The rain pounded menacingly against the windshield of the baby blue Mustang. The wipers ferociously wiped at the splatters of rain. Neither Tom nor Judy spoke on account of neither knew what to say. Tom drove the Mustang into the parking garage and searched for a spot. Upon finding one, he pulled into it and put the car in park. After turning the keys out of the ignition, he turned to Judy.
"You okay?" He asked.
"Yeah," she nodded quietly.
Tom knew this might be hard for her. It was only a mere month ago that she had been in the same shoes as Annabelle. He recalled her coming over on account of noises, he recalled her worried look at dinner the next night, he recalled wrapping his arms around her and sharing whispers of what had happened, going to the hospital, finding out that she was safe from diseases, and staying the night parked outside her apartment. It had been as much as a nightmare to him as it was for her.
"Sure?" Tom urged.
"No," Judy looked down at the floorboards. A curl of black hair fell into her eyes and Tom instinctively reached out and slipped it back behind her ear inducing a small from her lips.
"Come on," he jerked his head towards the elevators, "Let's go get this over with."
Tom hated hospitals. Ever since he was a kid, the smell of antiseptic and linoleum polish, the depressing atmosphere, the stench of canned foods, everything had disgusted him. When his grandfather had a stroke, he couldn't go to the hospital and insisted on staying home. Now, as he walked towards the front desk with his arm around Judy, he crinkled his nose.
"May I help you?" Asked the elderly woman at the front desk.
"Yes," Tom tried his best to smile, "We are here to see Annabelle uh…"
"Samuels," Judy finished for Tom.
"Oh dear," the woman's face fell, "It is such a shame what happened to her. She is such a pretty little thing. That hair…it's just such a shame…"
"Can we see her?" Tom asked impatiently.
"Yes. She is in room 211. Her mother was here awhile ago."
"She's no longer here?" Judy asked.
"No. Said something about a date."
Judy frowned at the thought of a mother abandoning her daughter to go on a date. Especially after something so horrific…
"Room 211 you said?" Tom asked.
"Yes. Just take the elevators up and it's right down the hall."
"Thank you," Tom nodded before leading Judy towards the elevators.
"We're just friends," Judy said quietly as Tom pressed the number two.
"What?" Tom asked nervously.
"Us and Annabelle. We aren't cops for this, we are her friends. I don't want to scare her with the whole cop routine. We're just here to check on her and see if she's okay. Ask who did this discretely…that kind of deal."
"Oh," Tom nodded.
The doors swung open and Tom and Judy proceeded down a hallway towards the room marked 211. They opened the door and found Annabelle lying in the hospital bed. She had bruises along her cheeks, neck, and arms. Tom closed his eyes for a moment before being interrupted by Judy rushing over to her side.
"Annabelle!" Judy gasped.
"Judy? Tom? What are you two doing here?"
"We heard what happened," Tom said, "I came over here as soon as I heard and look who I found in the lobby!"
Judy was grateful for Tom's cover-up and mentally made a note to thank him for it later.
"I'm so glad to see you two! No one from school has come. I kind of understand why. Hospitals aren't exactly a theme park," Annabelle smiled. Tom tried his best not to shutter at the mention of theme parks. After being handcuffed to a rollercoaster track, they were no longer his cup of tea per say.
"Well we came," Judy said, putting a hand on Annabelle's, "Annabelle, who did this?"
"I…I don't know," Annabelle said, "I…I had never…never seen him before. I was walking home and he…he came out of no where."
"I am so sorry this happened to you," Judy said.
"Me too," Tom nodded, walking over to Annabelle's bedside.
"I am too," Annabelle sighed, "I…I keep thinking it's like a nightmare I'll wake up from…"
"And you hope you can just close your eyes and when you open them again, this will all be over – just a bad dream. You keep praying that it's somehow a mistake, that somehow this didn't happen but you know it did. You want to cleanse yourself of him, wash every ounce of him from you and then, wash some more."
"Yes," Annabelle's eyes lit up, "Exactly! Judy…how…how did you know…"
"Because," Judy sighed and Tom bit his lower lip so as to resist the urge to put his arm around her, "It happened to me."
"The guy I liked," Judy sighed once again, "He…he invited me over and then…it happened."
"So you trusted him?" Annabelle asked, drawing Tom's attention.
