A/N: Hey guys! It's so weird for me to think Never Alone is done, because I had been working on it for more than a year, but with this last piece to add, I'm happy to say that I can finally close this chapter.
By a popular request, I decided to do a bonus chapter in Derek's POV for Chapter 19: Truth. The majority of you probably don't remember what it had been about, but that's okay, you'll be reminded of what happened here.
Disclaimer: I don't own Darkest Powers
Bonus Chapter: My Promise
I sighed as I unlocked the door to my room, exhausted from today's basketball practice.
Tomorrow was the first game of the season and Coach Turner wanted to make sure that everything went perfectly, so he had insisted on a last minute practice session. We had gone through the usual drills and after getting most of them down, the coach was finally satisfied and dismissed us to get some rest.
"I'm back," I murmured as I closed the door behind me.
As I slipped inside, I took a quick glance around and was surprised to see that it was empty. Huh. Weird. I thought. Normally by now, Chloe would have been back, unless she had plans with her friends. But I had seen Tori and Liz on the way back and Chloe wasn't with them.
I dropped my sports bag at the end of the bed with a soft thump as it landed on the floor. Then I surveyed the room again, noting Chloe's absence. Although it was stupid to think that she had nothing else better to do than to hang out in our room, I had grown accustomed to seeing her whenever I got back from a long day. So I guess it was a little disconcerting to find the room empty. I paused in my thoughts.
Damn, how long has it been since this aspect of me changed? I used to like the peace and quiet. I mean, I guess I still do, but I had never noticed how lonely it was until recently. Whenever Chloe was around, she had this bizarre ability to light up the room with her presence. As stupid as it sounds, she was just so full of life that with every smile, it chased away my exhaustion. In other words, I like her company.
Stretched out on the bed, I thought back to the beginning and smiled at how everything had seemed so different then.
When I was notified in the middle of September that I was going to have a roommate, I was less than enthusiastic. Add in the factor that the new kid was female didn't make it any better. Not only did I have to share my room with someone else, but I was stuck with a presumably silly, giggling airhead until the beginning of the next term at the very least. You can say that it's unfair to make assumptions about someone I haven't even met, but I have seen (and heard) enough to doubt the intelligence of the other half of the homo sapiens species. So what do I think about living with a girl? Fantastic. Just bloody fantastic.
Simon had joked that I'll finally have some inevitable interaction with the opposite gender, but obviously, we didn't have the same opinion. He likes girls a lot. And they like him back. With his easy-going and charismatic personality, he has always been in the centre of the social circle.
As for me, I'm known as Simon's jerk brother and once in a while, for those who actually notice, I'm also thought of as one of our school's key basketball players. But apparently, "Derek the Jerk" sounds better than "Derek the Basketball Star", so most people think of the former when it comes to me. It bugs Simon when I get treated as though I had the plague, but I really don't care. It's better than having to constantly be in everyone's good books. Not to mention quieter. Dad used to worry about my lack of a social life, but after I reassured him that I was happier this way, he backed off.
And it was true.
That is, until Chloe moved in and screwed everything up.
With our first encounter, I had dismissed her immediately as unexceptional. She was a tiny strawberry blonde with big expressive blue eyes and had an uncertain look on her face. I was still pissed at having to room with someone other than my brother and so, I was determined to retain my asshole status around her, in hopes that she'd leave me alone.
At first, Chloe tried to offer me her friendship, but I wasn't interested and her enthusiasm dimmed shortly after. I'd avoid her with every excuse I got. Between my training and my job, it was easy to stay away. But unfortunately, my plan backfired; my disappearances only piqued her curiosity.
And needless to say, Chloe followed me during one of my early training sessions.
When I chewed her out for stalking me, she had apologized. But what caught me off guard was that she didn't think the worst of me, like the rest of the school did. Even though I had been an ass to her, Chloe refused to believe the rumours that I was a shady character that was affiliated with gangs and drug dealing.
Maybe it was because she was the first person who said that to my face, but I forgave her and in a rare turn of events, had also allowed her to watch my training session. And surprisingly enough, she had taken my offer.
From there, I started to realize that Chloe wasn't who I had thought she was and over time, we became friends.
Sure, there were some bumps along the way, but we got through them. Well, most of them. My smile faded as I thought about the last one remaining.
It was Nate.
Otherwise known as Chloe's boyfriend and captain of the boys' basketball team.
