Howdy to everyone still reading this even with my lack of updating! This chapter is a tad dark, okay, sort of really dark, and totally out of my norm, so keep that in mind. But, it is an extra long chapter, which hopefully makes up for my pathetic updating skills. Thanks for alerts/comments, they are encouraging and fabulous as always. Thanks for reading, and happy summer! :))) Also, I rushed to put this up, forgive me of my grammatical errors.

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."

Shelby walked out of the infirmary, sore and scratched, but held her head high as she marched towards the classrooms. She was nervous about being back in class, not because she was three days behind or because she looked like something out of a Stephen King novel, but because she would come face to face with Scott for the first time since Saturday morning.

All of the Cliffhangers came by the infirmary to check on her and wish her well, but never once did Scott stop by and she knew exactly why. He must have finished reading all the letters she had given him, and he now knew exactly how damaged and dirty she really was, and always would be. He couldn't even bring himself to look at her, and that thought made her stomach churn. This is why she didn't mail the letters in the first place, she feared Scott would do exactly this; detach himself from her and the situation.

Even with the sickening pain she felt as her thoughts stayed with Scott, she continued her march to the classrooms, putting on a brave face. She was an expert at hiding her pain, and today wouldn't be any different. Daisy would be there, just her presence was supportive enough.

Shelby took a deep breath before entering the classroom, feeling much more like she was going to battle instead of algebra. She mentally chastised herself, feeling utterly stupid for fearing walking into a classroom, when obviously, she had been through much worse. She hated how weak she felt and that had to change.. now.

She entered the classroom, slipping into a seat in the back, hoping to keep her entrance quiet and unnoticed, but of course, Jeff didn't let that happen.

"Shelby!" He said brightly, completely interrupting his rant about linear equations, "It's so great to see you, I didn't know if you would be joining us this morning," he continued, sliding some notes and a math book onto her desk, "but I'm glad you are here. These are notes from the previous two classes, but you're a whiz at math, if you have questions, come find me."

Shelby gave him a tight-lipped smile, she couldn't completely write him off when he seemed so genuinely happy to see her. She chanced a quick look around the room and noticed every one was staring at her, except for one. She saw the back of Scott's blonde head, his eyes glued to the front of the room. Her stomach churned again, and she moved her gaze from Scott to Daisy's piercing stare. Daisy gave her an encouraging smile and turned back around.

Shelby looked down at the papers on her desk, her mind in a different place. Jeff continued on with his lesson, but she wasn't really hearing him. Scott's complete disregard for her was so much harder to handle than she thought. How could he sit there, like she didn't matter, like they didn't matter? Maybe she didn't mean as much to him as he did her? That thought made her even more queasy.

She knew this would happen, heck, she expected it to happen, but there was a tiny bit of her that thought maybe, just maybe, Scott could look past her heinous life and see her, really see her, not just what has happened to her. She did actually have a tiny bit of hope, just a sliver, and now it was gone. Her worst fears confirmed, she had lost Scott, and the tiny ray of light she had held onto.

She didn't think it was possible to hate her abusive stepfather anymore than she already did, but she felt her anger towards him increase drastically. He took everything from her, her innocence, her self-esteem, her courage.. and now, he had taken Scott, something she thought was untouchable. Walt was monster, wanting her and everything about her to himself. Even jail couldn't keep him from her, and she knew, as long as Walt was alive, she would never be free.

As Shelby sat through class, her thoughts strayed from algebra and Scott to a much darker, sinister place. She wanted Walt to be hurting, she wanted him pleading for his life, and ultimately, she wanted him dead. A car crash or heart attack was much too easy of a way for him to go, she wanted him in pain, a slow and painful death, hurting for every minute he made her wish she was dead. A smile crossed her face as she imagined his funeral, only her mother, herself and Jess attending, her mother in tears, Jess' expression blank, and her own face in an accomplished grin.

Walt's death would be her proudest achievement. His pain and tears and screams.. she would cherish them forever.

The images in her mind were so vivid, she completely forgot she sitting in Jeff's algebra class, and in her mind, she was back in her own personal hell, but this time, she was the villain, and she held all the power to hurt the man in front of her.

Walt sat in his wheel chair, to weak to move, and she stood in front of him laughing. A single tear fell down his face as he pleaded with her.

"Please Kitten, I love you, I just want to love you."

This only made Shelby laugh harder as she fingered the blade carefully in her hand. He was scared and she liked it. She approached him slowly, liking the way he watched her movements nervously. He now feared her, and now he knew what it felt like, now he knew all the emotionally pain he caused, and in a few brief moments he would know the physical pain as well.

When she reached Walt, she grinned wickedly at him, gripping the knife tightly in her hand.

"Are you afraid?" She asked him sweetly, cocking her head to the side.

"Kitten, you are scaring me, stop this n-now."

His shaky voice and stuttering words made her sickly happy. He deserved to be afraid. Without a second thought, she plunged the knife into his chest, blood immediately rushing from the puncture, covering his shirt and her hands. Instead of letting go, she pushed the knife further into his chest, twisting it around, causing Walt to wince and groan before his head fell limply to the side.