"Yes," Judy nodded, "I did."
"That son of a bitch!" Tom cursed as he pressed the "P" in the elevator.
"Tom?" Judy looked at him questioningly.
"He did it."
"Who?" Judy asked.
"Kramer. He raped her!"
"How do you know?" Judy asked.
"Because she asked you if you trusted the guy that…she asked you if you trusted him! She trusted Kramer! Idolized him! He's a father, a role model, everything these kids long for. He could be helping them! But no, instead of helping them, he's hurting them!"
"Hanson, you got to stay calm right now. We don't have any facts. All you are going by is circumstantial!"
"I know, Judy. I know he did it."
"And if he didn't? Do you want him to go to jail for something he didn't do?" Judy asked, knowing very well she had struck a nerve. Tom turned and looked at her with a hardness in his eyes that she had never seen before.
"No," he said, "No one – no one – deserves to go through that."
Judy looked down at her shoes and tried her best to fight the urge to turn and look up at Tom. She knew she probably shouldn't have said what she did but this whole mess, the rape; everything was just really getting to her. Still, that was no excuse to bring up Tom's prison time. It was a time in his life he didn't discuss with anyone – not even her and they had declared themselves best friends long before that happened. He didn't even confide in Doug! Judy bit her lower lip and mustered up the courage to speak.
"Tom…I didn't mean it like that. I…I shouldn't have said it."
"It's awful you know," Tom began, "It's horrible living in that cell – a cage – like an animal knowing that you had no reason to be in there. Knowing that no one – not even the people you considered your best friends believe you. Knowing that not even your own mother believes you! It can kill a person."
"It can. It can totally break you down and tear you up. All those sleepless nights, the longing to just end it all because surely death – even if painful – can not surpass the pain of being in a cage for something you didn't do."
"Tom," Judy closed her eyes for a moment before finishing, "I believed you."
"I believed you. You know that Doug believed you and eventually Dennis. They compromised so much to get you out but…but I believed you too."
"Yeah. Tom, I know you better than you might think. I know you hate guns, hate violence, hate killings. I know after you've shot someone, it tears you up a little inside. I know it's hard for you so how can you possibly be capable of killing? It just made no sense to me."
"Thanks, Judy," Tom smiled indicating that all was forgiven, "But what are we going to do about our current situation?"
"We'll go to school tomorrow," Judy replied, "And you and I will stick to our story of meeting in the elevator at the hospital. That was good, Tom. Thanks for covering."
"Anyways, we'll say that we met up in the elevator on our way to see Annabelle. After talking with her, you invited me to get a coffee from the lounge with you and over coffee we bonded. Got it?"
"Sure. But where does that leave us at school?"
"We'll be friends. I'll eat lunch with you and Doug and try to manage to survive your animalistic eating habits."
"I don't like lunch trays!" Tom said defensively causing Judy to look at him as if he had sprouted a second head. What the hell is he talking about?
"Okay," Judy rolled her eyes, "Moving on. We'll be friends – you, me, and Doug."
"Seems a little odd you'd be friends with the McQuaids."
"I'll do you one better," Judy grinned, "We did our coffee thing and then because I had a fight with my dad who is way to overprotective, you comforted me and I came up with the brilliant idea to spite him by going out with one of the infamous McQuaid brothers."
"So we'd be…going out?" Tom asked, his eyes nearly bulging from his head as the elevator door swung open.
"You don't have a problem with that, do you honey?"
"Great," Judy grinned.
"A goodie-good like yourself would never in a thousand years date a McQuaid. You have to play the part as well."
"What?" Judy cried.
"Yup. If you want this to work – the whole rebellion thing – you're going to have to become more…McQuaid. Got it?"
"Sure thing," Judy smirked, "Flame."
Flame? Tom couldn't believe she had just called him Flame. She was more McQuaid than he thought.
"Right behind you, Princess."
A/N: I'm sorry this chapter sucked so badly but I was in a hurry as I was writing it. I know the petnames are kind of stupid but I was trying to come up with ones that McQuaids would use. And yes, I am using McQuaid as an adjective. "That's so McQuaid!" Anyways, sorry it sucked I've just been stressed and knew I probably should update this and was in a hurry to get it up for you before going off to my summer job so I do apologize!