Author Notes: Thank you for the wonderful reviews, I really love reading them and it's nice to know when people are enjoying reading, or even if they're not, lol.
WARNING: This chapter may upset some people, so be warned.
Disclaimer: I own Skins...if you believe that, you'll believe that I invented chocolate and own six aeroplanes. (I of course do not own Skins, boo hoo hoo.)
Placing a shot on the table Emily dropped into the seat beside her sister. She looked around at the group, thankful they'd accepted her back so easily after Freddie's inability to hate her. But Katie was still catching up. She scowled at Emily and pushed the shot towards her.
"I don't want your guilty drink,"
"Guilty drink?" Emily laughed, "It's a shot, just fucking drink it."
But Katie was stubborn and she wasn't easily won over. So Emily took the shot and downed it in one go, hoping the burning liquid would help her to block out her sister's behaviour. She knew she'd come around eventually but she was sick of waiting.
"I thought this was supposed to be a party, why do you all look so miserable?" Freddie asked, standing at the end of the table.
The group stood up, greeting him with hugs and well wishes. It was great to see him somewhere other than the hospital and it was a relief to Emily that he was near enough fully recovered. He might have been unable to blame her, but she still felt somewhat guilty for what she did.
"Hey Effy," Naomi muttered, catching Emily's attention as she saw the brunette standing behind Freddie, her eyes deeper than she'd ever seen them.
Nobody had seen Effy since she'd returned home with Cook, there were rumours that she'd been ill; depressed, but Freddie had quickly quashed them. She had merely decided that she "wanted a break" from everyone and everything after what happened. It was understandable really. Cook's actions had affected everybody in one way or another, particularly Freddie and Effy. The group sat around the table drinking heavily, playing games to pass the time as the one thing that was on everyone's mind was pushed to the edges of their lives. They weren't going to let Cook get in the way of their happiness anymore. But when silence spread amongst them, JJ filled it in the only way he knew how; by putting his foot in his mouth.
"I wonder how long Cook will go to prison for,"
The silence returned, forcing tension between them as they were dropped on the other side of a void that had no bridge for return. No one wanted to speak, no one wanted to admit that they had thought about Cook's sentencing. It had shocked them all that he had admitted his guilt and was going straight to sentencing. But no one would talk about it. After a few minutes Freddie cracked a joke, taking the tension out of the night as the group disbanded towards the bar, toilets and dance floor. Cook was still on all of their minds, his actions something they would never forget. But as they danced and drank the night away, each and every one of them made a promise to themselves that after the sentencing, they would move on with their lives and forget that James Cook was ever part of them.
Cook lay on the lumpy mattress of his prison cell bed. The room was silent, as silent as prisons were anyway. He listened to the noises around him, focusing on each sound as it passed through his ears. He used to hate silence, but after forty-eight hours of constant noises, he wished for five minutes of peace. But the noises were better than the thoughts that constantly travelled around his mind; regretful images of what he had done, friendships he'd destroyed, people's lives he'd turned upside down. His hands reached up around the sides of his face as he closed his eyes, squinting them together to block out the thoughts that were fighting their way through the noises around him.
"What's your problem?" his cellmate asked, tapping his foot as he brushed his teeth.
"Nuffin'" Cook replied, his breathing growing heavy as covered his ears, trying to block out everything.
He couldn't handle prison life, he couldn't handle having someone else constantly in his face, or people telling him what he could or couldn't do. He was a rebel by trade; he liked to smoke and drink and have sex. There was no sex in prison; not the kind he liked anyway. He was fresh meat, the new guy that veterans seemed to pounce on. He'd kept himself to himself as much as possible, barely leaving his bed, except when forced. But he couldn't keep that up for three years.
"I'm sorry, I had to,"
Effy's words danced into his mind, parading themselves around like a carrot on a stick, taunting him until he wanted to scream and shout. But he never did. Every sound he made was inward, his chest expanding with every scream that ran through his body, tightening the muscles in his chest, stopping his normal breathing. He was in hell. He was living in hell with no way out. He'd admitted his guilt, he'd opened the stable door without realising the horse would leave. This was his life now. Surrounded by men, trapped in a building twenty-four seven. He'd heard the other prisoners talk about visiting day; an event that everyone seemed to look forward to. But Cook knew that nobody would visit him. His mum and dad were both gone, Effy didn't want him and his friends probably hated him after what he'd done. He used to be a loner; embracing his life alone, without family, with no one to care about him unconditionally. Now he craved the love of his friends, he'd taken it all for granted and he'd shit it all away.
"I can't fucking do this," he muttered, provoking a strange glance from his cellmate. But he didn't say anything to him, he didn't ask if he was okay, he didn't care whether he was or not. This was his life; lonely, uncontrollable.
The cellmate left, disappearing off to his job of the day. Cook knew he should probably make an effort, attempt to leave his bed for once. But what did it matter anyway? Nobody would notice if he was out there, nobody would notice if he wasn't. Nobody cared either way. He stared at the ceiling, watching a spider crawl along the heating pipes that travelled along the centre of the room. Control was a funny thing. His life had spiralled out of it, taking away his power of almost every single thing. Except one. He climbed out of his bed and stripped it, throwing his pillow and blanket across the room hastily. Decisions had to be made quickly. He didn't know if it was because he was scared that someone would catch him, that someone would stop him. Or whether he was scared he'd back out. There was no other choice. He could rot in jail, spending his life with a bunch of killers and thieves, or he could change everything.
The small chair beneath his feet wobbled as he stood upright. His mind was racing with anticipation, with fear, with dread, with regret, with guilt. But most importantly, with hope. He hoped that everything would be okay. He hoped for something on the other side. He hoped for forgiveness from the people he'd loved the most. Every single person he knew had left him; his mum, his dad and now his friends were no longer part of his life. But he wondered if they would miss him, if they would grieve for the friend they had once had, for the times they had shared, for the happy months they had all spent together. For a moment he thought about changing his mind, turning back and adapting to his new life. But before he could think about it further he slipped the bed sheet around his neck and kicked the chair from under his feet as he took his final breath.
AN: Thanks for reading this story, it has been a bit of a challenge for me and it was always a bit of a risky story in terms of where it started and now where it's ended. I hope you enjoyed the story, despite the unhappy ending. Thanks again for reading and reviewing this story and I would really like to know your thoughts on how this ended up. Also...I'm sorry!