Episode 1. Rachel’s thoughts on Episode 2. TO BE ADDED: Eddie and Rachel’s thoughts on Episode 3.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 7,702 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 05-22-09 - Published: 04-30-09 - id: 5029569
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Waterloo Road or any of it's characters. I just made up the plot.
A/N: Hope you enjoy it, and please don't hesitate to tell me what you think; any suggestions are welcome!
Summary: Rachel's thoughts on Episode 2.
Post Episode 2
Rachel pulled her car sharply into her driveway and got out, shoving her car door closed a little harder than she usually did. Not wanting to think about why she'd done that, she collected her briefcase from the boot and hurried up to her front door, the first niggling voice beginning to enter her mind but she pushed it aside again, concentrating on getting into her home, her place of safety, security. At last she pushed open the now unlocked door and rapidly moved inside, swinging the wooden structure shut behind her with a snap.
Walking past her kitchen, knowing it was unlikely she'd be eating tonight, she almost flung her briefcase down on the sofa without a thought for the laptop inside it, before collapsing wearily in her armchair. The thoughts were back again, chipping away at her determination not to think or react to what had happened today. Sighing, Rachel pressed the tips of her fingers against the sides of her nose in an effort to stave off what felt like a huge headache, then toed off her high-heeled shoes so she could curl up in the chair, arms clutching around herself.
Despite the defensive posture, the protection in her mind failed her and the images broke through. Eddie. Almost all of them were Eddie. Some memories from before the fire, some from after. His expression dropping as she was introduced as the Headmistress of Waterloo Road, the disappointed and angry light in his eyes as she'd outlines all the changes she hoped to bring in. A light she had ignored at the time but now could see in her mind's eye as clear as a photograph. She felt such a wave of guilt and almost envy as she thought about her first day now and the woman she used to be. She'd made so many promises. Eddie had said it himself,
"Such confidence." And that's indeed what she'd had in abundance. She had done as she always did when she got to a new school, made a name for herself instantly and recognised what the school needed at the same time. Admittedly, Mika throwing up all over her was not exactly part of the 'name' she'd wanted to build up but for the most part, that first day and the ones following it were all part of her design. Eddie had been a spanner in the usual plans. He wasn't like any other Deputy she'd dealt with, and maybe she should have expected him to be different because she'd hurt his pride without even realising it, just by being there and she had to admit she'd done very little to ease the gap to begin with.
He was the only person she'd ever felt the need to justify herself to, to defend the actions she was taking. Usually, the Deputy either stropped because there were so many changes and they didn't like it, which Eddie sort of did but not because he didn't want change but rather, he didn't want her there. However, it was the other type Rachel hated, who caused her skin to crawl, the ones that leapt behind her because she was different and used to be on the pretty side and they just wanted to get into her good books, because she obviously had connections. That always made her feel slightly repulsed and someone better suited to the school, and her, soon replaced them. Eddie didn't do that for which she was thankful.
She felt a certain amount of respect for him before she even knew him because Rea had spoken highly of him but she'd understood why when she met him. She knew instantly upon meeting him that he wasn't going to be typical in any way. She had a talent with men, she'd been working on it for years, and within a few minutes, if she'd judged them right she could have them quivering in their shoes, as she'd done to Grantley in their first meeting, or wrapped around her little finger. It came with the territory of her old and new job, politics was a talent she had adopted very easily, but Eddie didn't fall for any of it. Which, in a way, frustrated her because that meant she had to really try and get him to accept her, because if he did not then the rest of the staff's loyalty would be left in question as well, which she obviously could not afford, but on the other hand, she respected him a whole lot more for his stubbornness and resistance to her usual charms.
Her early high opinion of him only grew over the time they worked together. He was a rare gem; an administrator who still understood and worked with kids because he knew he could do both jobs well, even the better for doing the other. She'd admired the honesty he'd shown her in sharing his past with her, the memory of his sons, and the way his face had lit up when he talked about Michael filled her mind's eye. It had spurred her on, that sight, and she was glad she'd listened to her instinct. She'd known somehow it would work out, because Eddie deserved to have his son in his life, he deserved that happiness. She had never doubted he would make a great father and he continued to prove her right every time she heard him talk about his son.
Then he'd found out about her past and suddenly she found she'd come to depend on him without realising; she hadn't wanted him to resign, would have done a lot more than she did to make him stay. She'd never been more grateful for trust from another human being than she was when Eddie sided with her against Hordley. She'd never shared her past with anyone because, like her scar, she'd always anticipated rejection once the truth was known, but she shouldn't have assumed Eddie would be that normal. Hadn't she already determined that he was not the usual kind? Nevertheless his support had been invaluable and she wouldn't forget that.
