|What Lies Beneath
Author: letmefallasleep PM
Tig/Gemma friendship, pre-SOA. "So I'll find what lies beneath your sick and twisted smile." Title from Breaking Benjamin. Rated T for child abuse, and some language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Gemma & Tig - Chapters: 7 - Words: 8,667 - Reviews: 31 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 09-29-12 - Published: 03-05-12 - id: 7897659
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Alright, so this is my opinion on Tig's life before SOA, and his relationship with Gemma. His background is never really mentioned, but I read somewhere that he was a Charming native, so I'm going with that. I know I have another Tig story going, but it's just not working out the way I wanted, so I'm gonna pull it down, and focus on this one. If this gets a few good reviews, I'll carry it on. The first half is gonna focus on Tig and Gemma, maybe with a little bit of Wayne Uncer thrown in (he's the only other Charming native from that generation), then the second half will take place shortly after Gemma comes back to Charming with JT after the creation of the Sons. I figure about ten chapters max, so relatively short. Again, if you like, please leave a review, even if it's just 'like', because I'm not gonna waste my time continuing a story that gets one or two reviews a chapter.
Thirteen year old Gemma Maddock was nearly asleep when she heard the quiet tapping on her window.
Groggily, she threw the covers off, and stumbled over to the window, throwing it open, and sticking her head out.
"Alex, what the hell are you doing? It's two o'clock in the morning!" She hissed, glancing around for her best friend. "Oh my God, Alex, what happened?"
Fifteen year old Alex Trager came into the dim light shining through the window, his face beaten, and bloody. Gemma helped him through the window, before going over and locking her door quietly.
"Sit on the bed, Alex," She ordered, moving into her attached bathroom, and grabbing her first aid kit that she kept solely for this purpose. Grabbing the roll of toilet paper as well, she strode back into the bedroom, where Alex was sitting uneasily on the edge of her bed.
In the light, she could see that it was worse than it'd looked at first glance. His nose was still bleeding, his lip was misshapen, and the entire left side of his face had practically been beaten raw.
"Jesus, Alex. What happened?"
The young man tried smiling at her, but the look was grotesque, and he quickly gave up, and settled on a shrug. "Same thing as always."
Gemma snorted, as she tenderly rubbed alcohol on the side of his face, forcing herself to ignore his pained hiss. "What, the beer not cold enough?"
Alex glared at her, but the effect was only half-assed due to only having one eye that wasn't swollen shut. "Shut up, Gemma. It's not a big deal."
"Really, Alex? Look at you! Let me guess: it's not just your face either, is it? Don't lie to me, Alex… I'm not in the mood, I'm really not. I've got two tests tomorrow, Alex. Two! What the hell are you doing?" She snapped, as Alex tried standing up.
"I'm leavin'. Wouldn't wanna… 'inconvenience' you, Gemma," Alex snapped, head held high, but Gemma could see the slight quiver of his chin.
She rolled her eyes, as she pushed him back down. "Don't be stupid, Trager. That's not what I meant, and you know it. I meant, I don't have all night to force answers out of you, so just tell me where you hurt. None of that 'macho man' crap, you hear me?"
Alex sighed, and his head drooped again. "I uh… My ribs, and uh… my wrist is pretty sore," He mumbled, staring at the floor.
Gemma sighed. "Not much I can do for your ribs. You're just gonna have to take it easy for a few days. But I can wrap up your wrist. Give me your arm," She ordered, pulling his sleeve up as he obeyed. She stared for a moment, forcing herself to keep her stomach from heaving at the sight.
"Alex… This looks like… Jesus, did they… Is this…" She paused, unable to continue as she stared at the thick black bruises, and thin line of blood encircling his wrist.
"Doesn't matter, babe," Alex whispered, turning his head towards the wall. Gemma purposefully ignored the single tear that made its way down his bruised face, as she gently wrapped a few layers of gauze around his wrist, wincing at his sharp intake of breathe when she tied it off.
"Gemma, don't. Please," He asked softly. "Just… don't."
Gemma bit her lip as she nodded. "Alright," She said softly. "Alright, Alex. Come on."
She climbed onto the other side of the bed, and pulled him down next to her, before pulling the blankets up over the two of them. She carefully tucked him in, and reached over for the light on the night stand, when Alex's pleading voice stopped her.
"Leave it on. Please," He begged.
"Alright. I'll just turn it low, alright?" She reached over and clicked the switch twice, in effect, turning it into a nightlight, before lightly pressing herself against his back, and wrapping her arms around him.
She held him tightly, humming a lullaby into his ear, as he slowly began to shake from tears, before they both finally fell into a fitful sleep.