I gritted my teeth at the thought of him. Like Simon, Nate was high up on the social ladder. Add the fact that he was both captain and in the student council made him an important person in our school. At first, he seemed like an okay guy too.
As the head of the team, Nate was a decent player who cared about winning as much as I did. Whenever the team didn't get along, he would get everyone to shape up and pull us through game after game. He didn't judge me like the other players. Instead, Nate saw my ability to play and made an effort to pass to me even if no one else did. He treated me like a teammate. And that made me learn to respect him.
However, everything changed during that one match last year. We were in the playoffs for the district and our team was two points behind. Time was running out and Nate had the ball. When our opponents caught up to him, Nate was forced to shoot and the ball bounced off the backboard. Luckily, Simon had been close, because he caught it before anyone else could and threw it to me.
Hell, I knew that there were only a few seconds left, so I didn't think about whether or not I could do it. I shot from outside the three point line and amazingly enough, it went in, resulting in a buzzer beater. We had barely won.
What happened after was a blur because it turned out that there was a college agent in the audience who was so impressed with my game that I got a full scholarship. Every one of my teammates congratulated me on my win and Nate did as well, but underneath his forced grin, I saw his resentment towards me. He wanted to have been the one who scored.
While I understood that he wanted to have been the one who pulled his team out of a tight spot, I didn't get why he was so upset over his loss. It was just bad luck that he missed. Heck, I've hated myself for the ones where I screwed up, but I got over them with each basket. But Nate didn't, no matter how many times he scored.
I tried talking to him about it, but he rebutted me each time and eventually, I just stopped trying. And from there, whatever relationship we had as friends was gone. Nate stopped going out of his way to be more than a teammate. I even heard that he had tried to get the coach to take me off the team. He knew how much I loved basketball because he felt the same way. Nate was one of the few who worked as hard as I did to get to where we are. So, even if the coach had refused his proposal, I never forgave Nate for trying.
Whatever hole Nate had left with his betrayal felt painful at first, but over time, that part of me mended itself together again. And I berated myself for being a fool to take a chance at friendship.
But Chloe changed my mentality when she moved in.
Somehow, in that tiny body of hers, she was like a blazing fire. Although she wasn't always sure of herself, Chloe stood up for everything she believed in. She didn't cave in when she was being bullied by most of the female population at school. Instead, Chloe fought back, her determination unwavering.
And above all, she taught me what it meant to have friends. Chloe shattered my barriers and dragged me every step of the way, never relenting. In some way, she had seen through my loneliness, the one that had stayed with me ever since my mother's death, even if I was unaware of it. Chloe made me realize what I had been missing.
I wouldn't say that I completely changed; I still like the peace and quiet. But having other people around isn't as bad as I had always thought. Sure, we bicker sometimes, but that's part of the fun of it. And I owed it to Chloe for showing me that it was worth it to have friends.
Which is why I didn't think Nate deserved her. Chloe deserves someone who is loyal, trustworthy and honest among other things. Someone like- I stopped.
Those were dangerous thoughts. And finishing them meant that I felt like there was a possibility that maybe, just maybe, Chloe could like me more than a friend. But there was no way that that could happen. After all, I was just me.
I sighed as I sat up, raking a hand through my dishevelled hair. Anyway, there was no point in thinking hypothetically because that meant that I was wrong. And all that did was make me an idiot for getting my hopes up.
No, I thought, standing up. It'd be better for her if I was just a friend.
With that thought, I closed the door to both my room and my feelings.
Dinnertime came. Again, there was no sign of Chloe. By then, I was starting to worry about her absence. It wasn't like her to be out so long without saying anything. My face must have been apprehensive because Liz explained that Chloe was staying after school to make cookies for Nate.
I blinked. Oh. Right. Nate. I tried to keep my face neutral, but some of my emotions must have slipped through because Liz gave me a sympathetic smile. Even though Liz wasn't as bright as Tori was, she figured out that I had feelings for Chloe. And that they were unrequited.
That last part stung the most.
"She'll be back soon, Derek," said Liz.
I attempted to return her smile, but it ended more like a grimace. Feeling the awkward tension, Tori changed the subject and everything went back to normal. Except that I didn't feel as hungry as I had felt earlier. Every now and then, Simon would give me a concerned look, but I shook my head. He didn't need to worry about me; I was fine. After all, it wasn't anything new that Chloe had chosen Nate over me.