With a smile, she remembered the awkward way he'd approached her on the last day of term, early in the morning, to ask her out for the evening. She'd never been more pleased but surprised at the same time. She'd felt the self-consciousness in his body language, his voice, but it hadn't made her pause. Her quick questions had endeavoured to find out whether this would be a social or business occasion, to prepare herself so she would know what side of her to present, and his replies, though typically ineloquent, were reassuring. It was his way of testing their boundaries and at the time, she'd not been averse to the implication. She'd even thought about it before, had wondered if their easy working relationship and light banter would eventually evolve into something else and here he was, making the first move, as if he knew she could not. It was sweet and she wished things could have turned out differently that last day.
Then another memory sidled into her mind, from a more recent time. She really didn't want to contemplate her first day back, had managed to avoid thoughts of it until now. Even without an audience to her inner voice, an embarrassed blush stole over her cheeks as she thought of her panic attack in her office. Dear Eddie had done so well dealing with her loss of control, calming her down, bringing her sense back, but it should never have been his problem to shoulder in the first place. It was that moment she realised perhaps Eddie and her doctor had been right, maybe she wasn't completely ready to come back. Then she felt her logical mind snap back at the sentimental side. No, she had made her decision; she would not back down now. Her stubbornness rose like a phoenix to protect her from that weak thought.
In place of it, another memory slipped into her mind's eye. Him stood, blazingly angry in front of her in her office this morning, though she sensed there was an element of masked personal hurt in his expression as well, an element he had not mentioned but she had responded to nonetheless with a faint 'I'm sorry'. It was such an inadequate response for the slight she'd paid him but it was the only consolation she could give him. When she'd realised why he was there, she'd almost regretted her choices, both hiring Mel and not telling him the connection between them, but her stubborn nature stepped in first.
She didn't want to make the situation with Eddie worse than she already had that night at the pub; honestly, she liked having his support, making her realise how easy it would be to depend on it again, like she had before the fire. She couldn't let herself fall into that trap again. She was on her own this time, had to be, she didn't want to drag him into her mess. It had been one of the reasons she'd snapped at him earlier for questioning her appointment of Melissa, though she suspected another reason had been a vague feeling of guilt, one she'd been stubbornly ignoring since making the decision to bring Mel into her school life.
She knew the minute the words "I needed" slipped from her mouth that they were a mistake, but his pestering was finally rewarded with an honest answer. "I needed someone I could trust. I needed an alley." That had been a huge mistake. The look of hurt on his face made her want to take everything back, made the inclination to fix everything rise almost too strong to resist. She'd apologised, because she'd realised at last that Eddie deserved so much more than she gave him.
He didn't need or deserve to be treated like everyone else and held at arms length. Once, she would have been comfortable letting him closer, but she'd been haunted all summer by dreams of being so alone and isolated, she'd needed the assurance from someone she trusted completely by her side, and the only person who fit that bill was Melissa. It wasn't that she didn't trust Eddie, just maybe not as much as she thought she trusted Melissa. That was what had drawn the apology from her, the look of hurt. His angry tone resonated in her mind,
"So what am I then?" He was far too good to her. She didn't deserve his support, his strength, though he gave it unconditionally. He didn't even ask to be trusted in return, though she had tried to put her faith in him. She'd let him vent his frustrations, though her own equalled his, and she did not fight back, knowing it would only make things worse. He was allowed to voice his disapproval through entitlement of being Deputy and being her friend; she had deceived him, intentionally or not.
She maintained even now she hadn't wanted to make him angry, though she wondered now how she had intended to avoid it; whether he found out through her or someone else (no doubt Steph had opened her big trap first) he was bound to be annoyed. She had just intended to meet that reaction head on, when she was prepared, rather than having him storm into her office when she was in the middle of something else and her thoughts on the matter were scattered around the different hemispheres of her brain.
Then the picture in her thoughts shifted and she was watching Eddie share looks with Melissa in her office at the end of the day, glances of encouragement and approval, which she should have enjoyed because it meant she'd been right, but instead felt something stirred up that was completely different, something she knew she'd regret putting a name to. It was great that Mel had found her confidence, her place in the school, had proved wrong all those nameless people waiting for her and Rachel to fail.
