A/N: This has been in my head for a while now. Random, I know. But I was (still am) somewhat obsessed with the remake. So read on! And drop a review if you feel like it. But if you don't, it's okay :)
"Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?"
Holding out for a Hero – Ella Mae Bowen
Ariel Moore didn't always use to be a rebellious country girl.
She could remember a time when she was young and innocent and her older brother Bobby would tell her that she was always going to be his little sister, so she better not ever lose that southern charm. She'd smile at him and bat her eyelashes and tell him to stop flattering her. Her mother spoke and joked and smiled like she had the whole world figured out. And her father? Well, believe it or not, he was and even acted like a father. A real one. He used what happened in life and with his family to influence his sermons, not the other way around. They had been a family. An actual family. And to put it simply, Ariel was happy.
But then Bobby died.
And her family tore itself apart from within.
Grief, they say, happens in stages. Ariel doesn't know who 'they' are, but she figures they know a thing or two about life and death. Because it starts with her father. The smile is replaced with a constant clenched jaw. His eyes, almost as blue as hers, which always held happiness and faith, are shrouded and consumed by unspoken anger. His temper is short as a fuse. Ariel heard him one night in his study crying and cursing God. "How could you take him?" her father had said through choked, quiet, sobs. Ariel thought that was a damn good question. The anger has taken him over, and now it's hard for her to remember him without the scowl.
Then her mother shuts down. Denial and Anger and Bargaining and Depression hit her like a tidal wave, and it is too much. She barley ever leaves the house except for church. She never plays Bunko with the mothers of Bomont on Saturdays anymore. She stops meeting and greeting new people. She just stops…everything.
Ariel understands what her mother is doing better than anyone. Rusty's mother told her once that she couldn't even fathom what the loss of a child would do to you, and to just be patient, because Vi Moore was just finding her own way to cope with the loss. But Ariel understands completely. Her mother is severing all ties. Cutting her losses and fortifying her heart. Because if Vi Moore only has herself, then the good lord cannot take anything else away from her.
But Ariel is still here. She hadn't died that night on that bridge. But her parents are sure treating her that way. She wants to scream at them. Wants to yell, "Momma, I'm right here! Daddy, your little girl isn't gone!" But she doesn't think it will do any good. Her parents are grieving in their own ways, who is she to take that away from them?
And then the moment comes when her father starts to blame Bobby. He turns against Bobby. He turns against his son. The son that tried so hard—every single damn day—to impress him. So the betrayal of her father is the last straw. She will protect her brother's name even if it means destroying her own. Because the Crosby Bridge accident wasn't Bobby's fault. Not being able to dance in Bomont isn't his fault. The curfew isn't his fault. No matter how often her father blames Bobby for everything that has happened, Ariel will not believe it.
So that's where Chuck Cranston and her rebellious attitude comes in. If her father and mother are too busy worrying about her, then they will forget about her brother and stop blaming him. So she starts dating Chuck. Does things she isn't proud of and is the instigation of many of Rusty's mild heart attacks. Sometimes she swears she can hear her brother yelling at her to stop. That this isn't her. That she doesn't have to lose herself because of him. But she perseveres because it is her heart telling her what she wants to hear, and it isn't the truth.
And then Ren McCormick moves to town and her plans of self destruction are thrown out the window. Because no matter what her father says, Ren is a good guy. A guy her brother would have liked. A guy who worries about her. A guy who wants to protect her. Someone she can be normal and have fun with. Something she's almost forgotten how to do.
And that is why she finds herself sitting in Chuck's truck at the racetrack, caught in the most hostile of awkward silences.
She hopes he doesn't notice it, but she's pressing herself against the door in an attempt to get distance between them. "Are you going to say anything?" she asks plainly.
He doesn't even look at her. "I don't need to say anything. I got eyes and ears." He locks his jaw and fixes her with a good, hard, stare.
She blinks and lifts her chin slightly. "Well, I just thought you should hear it from me."
He lets out a laugh. And she shifts uncomfortably because it's so void of emotion it makes him seem dead inside. He fixes her with a greasy grin, teeth showing like a wild animal. "I mean, you crack me up. First you're into racecar drivers. Now you're into dancing gymnasts." He shakes his head with another heartless laugh and fixes her with a dead stare. "I've seen the way you look at him. Waiting for that perfect moment to dumb down and wrap those legs around—"
When he reaches out to grab one of her thighs she slaps his hand away furiously. She lets a moment pass, mostly because her heart is slamming against her chest in rage, and then spits out, "I'm sick and tired of you treating me like dirt!" She gets out of the car in a rush of furious eyes and beating hearts and makes sure to slam the truck door for good measure and storms away, wind blowing at her unbuttoned flannel.