They had known each other since elementary school. Gemma had been in kindergarten, while Alex had been in first grade when they first met on the playground. A group of children had been teasing Alex about his ratty clothes, and his black eye, when five year old Gemma had stepped in. That day was the first day she shared her lunch with him, although over the years, it would become a habit.
She was almost nine when she finally figured out why her best friend –her only friend, really –was constantly covered in cuts and bruises. Why he missed so many days of school, or why he was always starving whenever she saw him. It had been at one of those stupid school assembly things that seemed to be going on every day. All about 'children's rights'. The woman –an elderly lady, who had a gentle smile –talked about how sometimes parents did bad things. How sometimes they hit their children, even though it wasn't right.
"Where the hell are you goin'?"
Gemma looked up in surprise at Alex, who had a death grip on her arm. "I'm goin' to talk to Mrs. Halloway," She said quickly, trying to pull away, only to have Alex tug her back again.
"I don't think so," He hissed.
"But, Alex… If it's your parents that… that do that to you, she can help!" Gemma pleaded. "She can make them not do that anymore! I mean, that is what's goin' on, isn't it?" As the older boy stared coldly, she yanked her arm away. "I'm gonna talk to her."
She yelped when she felt him grab her hair, as he yanked her back, hard. "Alex, what're you doing?"
"Gemma, you can't tell anyone! You can't say anything, do you understand?" He said angrily. "It'll only be worse if you do."
"Gemma, please! She can't help me! You think I haven't tried before?"
"Ms. Maddock… Mr. Trager. Is there a problem here?"
Both children spun around –Alex quickly releasing his grip on Gemma's hair –and found themselves face to face with the principal.
"No, Principal Hunsinger," Gemma said sweetly, crossing her hands in front of her as she put on her best smile. "Alex was just keeping me from falling. I tripped, and he tried to grab me… It was my fault really. I'm so clumsy," She said with a giggle. "I'd rather he pull my hair a little bit than the bruise I'd get if I fell."
Principal Hunsinger glared down at Alex. "Is that so. Mr. Trager, is that what happened?"
Alex shifted from foot to foot. "Yeah. Yeah, that's what happened. I was tryin' to grab her dress, but I missed."
The principal huffed, before turning his attention back to Gemma. "Ms. Maddock, do try and be more careful. Are you going to speak to Mrs. Halloway?"
Gemma opened her mouth, and went to speak…
And then she seen the scared, pleading look on Alex's face.
"No, sir," She said finally. "I was just going 'cause my friends were."
" 'Because', Ms. Maddock. And if you don't have any questions for the speaker, then you need to head to the cafeteria for lunch. Understood? That goes for you too, Mr. Trager."
"Yes, sir," They said in unison, scuttling away from the tall man.
"Thank you, Gemma," Alex said quietly as they founded the corner of the hallway.
"Don't thank me yet, Alex. You better give me a good explanation, or I'm going right back. I even copied down that phone number she gave us. See?" She said smugly, holding up her hand to show him the number she'd written down. "So let's talk."
The two children sat outside on top of the monkey bars, each waiting for the other to begin speaking. Finally, Gemma cleared her throat.
"Was I right, Alex? Do your parents… do they hit you?" She asked quietly.
Alex snorted, looking at his hands, as he said, "They do a lot more than just hit me, Gemma."
"Then why didn't you let me talk to Mrs. Halloway? She said she could help!"
"Because she can't help, Gemma!" Alex said angrily. "None of 'em can help! You think I haven't tried?" He swiped at his face furiously, trying unsuccessfully to hide his tears. "I tried talkin' to the principal, I tried talking to my teacher… The principal didn't do anything, and all the teacher did was call my mom. I got home that night, and her boyfriend broke my jaw, Gemma. That's what happens when people try to 'help' me," He whispered defeatedly, his shoulders slumping. "It only makes it worse."
Gemma reached over and hugged him as best she could while trying to maintain her balance. "So what do I do, Alex? How can I stop them from hurting you?"
"You can't, Gemma. There's nothing you can do. Or nothing you can do that won't make it worse for me. That's why you can't tell anybody. Not like they'll believe you anyways."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that I'm a problem kid. Nobody cares what happens to me. If George or my mom killed me tonight, nobody would even notice. Nobody would care. Hell, half of 'em would probably think I deserved it."
He nearly fell off the monkey bars when Gemma's small hand smacked him across the face.
"Don't you say that, Alex Trager! I care! I would notice! You're my best friend in the whole world! I'd never be happy again if something happened to you!"