A/N: Alright, so it wasn't the last because I decided to split that chapter into two chapters.
Please don't kill me! I couldn't realistically just suddenly let everything turn out alright but I promise I'll put it right in the sequel, which I guess I have to post because you'd have every right to kill me if I left the story there. This really is the last chapter, unless I decide to post a little epilogue to sort of introduce the sequel.
There's only one more thing that I meant to say, and I probably should have put it in the first chapter or whatever, but this story was inspired by the song "Superman" by five for fighting. Epic song, you should listen to it but if you do, listen to the boyce avenue cover, in my opinion it's better than the original.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there stoically but all of a sudden it seemed, the courtroom behind him was empty save for the two lawyers and the judge. As the prosecuting lawyer swept past them with a satisfied smirk on his face, Shane turned to his own lawyer.
"I, um, never got your name," he said.
The lawyer looked up from his papers, face still flustered. "It's William," he said, "William Hastings, my parents were history buffs." He laughed a hollow little laugh.
Shane didn't get it, but he laughed as well anyway.
"Thank you," he said as the lawyer picked up his briefcase.
Hastings looked at him as though he was going to say something but then he shut his mouth, shook his head a little and left, the large door that led out of the courtroom echoing behind him.
Staring aimlessly at the swinging door, he saw a figure approach him out of the corner of his eye. It was the judge. "Why don't you come with me, son," he said, "There are still a few technicalities to discuss." Schofield had a vague feeling that the lawyer was meant to stay with him but he allowed the judge to place a comforting hand on his shoulder and steer him towards a small room set off to the side anyway.
When they emerged a short while later from the warm wood-panelled room into the stark and severe courtroom, Shane wondered if his unit was still waiting for him.
No, he corrected himself mentally, Not your unit anymore.
"For what it's worth," the judge said to him, "I'm sorry."
Schofield shook his proffered hand and watched as the judge disappeared out the little door behind the bench that led to his private chambers.
He didn't want to spend another second in this room but he didn't know what might be waiting outside. His unit, his friends and their opinions, but he would have to face them eventually and delaying it would only make it worse.
He pushed open the door a little and peered out, he didn't see anyone there in the corridor so he opened it fully and stepped out. Only to be enveloped from behind by Mother's massive frame. He leant back into the strength of her grip, knowing she would hold him up, allowing one moment of weakness through.
"I sent the others back to the barracks," she said after a moment, "thought you might want to be alone for a bit."
"Do you want to see them now, get it over with?" She asked.
He nodded and moved away from her. They walked back to the barracks mostly in silence. When they reached the hall where most of the other marines in his unit lived, he leant up and pressed a swift kiss to her cheek. He was pleased to see that even if everything else in his life had turned upside down, he could still make her smile.
"Nice try buster," she said, "but you're not distracting me. Now, in you go." She flung open the door and placing one large hand on his back, pushed him into the room.
He tumbled in slightly ungracefully and abruptly everybody stopped talking, as people always do when the person they're talking about enters the room.
He blanched at the sudden onslaught of their eyes, spinning around to get away from them, he ran straight into Mother's outstretched arm.
"Oh no," she said to him, "you're not escaping that easily." She spun him back around and addressed the others, "If anybody here has a problem with the Scarecrow, they can bring it up with me."
Funnily enough, nobody took her up on that offer.
Unsure of what to say, he stood there awkwardly, absentmindedly running a hand through his short hair.
It was Sanchez who broke the uneasy silence. He stood and walked over to Schofield.
Standing directly in front of him, with his hands in his pockets, he said without his usual eloquence, "I – um - I'm really sorry."
Shane nodded his head in thanks and aloud, he said, "Don't worry 'bout it, that's the way it's got to be."
He offered his hand but was surprised when Sanchez not only shook it but also stepped forward, close to him and brought his other arm around to clasp his back in an, albeit brief, hug.
Nobody would call them friends yet, there was still too much bad blood between them to be fixed easily and the gesture was not intended as such. Rather, Sanchez knew that the small contact drew Schofield back into the fold from which he had unwittingly been alienated. They might not have been friends, but Sanchez felt he owed Schofield at least that small kindness.
From behind them, Skip's voice rang out, "Hey Scarecrow, you heard the one about the gay magician?"
He looked at her, her eyes sparkled with mischievousness and he couldn't help but laugh.
"He vanished with a poof," he finished.
"So you're really gay then?" Rebound still sounded a little confused.
Schofield, laughing, replied, "Yeah Rebound, I think I am."
"Wait, do you only think so, or are you like… sure?"
Book placed his hands on Schofield's shoulders as he shook his head in amused exasperation and steered him towards the kitchen. "It's an expression, you idiot. He's pretty damn sure. Lestways, I hope you are," he said, turning to Schofield and grinning before disappearing to get a drink.
The ice in the room thoroughly broken, everybody returned to their easy conversation. Some of them slapped Schofield on the back in commiseration as Book II appeared in front of him, holding a couple of beers. He gladly accepted one as they settled themselves on a couple of barstools next to the kitchen island. Schofield hadn't been inside the barracks before seeing as he didn't live on base. He assumed the room they were currently in was something of a common room. There were a few saggy couches around a television, a battered foosball table in one corner, and a small kitchenette where they currently sat, for the use of people who didn't feel like mess food.
He figured he would be spending a lot more time here in the immediate future. When the judge had taken him aside, he had explained that upon Schofield's discharge, his unit would normally be disbanded. However, as they were the majority of the way through the training programme, this would not be in the best interests of the corp. Instead, Schofield's discharge would be suspended for the remaining two months of their training whilst they searched for someone to replace him as CO. In the meantime, he could live on base, in the barracks. He wasn't sure how he felt about that yet.
"Hardest bits over, now you've just got to face tomorrow and then everyone'll forget all about it," Book II said, looking at Schofield over his own bottle.
"Yeah," he replied, glancing up at Book, "I just hope I haven't fucked my life up too badly."
"You haven't," Mother said with profound simplicity as she sidled up and invited herself into the conversation. "How're you feeling? That ought to tell you how badly you're screwed."
He smiled to himself before answering. "You're right," he said, nodding his head. "Just feels like me."
"Well in that case, you're definitely fucked."
Laughing, they clinked bottles softly under the flickering fluorescent light.
"Yeah," he thought to himself, "Somehow, it's going to be alright."