Walt's chest stopped rising, and at that moment, she knew she had won, she had finally beat her monster.

She stepped away from his body and moved to the opposite end of the room, turning back around to drink in the scene. Walt's body was slumped over in his wheel chair, the knife still sticking out of his chest with blood oozing down to his jeans. The sick joy she had felt moments go vanished, and she realized what she had done. She, Shelby Merrick, had committed murder. She had honest to God killed a man, and she could never take that back.

The smell of coppery iron filled her nose and she thought she was going to be sick. She looked down at her hands that were covered with blood, Walt's blood. The sight of the dark, sticky substance covering her hands made her scream.

It's as if her scream jolted her awake, and she was suddenly back in Jeff's algebra class. Everybody was looking at her, even Scott. She quickly realized her scream wasn't only in her dream, but she had screamed in real life.

Jeff slowly started moving towards her, concern written all over his face.

She stood up quickly, wanting to get out of there immediately. She moved to beeline it for the door, but noticed her hands, were in fact, covered with blood. The sight made her stumble over a chair leg, causing her to trip, but it only hindered her for a moment, as she hurriedly pushed her self up, and broke out into a run out the door.

Shelby never slowed down, not even to see if Jeff was following her, she ran as fast as her legs would move her, heading directly towards the woods.

What was wrong with her? Who, well, what kind of person dreamed things like that, not to mention, liked it?

She remembered the joy she felt when she plunged the knife into Walt's chest, and she abruptly quit running and started vomiting onto the forest floor.

Shelby was slightly bent over, one hand holding her hair, and the other around her stomach as she violently heaved.

She lost all track of time, as her mind replayed her daydream over and over again, making her feel more sick every time.

Once everything was out of her system, even the acid-tasting, yellow bile, she still felt the need to throw up more. She was disgusted with herself. There was something seriously wrong with her. She really was the most emotionally and mentally messed up person in existence.

Shelby sat on the ground, leaning up against a tree for support. She brought her knees to her chest and buried her face in her hands. She had never felt more lost than she did at that moment.

She heard footsteps approach and wished she had run further out. She wanted to be alone, she needed to be alone. No one would understand, how could she explain what a monster she was?


Of course, it was Peter.

"Shelby," he tried again, she could hear the worry in his voice.

Peter squatted down in front of Shelby, so they were eye level with each other. He didn't fully understand what was happening, but he knew the girl in front of him was finally breaking. He was walking across campus when he saw a bloody-handed Shelby taking off for the woods, with a panicked Jeff, Scott and Daisy following. Peter cut them off, telling them to stay where they were and he in turn took off after her.

When he finally reached her, she was sitting against a tree, the crimson color of blood staining her hands and blonde hair. Vomit was pooled around her and she seemed so broken. He knew more than likely Scott and Daisy were somewhere close by, and he didn't want them to see her like this.

"What's wrong, Shelby?" Peter asked gently, patting her softly on her knee.

Shelby looked up at him, tears making a clean path down the bloody hand prints on her cheeks.

"I'm the monster," she whispered, looking afraid and defeated at the same time.

His legs starting to hurt, Peter decided to get comfortable, and moved to sit onto the ground across from Shelby. He didn't want to take advantage of her vulnerable state, and he was concerned about the amount of blood coming from her, but maybe the best way to heal her would be to let her talk and finally get everything she was feeling out in the open.


"I want him dead, I want him hurting and in pain. I want to kill him, I want his blood on my hands." She looked down, and shook her head, the tears still streaming steadily down her face.

"You know what that makes me?" She asked him, looking at him again.

"Human," he said, simply.

She shook her head. "No, that makes me him. It makes me a monster. It makes me more fucked up than I ever imagined I could be."

Peter sighed. "Shelby, you've been through a lot, more than anyone will probably experience in a lifetime. It's natural to have those thoughts after all the pain he put you through, but you didn't. You didn't kill him, you may have wanted to, but that's the difference between you and him. He did the horrible things to make him a monster, you didn't."

"I hate him." She said, venom piercing her words.

"What happened this summer, Shelby?" Peter asked. "Let it out, stop letting all this hatred and pain consume you."

"Talking about it won't change anything!" Shelby shouted, the tears now pouring more hurriedly down her face.

Peter nodded. "No, it won't, but it might change the way you feel, the way you see yourself, but you won't know until you talk about it."

"I just thought, I don't know, it would be different. The three of us, me, Jess and my mom, would just be happy."

Peter remained silent, he knew Shelby need to do this on her terms, he wasn't going to rush her.

"That obviously wasn't the case," Shelby said, wiping her nose with her sleeve. "She missed him, my mom missed Walt. And of course it was my fault! My fault he was away! My fault she was unhappy! My fault we were having money issues! She wasn't just mad at me, she loathed me. My very presence sent her into a rage."

Peter desperately wanted to reach out and hug her, telling her that her mother was insanely wrong and none of it was her fault, but he knew better. Shelby would freeze and he knew she desperately needed to get all of this pain out of her system.

