Nobody likes pain. Nobody likes to think back on their lives and feel their scars reopen. Everyone has a way to avoid it. Everyone has a secret escape route tucked away for safe keeping. Some turn to drink. Some pleasure. Others find comfort in friendship. But not Andrea. She preferred silence and solitude, peace and quiet. And a dark spot away from spying eyes.

Taylor's breathing fast. She's not sure what she's watching, not sure whether to intervene or not. Her eyes are glued to the serenity passing over Andrea's face, the look of peace. She's never seen the emo look so calm, and it worries her. It intrigues her. Maybe that's why she can't leave. She wants to know why. Why is Andrea like that? Why is she here? Taylor doesn't have to wait long to see an answer. Her breath catches when she sees the blade. Her eyes widen and she takes a sudden step closer to the door.

She's lost count of how many times she's sneaked in here, this room of refuge. She's never paid enough attention to remember properly. Too busy focusing on hiding away. She's already set up in the teachers desk chair, staring up at the ceiling. She knows she should probably use one of the other seats but she's far too comfy now to move. Her mind is a foggy blaze of buried memories and unshed tears. They haunt her relentlessly and continue to force her to come down here. They force her to hurt. She vaguely registers the gentle tapping of little droplets hitting the floor by her foot. She vaguely feels a warmth burn somewhere by her wrist. She knows it hurts but she can't feel it. It's an addiction. Feeling this way. An incurable disease. A want of pain and release mixed into one carefully measured adrenaline filled cut. Andrea closes her eyes and tips her head back, letting herself sink inside it. Because it's like being in another world. A mini break from reality. And she needs that today. She craves it. She always craves it.

Taylor tastes blood. She sees blood. She's biting her lip so hard to stop herself from rushing into the room. She wants to stop the emo. Wants to stop the blood. But she knows she shouldn't. Knows this is a routine for Andrea, an escape. And if that's broken by her, a chav, there will be hell to pay. So she stands, nervously shifting her weight from leg to leg and biting down harder on her bottom lip when she watches Andrea make another cut. Taylor shivers. The dead look in Andrea's eyes while she contemplates where to press the blade frightens Taylor. It's so cold and detached. But that smile is anything but. She never understood before how someone could get off on harming themselves like that. Never really got how it could be addictive. But now she did. She was trapped just watching it happen. She wanted both to see more and make it stop. So how must it feel to be the cutter? Andrea's spaced out smile says it all. It's peaceful. It's release.

The dripping slows after a moment and she's brought back with a sharp sting in her right hand. The cold air trickling in from the window rests over her open skin, burns it. She keeps her eyes closed. She knows if she looked down at the floor she'd feel sick. She'd be sick. Something that continues to embarrass her as an emo. Her wrist is drenched. Arm is sticky. Her hand tickles with the trails of red dripping off her fingers. Her entire right side is probably covered with it. She doesn't like this bit. She doesn't like coming back to the reality of it. It hurts more than what the cut should.

She's pacing silently up and down by the door, mentally cussing at herself. She shouldn't have watched that. She shouldn't have stayed. She should have gone in and stopped it. She's scared. Absolutely scared. That was a lot of blood. That was a lot of colour leaving Andrea's already pale face. That is a very very deep cut. Taylor's trembling. Her hands are shaking. All she can see is blood and Andrea's closed eyes and her white skin. All she can think about is going in there and finding Andrea is a corpse. A real corpse. She's scratching lines into her neck trying to stay quiet, trying to cover up the stress. She should go in. Definitely. She should also leave. The indecision is killing her. She hates not knowing what to do. So she looks back at the room and finally stops pacing. Her breathing slows and her mind goes blank.

She shifts herself in her seat and her foot slips through the sticky liquid covering the floor beside the chair. She swallows. Maybe she took it too far. Too late now. She picks up her tie from her lap and blindly wraps it around her wrist, refusing to look at what she's done. She never can. She always feels sick afterwards, ashamed. She shakily stands, shaking her head to rid herself of the dizziness, and steadily makes her way over to her bag in the corner.

The emo is moving again. She's getting up. Taylor let's out a deep breath. For a second there she thought... She shakes her head. She doesn't want to think about what she thought. Her eyes follow Andrea to the back of the room, to a bag she had stashed behind a desk. Taylor frowns to herself. Now what's she doing? Andrea pulls the bag up onto the table and Taylor's so close to the door she can smell the old paint. She's holding her breath waiting. Andrea's hands come up to unbutton her shirt, right arm staining the white fabric more. Taylor's still watching. She feels like a peeping tom but she needs to know what happens next. Andrea stiffly pulls the shirt off and then Taylor does gasp. Andrea's body is covered in scars. White ones she's done before. Faded ones from years ago. And the ones Taylor can't stand looking at, the raised pink ones. The fresh ones. She feels a tear slip down her cheek. She's thinking about all the pain that must cause the emo. About the pain she must have been in creating them. The pain she was in to have created them. Taylor can't take it anymore. She opens the door and cautiously walks up to Andrea.