She was also glad that as far as she knew, Eddie hadn't been difficult with Mel, had helped her in fact, because she wanted them to get along. She just hadn't expected… well, that they would get along so well. In fairness, she probably should have seen it coming; they were very similar people. Perhaps that was why she'd taken to Eddie so readily in the first place; because she was used to dealing with a personality like that. And of course, when people say opposites attract, they don't always mean it, and in this case, Rachel suspected the reverse may be true. She and Eddie were opposites, while Melissa and him were very much alike.
Yet, even while getting along so well with her sister, Eddie was still thinking of her. He'd wanted her to go tonight, "let her hair down" so to speak, and perhaps in his mind he saw it as an olive branch. But Rachel knew there was just no way she could face the staff or him after today, not so soon. And despite part of her feeling a sense of loss that he hadn't tried harder to persuade her, she was half-glad all it had taken was a shared look of knowing to make him turn away. She sometimes doubted her own will when it came to saying no to Eddie. It kept getting harder and harder and she'd yet to work out why. Until then, all she could do was hide behind her desk and hope her iron determination and sense didn't fail her at some crucial moment when she had to make the right choice.
Shaking her head, she tossed away the image of Eddie's disappointed but understanding face before he left for the night with Mel, because she was trying not to completely drown in guilt, until that scene morphed into another even more unpleasant one that floated before her, the clarity getting sharper by the second until she was screwing up her eyes in the hopes of blurring it. Unconsciously, her hand rose and tucked her collar slightly closer to her skin, a gesture that had come to be natural of late whenever she thought about her scar, for that was the image swimming before her now she'd pushed the scene in her office away.
It had been late in her sanctuary that she called an office, when she'd finally worked up the nerve to look at it. As a rule, she avoided even the thought as much as possible. She hated that this was what she had been reduced to, but knew it was necessary. She couldn't take any more time off, especially not now, and aside from that, part of her felt she deserved it. A reminder of the cost of failure. The price of her past. The only way she could earn repentance for her mistakes. Then the last memory flashed through her and all movement stilled on her part.
Eddie's arm around Melissa's back, a gentle caress that Rachel had to admit had sent her quickly back to her car, swallowing the unidentified emotion rising like bile in her throat. The engaged expressions on both her sister and her Deputy's faces were enough to tell her their thoughts were focussed on each other. The last thing she was about to do was interrupt a moment like that, both for her sister's sake and her own. She hadn't been sure about coming in the first place, now she felt certain if she went in there, she'd only hamper Melissa's getting to know everyone and possibly Eddie's chance of enjoying himself.
More than anything, Rach wanted Mel to be welcomed and enveloped by the rest of the staff, because she would make firm friends who could help her. It was a chance Rachel knew she'd missed because of her position and her own natural reserve. She couldn't afford to be over friendly, because at the end of the day she made the decisions at work and those decisions were never to everyone's taste. In the back of her mind, Rachel also had to admit she didn't want to face Eddie in such an informal situation again until she was sure she was ready. And if something was happening between her Deputy and her sister, then she certainly didn't want to be the reason it didn't. Even though in her heart, she probably didn't want that particular 'something' to happen. She hated herself for that thought.
She closed her eyes and dropped her head, leaning heavily against the chair's back, wishing without wanting to know the reason that she could erase that image from her mind's eye and memory permanently. She was happy for them. It sounded robotic, so she tried to inject some emotion into the thought. Eddie deserved happiness; so did Melissa. And if them being good friends instead of him and Rachel, meant they both were happy, then she would accept that. They would be good for each other. Eddie was the calming element Mel needed while Melissa was outgoing and fun, just what Eddie usually enjoyed. Although Rachel couldn't deny she would – well, she would miss him. His company. His time spent with her that he should rightfully be spending with others. She hated herself for that thought too.
Compared to her sister, Mel was definitely a better choice for Eddie, in both a romantic and platonic sense. She was more simple, youthful in a way Rachel had never been. Melissa could 'wing it' while Rachel always over-planned. Melissa was like Eddie. They would be happy together, sharing their ideas and supporting each other instinctively without having to learn much about the other. Determinedly, Rachel repeated she was glad for them one more time, no matter whether they were just friends or something more. Rachel almost flinched at how difficult it was to even contemplate the thought of them together. But despite the effort to persuade herself otherwise, she knew she was still… well, jealous.
