Chapter Twenty-Five

Two Steps Back

It was around 4:30 the next afternoon, Friday, and Evy seemed to be in much better spirits. Dean stayed home from work, and Sam took a leave of absence. Sam was surprised the news didn't break about the coach. Jordan came over the second school was out, and was there when the doorbell rang. Sam went to answer it, and let Mrs. Moreau in. She had a grim look on her face.

"Jordan, I need to talk to Evy and her father alone."

"It's okay, Mrs. Moreau." Evy said from the couch. "Jordan's family. He can stay."

"All right." Mrs. Moreau said. "I have good news and bad news."

"What's the bad news?" Evy asked. Sam and Dean were standing on the other side of the room, so Jordan grabbed and held Evy's hand.

"Coach Evans was arrested last night. But he made bail today." Mrs. Moreau said.

"He's out?" Sam asked. "How the hell is that possible?"

"I'm afraid that's not the worst of it."

"What could be worse than that?" Jordan asked.

"His lawyer made a motion today at his bail hearing. That it was wrong for him to be suspended from the school without being convicted."

"Please tell me the judge didn't go for that." Sam said.

"He did." Mrs. Moreau said. "I tried, and I tried hard, to get the judge to accept suspension with pay, but he didn't go for it."

"Why not?" Sam asked.

"Because 'it's unfair to take away either his pay or his reputation when he hasn't been found guilty'." Mrs. Moreau said.

"What does that mean?" Evy asked.

Mrs. Moreau seemed shaken. "It means I have to let him come back."

Evy's mouth dropped open in shock. "I have to go to school with him?"

"No way in hell you're going back to school." Dean said.

"No. No, that's the good news." Mrs. Moreau said. She pulled a yellow envelope out of her bag and handed it to Evy. "This is a homeschool registration form. All it needs is my signature and your father's. You can finish out the school year here at home."

"That's great!" Jordan said, as Sam and Dean nodded in agreement.

"What's so great about it?" Evy asked bitterly.

"Baby?" Sam said. "What's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" Evy asked. "Do you hear the same news I do? I either go to school and be scared because he's in the building with me, or I stay home, away from my friends, so that I don't have to be there with him."

Mrs. Moreau, Sam, Dean, and Jordan all looked unsure what to say.

Evy let go of Jordan's hand and stood up. "I'm going to my room."

No one said anything as Evy angrily stomped off to her room. Mrs. Moreau seemed lost, Dean was still fuming over the news, and Jordan was looking towards Evy's room. Sam stood up and prepared to walk down there.

"Can you wait before you leave?" Sam said. "Let me talk to her?"

"Yeah." Mrs. Moreau said. "Don't come down on her for it, though. I should have thought about that before I brought it up."

"It's okay." Sam said. "I'll be right back."

Sam walked down the hall towards her room, expecting to find her still angry. Which made him all the more surprised when he heard her crying. He knocked but opened the door without waiting for an answer. Sam found her curled up in the fetal position on her bed, crying bitterly. Had he thought for half a second more, he never would have sat on her bed and placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Baby, talk to…" Sam started to say.

Evy suddenly jumped up and scrambled to the other side of the bed.

"Baby?" Sam asked. "What is it?"
Evy swallowed hard and put a hand to her heart. "Don't do that. I didn't know you were behind me."

"Sorry. I thought you heard me knock and come in." Sam said.

"No." Evy said. "I didn't."
"Okay. I'm sorry, baby." Sam said. "I just came to check on you."
Evy dropped the hand she was clutching to her heart. "I hate this." She said with more tears in her eyes.

"Hate what?" Sam prodded gently.

"Feeling like this. Scared." Evy said. "It won't go away."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Sam asked.

Evy looked down and studied her bedspread closely. It felt like forever to both of them, but Sam waited patiently for her to speak. Just as Sam was about to extend the question again, Evy said,

"When that car hit us, when I was eight? I don't know if you remember or not, but you were unconscious for a few seconds right after it happened."

Sam did remember being dazed, and he did remember that it was Evy's screaming that made him wake up completely. "I remember."

"When it…when he…" Evy swallowed; she was still having trouble saying it. Sam nodded to show he understood so she could keep going. "That was what I kept thinking about. Not you being unconscious, but when you finally woke up."