The rest of dinner passed by. Finally, it was time to start the movie. Each dorm presented a different movie and you were allowed to go to whichever one you wanted. I didn't care about what we saw, but I knew Chloe did. She had been excited upon hearing that Zombieland was playing this week in our dorm. And so, that's what I decided on seeing as well.
Only that she was absent. Which was strange, given how much she loved movies.
Soon enough, the opening scene came on and the sounds of popcorn crunching filled the darkened room. When I glanced around, everyone else was staring intently at the screen as the guy starts to explain how he lasted so long in a zombie shit-world. No one else seemed to think that it was weird that Chloe wasn't here. It wasn't as though she could get up the staircase without passing the entertainment area and slip into our room unnoticed.
Was I making a big deal out of nothing? Probably. But hell, a quick text asking on her whereabouts couldn't hurt.
Even though I wasn't much of a baker, there was no way cookies and clean up took two hours. Maybe Chloe and Nate decided to spend some time alone together rather than come and hang out with everyone else. I thought as my black mood dropped even further. But even then, Chloe would have said something to me so that I wouldn't be freaking out like I was now.
For the next ten minutes, I got absolutely nothing from the movie. I was too busy fidgeting and tapping my knees to pay attention. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer; Chloe didn't reply to my text. I stood up, catching half the room's attention. "What's up, bro?" Simon whispered as he dragged his eyes from the screen.
"Going to look for Chloe," I murmured in reply. "Then tell her off."
Simon's brows furrowed in concern as he started to rise as well. "I'll help," he offered but I shook my head.
There was no point in two of us missing the movie. I shook my head. "I got it. Enjoy the movie," I muttered as I grabbed my jacket and slipped out of the room.
With the thirty or so steps it took for me to get to the front door, I cursed my roommate for a hundred kinds of stupid. She was smart enough to know that she should have told someone on her whereabouts. Like Liz, Tori or Simon. Or even better, me. But she didn't. And here I was, flipping out worrying about what could have happened to her.
Sure, Lyle Academy was kind of in the middle of nowhere and on a mountain, but it didn't mean that nothing bad ever happened. Not to mention her knack of getting herself into bad situations. Like declaring war with Melinda Fawkes or butting heads with a potential rapist. No matter how many times I told her to be careful, I was still worried.
I yanked the door open with more force than necessary and was greeted with the sizzling of heavy rain pounding on the cement. As I stepped out, I saw a familiar silhouette coming up the stairs. It was Chloe.
The sight of her safe made the relief come crashing down in me. I had been freaking out for nothing. Even though I was happy to see her, I still felt the uncontrollable urge to give her shit. "Where the hell were you? And why didn't you reply to my text?" I snapped as I looked down on her.
When she flinched at the sound of my tone, I felt bad. Yeah, Chloe had messed up, but she didn't need me to make it worse. She turned her face to the side, unable to meet my eyes. "Sorry, I don't feel like watching a movie," she mumbled as she continued to advance up the stairs.
My brows furrowed at the sound of her voice. It seemed deflated, as though she had no energy to reply back. It was so uncharacteristic of her that my heart thudded anxiously.
Something had gone wrong.
"Chloe? Are you okay?" I asked as I took a few paces forward.
As soon as she stepped into the light, I took in the sight of her and stopped short. She was completely soaked from head to toe. Her hair was matted against her face, hiding her features from me. How long had she been in the rain? "You're completely drenched. What happened?" I questioned softly, my earlier anger was now forgotten.
Chloe didn't reply as she tried to brush past me into the building. I sidestepped and blocked her path. She wasn't going anywhere until I got an answer. "Chloe..." I prompted.
Again, there was no reply. There was a part of me that wanted to just let her go, but I couldn't. Why wouldn't she face me? I needed to know what had happened to her. When Chloe tried to pass me again, I reached out and grabbed her arm, noting how small and frail she felt. "Look at me," I demanded as I pulled her towards me.
She let out a small gasp of surprise as her eyes shot up to meet mine. I took a good look at her red puffy eyes and knew that she had been crying. Her cheeks were flushed from her tears and she looked absolutely miserable. I let out a whispered oath as her face looked as though it was about to crumble. "You've been crying," I said softly, as I released her arm.
As I looked at my roommate's damaged expression and felt the anger flare up in me. Who did this to her? Who wounded her so badly that she looked like her heart was broken? A low growl burned in my throat as I came to an answer. "It's Nate, isn't it?" I demanded, barely concealing my rage.
