S c o t t

Love. Hate. Fear. Such intense emotions. Such extremities. I feel a bit like a melodramatic brat occasionally, after I've just blown up at someone. I've been blowing up a lot lately. Sometimes I wish everyone would just back off, I hate their voices prying into my walls. My walls were so carefully constructed, the mask almost flawless. I was obnoxious and conceited. Spoiled, rebellious, good at many things and looking down at all others. I'd walk through the school hallways, the haughty pout and stupid, meaningless words spilling from my mouth. I had the perfect life. At least I did in daytime. My nightmares came out at night. At night I screamed. My male dignity was nothing, I was nothing, there would be nothing left in me. I'd cry and I'd hate it all. Then the sun would come up again, and with the dawn she would walk out. The sun chased her away, and I'd be protected for a handful of hours until the torture came again. I tried not to think about it, not in the daylight, not when she couldn't get me. I would not let her take over my entire life. My days were my own. I tried not to feel her luring hands on me every time anyone at school so much as patted my shoulder. I tried not to feel her lips pressed against mine, her body crushed into me… But no matter what I said to myself, she was over me always, in my head, in the phantom movements my body will always remember. It was worst when I looked into the eyes of my father. So trusting. So oblivious. He'd boast about our perfect family, our lovely life. He'd celebrate how lucky we were to have found each other in the world. How he couldn't see the way his new wife looked at me, I have no idea. How he always seemed to be looking the other way when her hands rubbed my upper thighs, I'm not able to explain. All I know is that I was in crisis, my life was shaken up and ripped apart, and my own father didn't notice. It was in his home. At least three times a week she would leave his room, leave his bed, and slip into his sons. Of course, she usually only dared to do it when he was out of town, or away at some late business thing. But once she realized how easy it was, she started to creep in when he was home. The days I thought were safe were wrenched away from me. And shortly after that, she started lingering longer. On weekends, she would even slip in during the afternoon. It was this time when I knew that I couldn't pretend anymore. I had to get out. The sun didn't save me anymore. And if sun couldn't banish her, I knew she'd only get bolder.

The truth, as you all probably know, is that I did think it was my fault. From the moment she touched me onwards I've been eaten alive by guilt. I knew I was such a screwed up kid. Who sleeps with their step mom? More importantly to me, what fifteen-year-old 150-pound football playing teenage guy claims that his 110-some pound stepmother molested him? Like I couldn't defend myself, like she was making me and I was so completely helpless. I found it hard to come to terms with the fact that it was even possible for an adult male to get raped by a woman. She wasn't stronger, faster, anything. Well, she was more ruthless. I'm one of those guys who would never lay a hand on any girl, no matter what. Which made it a bit of a predicament when the only way I could really get the step monster off me was if I used brute force. Then there was the concern that if I ever did anything, she'd easily be able to tell everyone I had forced myself onto her. It was more believable. I was so weak, so pathetic. The really sad thing is I only ever thought about how wrong it was in the first few moments. The moment she really got into it, my brain would stop and my ever-unfaithful penis would be the all-ruling force. Stupid teenage hormones. Of course, I'd feel like slitting my wrists when she left. It all made me feel so sick. Dirty.

That gold digging disturbed wife of my father made my life a very confused mess. It was after I figured out I didn't love her, and she didn't love me that I really started in on it. To get away from the sickness, I did drugs. Which inevitably made me feel sick as well. So I did more. Drugs and sex and a streak of wildness that exploded from me, trying to make it all stop. Or maybe to try and make me fit into the madness, to grasp some sort of control. That may be hard to understand, but I couldn't control what that slut did to me- therefore I figured I could seize control of everything else. Control being a loose term. No one could force me to go to school- I skipped. No one could tell me what to put in my body- drugs. Unfortunately they could tell me I couldn't do football anymore, which is what they did. And they could tell me that if I didn't start showing up for class, they'd make sure I never showed up again. My clueless dad, wondering where his golden boy had gone. I became addicted to smoking. Petty theft (if you haven't noticed yet, I was pretty hateful towards rules). Vandalism. Met some pretty freaky people and did a lot of things I was too high at the time to be able to list now. All to try and make sense of her. I turned myself into a guy who would sleep with his stepmother.

The drugs helped. They helped me forget, let me be happy. It didn't even hurt as much as I thought it would when they took away football from me. As long as I had my stash to lull me into a different reality, I'd be all right. I don't think I'd have lasted without cigarettes. They seriously soothed my nerves. Of course, it was this that my dad chose to notice. How could he not? The school called him, broadcasting my bad grades and drug dabbling. And the theft was also noted. He couldn't stand the thought of his only son breaking up his perfect little family. He sent me to get fixed. He couldn't fix me himself, couldn't take the time to be with me, to talk to me. If he'd only asked me what was wrong, if only he'd shown me the understanding and unconditional love and acceptance he showered on her… If only he truly cared, maybe I wouldn't be sitting here right now, in the middle of my dorm in the fix-up school for fucked up kids.