"Oh, is that how I treated you?" Chucks voice is suddenly behind her and it takes every ounce of control in her body not to jump. "Come here!" His hand is suddenly around her writs. She tries to ripe her arm away but his grip is firm and she thinks if he grabs it any tighter he'll break her wrist. There is a voice in the back of her head telling her she should have thought this through. Things with Chuck always seem to get out of hand. Fast.
And no surprise to Ariel, this time is no different.
"Look," Chuck snarls. She's spun around against her will so fast that she actually gets dizzy for a moment. But then Chuck's hands are tight around her upper arms and his breath is hot against her face. "Just 'cause you're a preachers daughter doesn't give you a free pass at acting like a slut."
Somewhere between yelling "get off!" and "let me go!" her mind registers what he's just said to her. And there is sudden blind fury building inside her chest. Now, she's never hit anyone in her life before, but she figures there's a first time for everything.
And this is a damn good time.
So Ariel Moore clenches her right hand into a fist and punches Chuck Cranston square in the face. Her hand is suddenly on fire and she can feel each of Chuck's teeth rake across her knuckles. Chuck reels from the blow, but something tells her he's been in a couple brawls in his lifetime. Because her moment of victory is short lasted. His hands are around her is seconds, squeezing, and she's twisting and thrashing in his grasp.
Then she's being lifted and thrown forward. The ground is hard and unforgiving when she lands and her right elbow slams into the dirt, fingers suddenly going numb. For a second she is too stunned to do anything but breathe deep and steady to control the pain radiating from her elbow. But then she regains her bearings and pushes herself to hands and knees. Something hot and sticky is running down her arm and into the palm of her hand but she's too angry to even think about it.
With a, "I'm done with you!" Chuck has retreated to his truck.
But Ariel will be damned if she lets him get away that easy. Chuck is a bastard, she's concluded, and how dare he do this to her. She finds it funny, actually, that it's taken this extreme for her to realize that. But she'll mentally berate herself later.
She's on her feet with a roar of fury and grabbing a metal pole she's found nearby. When his truck shoots forward she's slamming the rod against his windshield. "Sonofabitch!" she yells as the glass spiderwebs and then she slugs his headlights. Then a shot to the hood.
"What the hell are you doing!" Chuck's yelling as he jumps from his car. "Stop you crazy bitch!" He rips the pole from her hands and spins her towards him.
She aims another punch towards his face but he leans back, dodging and then tags her with a hammer of a fist to the side of her face. She sees stars and pitches backwards to the ground. There's salty thick blood in her mouth and then a steel-toed boot slams into her stomach.
The breath shoots from her lungs and Ariel rolls from the blow, until she's on her back staring up at the sky. She chokes on blood that tries to run down her throat and coughs. Blood slips into her left eye and she squints up at Chuck Cranston who is standing over her with a somewhat annoyed look on his face.
"Now look what you've made me do," he pants.
With the last of her energy, Ariel kicks up between Chuck's legs. She grins to herself as his eyes cross in pain. With a groan he grabs himself and slumps to the ground. Ariel welcomes the silence and tries to forget the pain. It's easier said than done. For some reason breathing is suddenly difficult for her, and with every twitch of a finger on her right hand, there is tingling and sharp split seconds of pain.
"You whore!" Chuck roars in a hoarse voice, staggering to his feet. "Crazy fucking bitch!"
She's surprised when he doesn't run her over when he peels out of the gravel parking lot. She almost wishes he did, because now she feels like, total, utter, shit. This mess she's in, as usual, is her own damn fault. She knows it's been her fault for a long time now. But somewhere, someone's whispering that this is what she's wanted all along.
And for a lack of better terms, that really, really, sucks.
With a broken sob and a couple of tears, from the pain or her overall patheticness, she can't be sure; she gets to her hands and knees. Then, slowly, she stands on unsteady feet. Her ribs protest walking almost instantly, but she ignores them. With a focused mind, not easily done with her pounding head, she's able to take a step. Then another. And another. And soon she's walking. A slow stagger, really, but walking all the same.
In a split second she concludes that she is not going to go home. There's no way in hell she's going to let her parents see her like this. Odds are her father would have a heart attack and her mother would shut down completely. Rusty is out of the question as well, because Ariel knows her best friend will blame herself for what's happened. That's just Rusty.
So really, it all comes down to the fact that Ren McCormick is the only real person who has ever seen her at her worst. And you know what? She doesn't want to be alone right now. And she feels that Ren will be able to handle this. Ever since the bar he has kind of, sort of, shifted into a kind of sort of boyfriend. A real, decent, caring boyfriend. It'd been a long time since Ariel has had one of those. Actually, a long time as in never.
With her mind set, she squares her jaw and hardens her eyes. Wiping the blood out of her eyes she takes a step down the gravel parking lot, finding success in hearing the rocks crunch under her boot.
Somewhere in the distance, thunder rolls.