She had no right to be. Eddie had made her an offer and she'd said no, had even driven him off. Or run away, depending on how you looked at it. She had no claim on her Deputy's personal time, except perhaps as friends and she was not sure that after today she could even claim that. How could you be friends with someone you didn't trust enough to tell the truth? She truly hadn't wanted to deceive him but as she'd said, she needed Melissa there and she knew her sister would be great for the job, no matter how much trouble she got from making the decision on her own. She did understand that her decision would have consequences and she was prepared to accept them. What had surprised her about the whole thing was Eddie's reaction.
He hadn't blamed her for keeping a secret because he thought she should tell him out of friendship. He was angry because she'd opened herself up to more criticism for what he perceived to be a stupid or even non-existent reason. He'd also been angry over the charade she'd played with the other staff but he never mentioned he was angry because she'd hurt him by not confiding in him. It was sweet in a way, he was concerned with how it affected everyone else, especially her, not himself at all. He'd dismissed the slight she'd paid him with barely a thought, which she knew was wrong but part of her was grateful for. He truly was one of the best men she knew. On the other hand, she thought as her pessimistic side leaked into her mind, perhaps he just didn't expect trust from her any more. God knows she couldn't blame him, she'd kept so many things from him since they met. But was that the message she'd given him when she'd said there was no 'them'?
Privately, Rachel grieved if that was the case. Much as it may not seem like it, she did trust Eddie with a lot more than normal people. But she was not a naturally open person when it came to herself, though she was very capable of affecting the opposite, several ex-boyfriends had told her they were tired of being kept at arms length over the years and that was usually the reason they left. Another reason to stop Eddie in his tracks because she knew he wouldn't let her do that. But the feeling she had to keep doing that was now compounded by the knowledge she was damaged goods, more so than ever before. And yet…
Eddie would never know how tempted she'd been by his offer – the way his fingertips had brushed her ear, threaded slightly in her hair, had made her eyelids close for a few brief but beautiful seconds. Then her sense, the part of her that was constantly reminded of the injury, her past, her mistakes, snapped into defensive mode. She could only hope he hadn't noticed that short moment of weakness, if he had then he may come back one more time to try for them once more. And Rachel wasn't sure if she was strong enough to fight the feelings welling up inside her at the sight of his open and honest face pleading with her again. It was too hard to have something she wanted, needed even, so much dangled in front of her face with only her willpower stopping her from reaching out for it. Rachel had to admit the strain had begun to show towards the end of the conversation, her voice had sounded sharp in a way she hadn't used with Eddie in a long time.
The show of her scar had been a last resort; her own feelings about it were so retched that she couldn't see how anyone else would look at it without feeling the same disgust. However, it was a moment of weakness that she realised now betrayed her far more than the twisting of her expression at the time. It demonstrated, as clearly as if she had told him, just how much she trusted him. If she didn't hold at least some respect for him, she would never have been confidant enough to reveal the very thing that had been haunting her and was forcing her to turn him away. Looking back, she was glad she'd hurried off when she did, even though she'd not been intending to leave just then; she'd seen the pity in his eyes before he'd probably acknowledged it himself, but no revulsion as she'd expected. If he'd had a chance to speak and tell her as she suspected he would, in his usual sincere way, that he didn't care about the injury, she would have had nothing left to defend herself with. And that terrified her.
Then, if and when he'd said that, she knew deep inside herself, she would have let him in. It would have been her undoing and she knew it. He would have seen it, known it signalled her defeat and would have drawn her into him, held her against him securely, and kissed her tenderly because he was "an informal sort of guy" and so impulsive. He would have accepted her into him without question. She knew he cared for her. And she cared for him. But it was too late now to be thinking such things and once more the prospect that it might be someone else she knew that would receive those attentions rose in her mind. It might be Melissa who received that warm hold, those tender kisses, not Rachel. And she would have to put a stop to the jealously rising in her throat, otherwise she would never be able to face them tomorrow without Eddie seeing exactly how she felt about seeing them together, even if they were only friends, which was possibly exactly what he wanted.
Shaking her head, Rachel slid further down to rest her forehead against her knees, knowing that was a bitter thought. Eddie wasn't manipulative. That was one of her qualities that he despised the most. No, she knew Eddie's interest in her sister was an honest one, like she'd said, they were similar people, they both had a son, they were both bloody determined and for the most part upbeat and cheerful. Rachel couldn't remember the last time she'd been like that. Well, apart from her first morning, when she'd seen Eddie, for all of about two seconds. Then he'd stood up and they'd suddenly been too close and she'd had to walk away before he saw it in her eyes. No, it was for the best what had happened this evening. Now if only she could get herself to believe it.