My father only knew a drop of what I did, knew I got kicked off the team, knew I was failing my classes and was nearing expulsion. But he thought I only did weed, and thought a little vandalism on the mall walls was the worst crime I committed. Even that drop of knowledge was enough to send me away to what I thought was a hick retarded rip-off school in the middle of nowhere. My dad needed a cure for me. He spent so much cash to get me fixed, when all he actually had to do was tell his wife to get out. But he would never have done that. No, they were too deeply "in love" to do that. Really, dad, do you think a woman closer to my age than yours would seriously want to marry you out of love? Blind, stupid, naïve…negligent… the words I will never say to him.

Anyways, I screwed my life over and knew it was completely my fault. At the time, I didn't care. Well, I did, but at the time I didn't think I deserved any better, or that I had much else to live for.

Horizon taught me differently. That stupid hick school saved my life. And I met some gorgeous women while I was soul searching. Juliette was a sweetheart. Sophie was a hard ass (and had one too). And Shelby, well, Shelby sent me so many mixed signals I thought I'd go insane when I went out with her. Peter was like the father I wished I had, Auggie was the real, raw friend I never knew, Daisy was the frank, unyielding rock that told me straight up things I needed to hear when no one else would or could tell me. Everyone there helped me. And I like to think I helped them.

But I'm rambling, aren't I? What do you lot even care about a guy like me? Horizon, saving the lives of teens who would have killed themselves, OD, starved to death, or been killed otherwise, even Horizon is just a blimp in the world. We're screw-ups. We're scum. Except they've actually managed to convince us all that we're not. No matter what the rest of the world may think, they were so completely unshaken on their belief that we were good people, that we weren't screw-ups who had irreversibly ruined our lives for good.

Again, what does all this mean to you? Maybe nothing. But this is my story, and I'm going to tell it whether you want to hear it or not. I've hated my self for so long. I've stuffed all the darkness inside of me, hidden away from concerned eyes. That path can only lead to suffering. That's the road to destruction, and if you make me keep my silence, I will implode.

It feels like a lifetime ago that I arrived at Horizon that first day. I was in a really bad state. In that one day, I had tried to run away twice, and had actually prodded the camp director, Peter, to ask if I was gay. Let's just say I was a bit of a macho brat and slightly amused that anyone would think that of me. At my old school, I had been a bit of a player. I was the most popular guy there, and everyone knew it. I was Golden.

It didn't take long for me to realize that life at Horizon wouldn't be too different in that respect. Two girls from my Cliffhangers group spotted me as soon as they walked through the door the first hour or so that I was there. I was sulking at a table by myself, but I hadn't failed to notice the way they were glancing at me, impatiently waiting for their food. This was the first time Shelby spoke to me. Juliette had gotten her food first, but good ol' Shelby, ever the determined one, had pushed Jules to the ground and darted over to me. Seriously, I told you I was Golden. Of course, the first words she said to me were to offer me something to get high on, and though I was by no means unfamiliar with drugs, this didn't exactly endear me to her. All right, if I were to be honest, the first thoughts that went into my mind about Shelby were that she was white trash. Call me judgemental and superficial, but I didn't want to tangle in that tough slut-queen bitch, as she had appeared to me in the first while that I knew her. She was pretty, but then when I could get pretty any day, I tended to look for girls with personalities that suited me. And I didn't want to be known as the boy toy of Trailer Trash girl at my new high school. These thoughts drastically changed, mind you, and now I'm ashamed I ever thought of her that way. But this isn't about making me look good, it's about being frank.

That first night was hard. I had managed to book it out of Horizon and into town, where I proceeded to be a further fuck up and I trashed this house completely. When Peter showed up I had a mini-breakdown and it was only by his good graces that I wasn't kicked out of Horizon before I even started.

Let's be clear, for a moment. I'm not a bad kid. I'm sure I never really was one. I just had a lot of shit to get through, and I thrashed out any way I could. I was hiding, I was faking it all. Like I said earlier, I had a lot of pride. Elaine had wounded that pride and there was no way I'd ever let anyone see that. I was sick inside.

It's pretty cliché; I'd have to admit. A good kid making bad choices until someone saved them. I'd like to think I would've dug myself out of the hole I was in by myself if I had to, but I know that if not for Horizon, I'd probably have spiralled down into death. If I hadn't gotten out of that house, I wouldn't have a life to return to. Horizon was tough, but it had to be to get through to me.

This reflection of mine is sounding really stupid, isn't it? I guess I'll end it at this. I found love for myself again at that school, and I learned to love others again. I found myself under all the crap I hid behind, and I'm pretty sure I cried more than any of the girls did. I'm Scott Barringer, my stepmother molested me, I dabbled into drugs, and I became a complete ass hole. And I wouldn't say I'm cured, but I did find people who would never judge me, would never toss me away after learning the truth. I was accepted. They didn't baby me, I always had to take responsibility for my actions, and myself but they really cared. They noticed things about me. They saw through my mask, they saw when something was bothering me, and unlike other people, they made sure I knew that if I wanted to talk about it, they'd be there. They didn't pressure me into talking about things before I was ready to, but they never made me feel like I had no one to talk to. Really, they were more of a family than I had ever known.