I knew I was spot on because at the bare mention of his name, Chloe stiffened as her eyes filled with tears. I clenched my fists so hard that I felt my nails dig into the flesh of my palm. I never liked the idea of Chloe going out with that asshole, but it was what she wanted. I ignored all the warning signs because I thought it would be okay. That he genuinely liked her. But he did something so bad that it damaged her to the point that she was crying. It doesn't matter what it was, only that Chloe got hurt in the process.
And that was unforgivable.
"I'm going to kill him," I swore, my tone dangerously low.
I was angry at Nate, but I was also furious with myself. I told myself over and over that Nate wouldn't hurt her. He wouldn't dare. But I was wrong. And now Chloe was suffering.
A sniffle broke my thoughts as I returned to reality. I looked at all five feet of Chloe, who somehow seemed even smaller than usual. Her usual brilliant blue eyes looked dim as she shivered subconsciously under the rain.
That got my attention. There would be time for my anger later. But for now, I had to get her out of the frigid temperature. "C'mon, let's go inside before you get sick," I murmured as I took her arm gently.
As we stepped inside the dorm, Chloe trudged lifelessly along beside me, leaving in our wake small puddles. When we approached the entertainment area, where the staircase was located, Chloe froze. I glanced back to see what was the matter when I looked at her again and realized that she didn't want everyone to see her in this state.
Without a word, I unzipped my jacket and draped it over her shoulders. Then I pulled the hood up so that it would hide some of her pale face before bringing her into the main area.
When we stepped into the darkened room, several heads turned our way. At the sight of us, Liz leaped to her feet, her face scrunched in concern. I shook my head at her as she was obviously about to ask Chloe on what happened. Chloe didn't need a whole audience. She was cold, wet and probably hungry. First though, she needed a hot shower.
My jaw set as I exchanged a look with Liz. I knew that she was worried but I wasn't going to let anything happen to Chloe. Once she was satisfied that I would look after her friend, she gave me a single nod and we continued our way up to our room.
Once in the safety of our shared room, Chloe lowered her hood, dripping slightly on the floor. I looked at her and felt the sadness radiating off her. Never before had I wanted to injure Nate as much as I wanted to at this moment. And I didn't even know what he did. But that would have to wait. I brushed my bangs back and released a frustrated breath. "Go wash up and then we'll talk," I said. "Okay?"
Chloe gave a small nod. "Alright."
Even her voice seemed dejected. I watched her as she grabbed her pyjamas and headed into the bathroom. Once the door was closed with a quiet click, I glanced at the small puddles on the floor and went to work. Then I figured that Chloe was probably hungry, considering she had missed dinner, so I slipped out of the room and hurried downstairs.
There was a small convenience food stall located in the lobby, so I went over to see what they had. Since it was late into the evening, they were about to close for the night, but I had made it in time. I checked out the remaining options for food which included sandwiches and fruit, but decided on getting a bowl of hot soup instead. I wasn't quite sure what Chloe liked, but the chicken noodle looked more appetizing than the cream of mushroom, so I quickly filled a bowl and paid for it before returning to my room.
About five minutes later, Chloe emerged from the bathroom, looking better than earlier. Her cheeks were rosy from the heat and some of the glow had returned to her eyes. They were still slightly puffy, but it was less noticeable now. "Hey," I said, feeling a little uncertain as I nodded at the steaming bowl on her table. "I got you some soup, in case you were hungry."
Chloe inhaled the savoury smell and a small smile appeared on her face. It was hardly the grin that I was accustomed to, but at that moment, that one little smile had all the power in the world. She sat on her bed and turned to face me. "Thank you, Derek," she said softly.
She glanced down at her bowl and she stirred the ingredients around and around. "I hung your jacket in the bathroom to dry," she told me.
I waved my hand dismissively at her words. I didn't care less about the state of my jacket. What I cared about was what had gone wrong with Nate. It may seem like it is none of my business, but I needed to know. After all, it was my poor judgement that had landed Chloe in this situation. "What happened?" I questioned, pleading for her to tell me the truth.
She looked up at me, her blue irises swimming with pain and grief. They contrasted greatly with her usual cheerful and energetic nature. Seeing her like this hurt me.