"What do you mean, that's what you kept thinking about?" Sam asked.

"It's how I got through it. I was just as scared as I was in that car, but I knew…" Evy had to keep stopping to catch her breath, so Sam waited and just let her talk. She wiped at her eyes and said, "I knew that, eventually I'd be back home with you."

Sam felt the air leave his chest. At what had to be the scariest moment of Evy's life, she'd been thinking of him. He didn't quite know how to take that. A part of him, one that he hated to admit was there, actually liked it. It meant she trusted him to protect her. But that was exactly the problem. He hadn't been there when she needed him more than ever. And the guilt for that had been eating him alive.

"I'm so sorry I didn't protect you."

Evy looked up at him, surprised at his sudden admission. "What?"

"I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you." Sam said again. "I wish I could take that back."

"I didn't tell you that to make you feel bad." Evy said. "I don't blame you."

"I know. I just wish I could do something more than…"
"Stop." Evy said. "Just like you told me it wasn't my fault, it wasn't yours either."

"Okay. Alright." Sam said. Attempting to change the subject, he asked, "What do you want to do about school?"

That set off more tears from Evy.
"Breathe, baby. Take your time." Sam said. Everything in him wanted to grab her and hug her, but he resisted. After a few seconds, he asked, "Do you want to take some time to think about it?"

"NO!" Evy shouted. "No, I don't want to think about it! I want him gone!"

"I know, baby." Sam said.

"I wanted to go back to school and feel safe." Evy explained. "That's why I stopped doing anything. I was scared he was going to pull me out of class or something."

"That can't happen." Sam and Dean looked at the bedroom door, where Mrs. Moreau was standing. "Can I come in?" Evy nodded and Mrs. Moreau stepped in. "He can't call you. The protective order is still in place. If he comes near you, even at school, he gets arrested."

"But he's still going to be there." Evy argued.

"Yeah. I'm sorry, sweetie."

"I was so excited to go back. I just wanted to feel safe." Evy said.

"You don't have to make a choice right now." Mrs. Moreau said. "I can leave the form with your dad and he can turn it in when you're ready."

"Or, if you want to go, we'll back you up on that too." Sam said.

"The hell we will…" Dean was there now too.

"Would everybody just stop talking? Please?" Evy asked impatiently. When everyone looked guilty, she explained, "I don't know what I want to do yet. I feel like if I don't go to school, I'm letting him win."

"Baby, listen to me." Sam said. "No matter what you decide to do, you are a strong, brave person. No one in this house right now will think any less of you if you decide to stay home."

"I shouldn't have to be strong and brave just to go to school." Evy said. The tears were finally starting to slow down, from exhaustion rather than feeling any better. "It's exhausting and it's not fair."

"No, it's not." Mrs. Moreau said. "Listen, sweetie. I'm going to leave the form with your dad, okay? Just think about it. Take your time and think about it."

Evy nodded. "Thank you. I'm sorry I stomped out on you. I know you're just trying to help."

Mrs. Moreau walked over to Evy's side of the bed and sat down next to her. In Evy's eyes she saw herself at fourteen, scared and hurting. She knew that Evy had never had a mother, so she reached out and took Evy's hand in hers and squeezed it. Her own mother had never believed what happened to her. So she would be the supportive mother for Evy. She would work with Sam and Dean and help Evy to get through this.

"Don't ever apologize for being angry about this. You should be angry about this. He took something from you that was not his to take. He hurt you in the worst way possible. Taking time to recover, to get your strength back, and your mind right is not letting him win. Do you understand me?" Mrs. Moreau said.

Evy nodded slowly. "I understand."

"Okay. I meant what I said. Take your time, think about it. And call me. I don't care what time of day it is. Call me if you want to talk. About this, about school, I don't care. If you need me, call. All right?" Mrs. Moreau said.

"Thank you." Evy said.

"Anytime." Mrs. Moreau said. "I have to get home. I'll see you soon."

"Bye." Evy said. She looked around and noticed someone missing. "Where's Jordan?"

"Oh. He told me to tell you that he had to go and make sure you watch the eleven o'clock news tonight." Mrs. Moreau said.

Puzzled, Evy looked to Sam, who shrugged. He too was intrigued. "Okay. We will."