"Has anyone ever told you that you look really cute when you're concentrating?" a melodic voice smiled over my shoulder. I tore myself away and looked up into Juliette's soft eyes and smiled back at her.

"Queenie, must you be so nauseating?" the sarcastic voice of Shelby snorted from behind my other shoulder. Juliette paid her no mind and rested her delicate hand on my shoulder. I could feel the concern radiating from her already.

"Scott, are you all right?" Jules asked me. I could feel her breath on my neck as she tried not to pry.

"He will be once you stop annoying him." Shelby smirked. She leaned in closer and he could see that her eyes were a bit concerned as well.

"I'm fine, really." I assured the two. I had two beautiful girls leaning against my shoulders, how could I not be?

"Do you want to be left alone, or what?" Shelby asked.

"I'll be out in a moment, I swear." I chuckled.

"We're sorry to intrude, but you've been writing in here for a long time," Juliette said.

"It's okay," I waved off her worried voice. I guess it's my fault she's still a bit on tip-toe around me. I had snapped at her a lot in that first year we met.

"All right, then. We'll see you later then." Shelby said pointedly to Juliette, who looked as if she wanted to hover over me for a few more minutes.

Juliette reluctantly nodded and I felt her hand leave my shoulder. Shelby strode out the door, glancing over her shoulder once to make sure Juliette was doing the same.

"Scott?" I turned around. Juliette was at the door but hadn't left yet. I had to grin at her persistence. "If this ever gets too intense… I mean, I know I wasn't really there for you in the beginning, but I want to be here for you now."

"I know, Jules. Thanks." I nodded at her. She looked at the floor for a moment shyly and I added, "I really scared you, didn't I?"

She looked up quickly, thinking I was teasing her, but my face was serious. She hesitantly nodded. "I didn't know what was going on with you, and when you shut me out so angrily, I was really worried. I should have tried harder, and if you feel like I deserted you, you'd probably be right. But I was too scared to try again, even though I never stopped freaking out about you."

"You've got a good heart, Jules." I smiled gently at her. "I just wasn't ready to tell everyone yet. I'm sorry I made you worry, and you've got to understand, I don't blame you for drifting away. I had pushed you back, and you were just protecting yourself."

"I know I'm too cheerful for you, and you think I can't understand anything, that I'm too bright to be able to handle your darkness, but I went to Horizon, too, didn't I? I had problems there, just as you all did. I just wish you didn't think I was an immature, stupid little girl, and had trusted me, just a bit." She was staring at the floor again. "Because maybe I'd understand if you just gave me a chance. You said you don't judge us anymore, but I know you still think I'm some naïve princess who only thinks of make-up and dating. I just wish you wouldn't write me off. I'm different from Shelby, I know that. And I know that you two have much more in common, that you both understand each other so much. You've got a deep connection, and I know I'm completely different from her. But I could help you too, if you'd let me."

"Jules…" I didn't know what to say. Her speech was just so, so un-Jules like.

"I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. I just wanted to let you know that you hurt me, that's all." She sounded like herself again, like a wounded puppy that I had to take care of.

"I'm sorry if I made you feel that way." I finally said apologetically.

"It's true, though, isn't it?" she met my eyes, her dark ones wide and sad.

Before I could answer, the door opened again, and Shelby reappeared.

"I thought we said we were going to let him have some time, he said he'd be coming out soon." The blonde reprimanded the brunette. She gave Scott a 'what are we going to do with her' eye roll and took Juliette's arm and led her out of the room. I watched the door close behind them and sighed. I loved them both so much, but even though their mutual loathing towards each other had dimmed slightly, their rivalry was still going strong.

I turned my attention back to the paper I had been hunched over and finished it off.

So now you know. I couldn't tell you all this in person, but if you were ever wondering why and where I had just disappeared off to, here's your explanation. You deserve a face-to-face explanation, you deserve better than this. But I can't do that right now. I know you were hurt when I lashed out at you so long ago, when I deserted you. I know you need this closure. But I've changed so much now, and I realize how much I needed to do this. I'm in love again, and I know these words, too, will hurt you. I'll always care about you, but if you've still been holding on, let go. I've still got a long way to go. I've still got to heal, and that's time spent that I don't want you waiting around for. You deserve better than I can offer at the moment. I can understand if you never want to see me again, but know that none of this was your fault. I certainly don't blame you for not noticing. Well, okay, I did once, but I've moved on.

Yours Truly, sincerely, with love... pick your salutation,

-Scott


A/N: Just found HG reruns recently and fell in love with the show. These events take place after the show ended.