I never would have thought that I would have someone other than my family whom I cared so deeply for. Whenever she smiled, I couldn't help but to smile with her. Whenever she was angry, I wanted to hunt down her enemies and make them pay. Now, seeing her raw pain, I wanted to take it away so that she wouldn't have to suffer. What hurt me now was that I couldn't take it all away.
But I could ease some of the burden she had to carry.
Chloe took a shuddering breath and launched her story of Nate's betrayal.
Angry and wounded by his father's dismissal, Nate had hated me ever since the game last year. He wanted me to feel the pain that he had experienced from the rejection and for that reason, Nate had used Chloe as an instrument of revenge. He knew that Chloe was important to me and that if he hurt her, I would be affected in the process. I squeezed my eyes shut as I felt myself shake with barely contained fury.
Damn it. This shouldn't have happened. Not to her. Chloe had done nothing wrong. And yet, Nate had played with her feelings and used her like she was an insignificant object. Only a tool in his revenge.
I didn't care what he did to me, but Nate had gone too far with using other people. People that I care about. And he made them suffer.
I will make him pay.
With this resolution, I clenched my teeth as I opened my eyes to see Chloe's anxious expression. Even when her heart was broken, I could see that she was worried about how I took these news. Because that was just the way she is. Always caring for about other people. It was unbelievable that Nate had used her feelings for him and distorted them into something as malevolent as vengeance. "That bastard," I whispered, trying to keep my anger at bay. "He should have kept you out of it. It was between us. You had nothing to do with it."
Chloe remained silent as she stared sadly into her bowl of untouched soup. I watched as memories flickered across face, her expression crumbling as she lived through them again. "Everything was a lie," she whispered, her voice almost inaudible.
Even though Nate was to blame for all of this, I wasn't completely innocent of the crime either. If I had missed that basket, then none of this would have happened. The three of us could have been good friends. I clenched my fists, watching my knuckles turn white. "I'm so sorry. You were dragged into this because of me," I said, gritting my teeth against the pain as my nails dug into my palms.
Chloe shook her head. "No, Derek. It's my fault; I was too stupid to see it. I was just too eager to believe." That he liked me for being me. She didn't say it, but we both heard it.
A tear slipped down her cheek and she hastily raised her hand to wipe it away. My heart ached for her as more and more tears escaped. I rose from my chair and took my place next to her on the bed, the springs groaning in complaint. Chloe averted her eyes as she hid her face behind her forearms, her shoulders trembling with grief.
A spark of anger flitted through me as I watched her spill her emotions for me to see. It made me hate Nate all the more. He took away Chloe's fighting spirit and left her with nothing but pain. She honestly believed that she had brought this upon herself. That it was wrong to love someone. But she should know better than anyone that love was one of the purest forms of emotion out there. After all, she was the one who had taught me that.
Gently, I placed my fingers under her chin and turned her to look at me. She looked at me through grief stricken eyes and I cursed the one responsible for her pain. "It's not your fault either; it's Nate's. He wasn't worth your goodness and he sure as hell doesn't deserve you now. So just let him go," I murmured quietly, pleading silently for her to listen. "You'll find someone much better than he is and you'll be happy."
She blinked as her tears slowed enough for her to stare at me with her sky blue eyes. "Because you think that I'm worth it?" she questioned with a hiccup.
I smiled at her. Was there ever any doubt? If so, I hoped that I could clear her disbelief. "I absolutely think you're worth it."
At my words, a final tear slid down her face as she wrapped her arms around my waist, burying her face against me.
We stayed like that for a little while with neither of us saying a word. I wanted her to know that I was here, and that I would always stand by her side. No matter what.
When I heard the easy rhythmic pattern of her breathing, I knew that Chloe had fallen asleep. She had cried to the point that she exhausted herself to oblivion. Today had been a rough day for her. Not physically, but emotionally. She had been betrayed and lied to by someone she had loved.
And that was going to leave an unseen wound. But it will heal; it just took time.
I know it hurts now.
But you'll be okay... Everything will be all right.
A/N: And voila, the final addition to Never Alone. This story is officially done and no further details will be added. I really enjoyed writing this last piece because for me, chapter 19 was really significant. It was first major idea I had for this story and I think it's almost incredible for me to be able to get to it without any major changes. So I hoped you enjoyed it too.
Finals are in a week and you won't be hearing from me until May, but when I post my next fanfic, Amnesia, I hope you'll look forward to it.
As always, I love you all! Until then,
(Project duration: September 17, 2011 - April 8, 2013... Project status: Complete!)