Everyone said goodbye to Mrs. Moreau, then Sam turned back towards Evy. Dean left the room, fuming that Sam was even considering allowing Evy to go back to school. He was reconsidering his promise to Evy that he wouldn't go after the coach. Back in the bedroom, Sam was waiting. He wasn't sure if Evy wanted him there or not. Evy was staring at her blanket again. She had the homeschool agreement in front of her.

"Do you know what you want to do?" Sam asked.

Evy looked up and Sam saw tears forming again.

She's exhausted, Sam thought.

"I can't do it." Evy whispered. "I can't be there with him."

"And that's okay. Look, school ends in six weeks. We'll finish up your year here. Hopefully, by the time September rolls around, that bastard will be in jail for what he did to you." Sam said. "Staying here does not make you weak or mean that he's won. It means that you'll be that much stronger when it's time to put him away."

Evy smiled, the first real, genuine smile that Sam had seen from her in weeks. She climbed over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, squeezing tightly and holding on as if Sam was a life preserver and she was drowning. It wasn't far from the truth-she had been feeling lost, confused, and overwhelmed for so long that she'd forgotten it was okay to let out all those feelings. Especially here at home, the safest place she could be.

"I love you, daddy."

Sam nearly cried himself. Evy hadn't said she loved him at all since the entire ordeal had started. Sam hadn't doubted that she did, but he had wondered before yesterday if he was losing her to some unseen, menacing force. The thought alone was terrifying. But maybe, just maybe, she was coming back to him. Sam embraced her, swearing to hold her up and help her however she needed.

"I love you too, baby. I love you more than anything else in this whole world."

When Evy pulled away from him, she was reaching up to wipe her face, and Sam took over. He thought of the many times he'd done that in his life, and felt a renewed appreciation for being able to do it again.

"Why do you think Jordan wanted us to watch the news tonight? His mom does the six o'clock show." Evy asked. Mrs. Tyler had once been the secretary at Evy and Jordan's school, but had completed a degree in journalism since then and gotten a job as a producer and newscaster at the local station.

"I don't know. I guess we'll find out later." Sam said. "You hungry?"

Six hours later, they did find out. Dean had been preparing to leave to blow off steam, but had decided to stay behind when Sam told him that Evy had decided on the homeschooling. Sam had another conversation with him about saying things like he was going after the coach in front of Evy. He reminded Dean that it scared her and made her feel worse, so he told him firmly to "reign it in." At ll:00 that night, the theme music for the local broadcast started. The top story made them gasp in surprise.

"Our top story tonight. Local high school basketball coach Bill Evans was arrested earlier this week and accused of sexually assaulting one of his female players. But in a bizarre twist, he has been allowed to return to work. More coming up."

"What in the…?" Dean started to say.

None of them knew what to make of it. Evy's phone beeped with a text from Jordan. She had told him earlier that she was taking the homeschooling option, at least until the case was over. She'd thought it odd that his only answer was 'okay' when he'd been worrying and fussing over her ever since she'd started acting funny the month before. The text she got now told her why.

Don't let him make you feel weak or unsafe. Nobody messes with my family. I told my mom about him being let go. They're not going to mention your name, but nobody's going to want their kids with Evans now. Hope you're not mad at me for not telling you I was going to do it.

Evy showed the text to Sam and Dean.

"Son of a bitch." Dean said. "I always liked that kid."

Sam and Evy laughed, then Sam said to her, "See, baby? You are strong."

You rock. You're the best. Love you brother 3

"Why don't you get ready for bed, baby?" Sam asked.

"I will." Evy said with a loud yawn. "Good night, uncle Dean."

"Night, kiddo. Love you."

"Love you more." Evy said.

"Good night, baby." Sam said.

Evy turned back to Sam, biting her bottom lip. The look in her eye immediately reminded Sam of what she'd been through with the Genai. Pulling her from Cass's arms when she'd arrived back to Jody's. Holding her during the next three days while she cried and shook in fear. Listening to what had happened to her, and reassuring her that he didn't hate her, no matter what. Sam shook the unpleasant memory out of his head.

"Will you stay again? Till I go to sleep?"

Sam stood up and kissed her forehead. "Anytime you want, baby."

Next Chapter: The trial commences, and Evy faces the coach one more time.