"She let our her rage in a form of violence, but hell, it wasn't anything I couldn't take, but Jess couldn't. She could bear to see me in such a state, so she did what she thought was right, if Walt was free, my mom wouldn't be hitting me. I wish she hadn't, but how can I be mad at her for trying to protect me?"

Shelby shook her head and scoffed at the thought of Jess freeing Walt to help her.

"I got Jess out of there, but I was stuck. My mom no longer hit me, but she began to pretend I didn't exist which was so much worse. If she was hitting me, she at least knew I was there, I was worth her emotions. How messed up is that?" Shelby asked, staring at Peter, wanting an answer. "That makes me freaking certifiable. I wanted her to hit me! I needed to feel something! To feel she at least cared enough to hit me!"

Peter simply nodded, understanding. She thought her thought process was crazy, but for someone enduring emotional and physical abuse, it was normal.

"She pretended I didn't exist, but Walt didn't. He loved me and punished me all the time." She shuddered at the thought, wrapping her hands tightly around her torso. "I much preferred his punishment to his love. I'd rather him smack me around any day compared to.. to.. him loving me."

She let out a heavy sigh and stared down at her shoe laces.

"I couldn't fight back, I couldn't. If I did, they would bring Jess back, and that would be on me. She protected me and I had to protect her. At least one of us would be able to be free, and she still could be saved. I'm too far gone, I know that, but she wasn't, I had to help her."

Peter wanted to scream. He wanted her to know she wasn't too far gone, she was so strong and there was nobody on this planet that could break her down. He hated her mother, how could a parent be so careless? Shelby and Jess both deserved so much better.

"I was in constant pain, every inch of body hurt. There were days I couldn't move, but staying in my bed all day wasn't an option because Walt loved time in my room. He was never careful with me though," Shelby said, casting her eyes anywhere but at Peter. She didn't want to see the disappointment on his face.

"It's like protection never crossed his mind, and sure enough, I became pregnant." More tears fell from Shelby's face as she remembered the day she found out she was pregnant. "I was so confused, I had never hated something and loved something so much. I wanted it out of me, I felt dirty and gross and felt I had a monster growing inside of me, but then again, how can I wish that on a child? An innocent, pure child, who hadn't done anything to anyone! I loved it and hated it at the same time, just another confirmation of how fucked up I really am."

Peter could barely contain himself. He so desperately wanted to shake her and tell her she was wrong, so very wrong, but look how far she had come! She needed to finish.

"I didn't want Walt or my mom to know, I had to protect my baby, monster or not, I had to protect my baby! I couldn't though, I couldn't even protect my innocent child. I was being punished again, for nothing other than simply breathing, and I covered my stomach. I gave it away. Walt knew immediately and used every bit of his strength to make sure I had nothing left protect."

Instead of crying more, Shelby's tears had dried and a hardened expression now filled her face.

"That's how weak I am, I was a mom, I was supposed to protect my child, and I couldn't even do that. They had no choice but to take me to the hospital, I was so weak, and that's when my mom found out. Yet, it was my fault, not the man who raped me. That's the only reason I'm back, you know?" Shelby asked, finally looking at Peter again. "My mom wanted me out of her house so badly, she sent me here. It took me getting pregnant. How sick is it that I'm thankful? Don't you see, Peter? I am a monster, there is something wrong with me, and I can't be fixed. He messed me up so much that I can't ever be normal!"

Peter felt sick. That was Shelby's summer. Physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse, with a pregnancy and miscarriage to top it off.

"Shelby," he said, staring at her eyes, praying to God she would listen to every word. "You are the bravest, and most strong person I've ever met. You've overcome obstacles that most people can't even fathom. I know you're confused and scared and hurting, but that doesn't make you messed up, it makes you normal. If you didn't feel anything, that's when you should be worried. You're not a monster for having bad thoughts about Walt, I promise you that myself, and I'm sure anyone else that cares about you are having the exact same thoughts. You aren't messed up or a monster, you are a survivor and a fighter. It's okay to be confused. It's okay to be angry and sad. You can't be fixed because you don't need to be fixed, Shelby. There is nothing to fix."

Shelby wasn't sure how to respond, but didn't have to because her eyes were suddenly drawn to a small movement a close distance behind Peter.

She saw Daisy and Scott both standing there, and based on the expressions on their faces, she knew they heard everything.

Daisy moved towards Shelby, falling onto the ground beside her, grasping her hand tightly. "I'd hate if you were normal." Daisy said, giving her a small smile.

Peter studied the two girls, so thankful they had such a profound friendship with each other. With Daisy by her side, he noticed Shelby slightly relax and he was thankful for that. She looked exhausted and he knew they needed to get to the infirmary.

Scott slowly made his way over to the threesome and fell onto his knees besides Peter. "You busted open your stitches," he said, taking a look at her cheek. The blood covering her made him scared, but he was thankful to realize it was just from the gash on her cheek.

Shelby gingerly touched her cheek and winced, but never took her eyes off of Scott. He was there, maybe he didn't hate her, maybe Walt hadn't completely won. Maybe there was a sliver of hope left in her.