She hears footsteps but doesn't react. She's still a little blurry. A voice mumbles her name but she can't think enough to register who it belongs to. A hand strokes her cheek, an arm snakes her waist, and a warmth floods through her when she looks up at Taylor. The chav looks concerned. Actually concerned for her. Andrea wants to laugh. The chav grasps her right hand and gently raises it up. Andrea doesn't like how red Taylor's fingers go when she picks the tie loose. She wants Taylor to stop. She doesn't want her seeing what she's done but she doesn't want her not to either. In a way she's glad the chav found her. She's sick of hiding. Taylor's eyes are burning with something as she lets the sodden tie drop to the floor and it confuses Andrea. Is that pain in the chavs eyes? Actual pain? She watches Taylor take in the open wound, watches her swallow. Is she trying to stop herself being sick? Probably. Andrea wouldn't blame her. She feels woozy again and sways a little. Taylor catches her. Surprises her. Andrea looks up at her. Taylor caught her.

Taylor's heart is running a mile in her chest. And her brain is doubling that speed. She's thinking about what she should do. What she has to do. She should shout for help. She should call someone. She should drag the emo kicking and screaming to matron to get sorted out. But she doesn't. She just holds Andrea tighter against her, steadying her against the dizziness. Becomes her anchor to consciousness and reality. She surprised herself when she caught the girl, when she walked in, when she stopped outside the door, when she followed her out the dorm, when she noticed that strange look in Andrea's eyes during lessons. She surprised herself. And she surprised Andrea too. There's a tension in the body she's holding. There's an angry flicker in those hazel eyes. There's a vague weak promise of pain later. But Taylor doesn't care. She never cared about that. She never cared about the emo. Until now. She can feel Andrea's heart stab into her, can see it pumping more blood out of her wrist. She presses her palm over it, squeezing over the cut to stop it bleeding. Andrea shakes a little in her grasp, she gasps aloud with the pain. Taylor's thumb strokes reassurance on the emos wrist and she holds Andrea closer.

Andrea can feel the tears coming. Can feel the breakdown creeping up on her. She needs Taylor to get off now. She needs to stop it before she infects the chav like she did the others. She's not sure why she cares about that. Not sure why she cares about anything. Taylor's stroking her skin, rubbing the blood into both of them. It's comforting. It's reassurance. It's a promise she'll help. Andrea never had help before. She never asked for it. Maybe she needs it. She breathes calmly in and out, using the slow rise and fall of Taylor's chest as a marker for her own breaths. Her heart slows back to normal, her mind clears. She looks up at Taylor. She's still staring at her arm. There's a fear in those eyes. And Andrea doesn't like it. Taylor pulls her own tie out of her pocket and wraps it tight above the cut, praying it works as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding. Andrea's surprised. She didn't know Taylor knew first aid. She raises her hand to touch Taylor's neck, to feel a heart beat strong against her fingers, and she uses it as a beacon for her own. Taylor glanced down at her confused. Andrea feels nervous. Here come the questions.

Andrea doesn't say anything. She doesn't need to. Taylor can tell she's scared. She starts moving the emo away to a table so they can both sit, worrying Andrea might collapse if she stays standing. She keeps her close when they do sit. She needs to keep a hand over the bleeding and a hand on the girls heartbeat. She's worried of what might happen if she let go of both. Andrea looks pale, so pale. Her eyes are missing their usual mischief and danger. There's only pain and sadness in them now. And Taylor hates it. She shifts closer, pulls Andrea into her some more, and she smiles when the emo eventually rests her head on her shoulder. Taylor let's out a heavy breath, let's out the tension, and forces herself to calm a little. And Andrea copies her.

Taylor doesn't need to ask questions. Doesn't need to voice a judgments. Because there are none. Andrea can feel the chavs protectiveness for her in her hug. Can feel the worry in the hand pressed tight over her wrist. Can hear the need to find out why in those almost silent breaths of stress creeping out between the calm ones. Andrea doesn't tell her. Andrea won't tell her. She came here to avoid all that. But then... She can't not tell the chav. Not now she's seen this. She takes a deep breath and forces herself to look up and face her. Her heart is pounding in her throat. Her mind is throwing her all the different looks of disgust Taylor will throw at her, all the names and blackmails. It makes her feel sick as she pulls her eyes up.

She almost cries when she sees Taylor's smile. It's one of comfort. Of warmth. She doesn't need to know. She doesn't want to know. Not if Andrea doesn't want her to. Andrea feels herself break then. She feels the tears slip down her cheeks, watches them stain Taylor's shirt. She feels so relieved and bad all at once. Taylor just holds her tighter, holds her together. And promises she'll make it better, she'll make it alright. And Andrea believes her.