A/N: In the last book I thought a few scenes were missing to do with Zach, considering you know, his mother kills and torturers everyone? Here's my take on the scene where he thinks about her.
To Love Her
"There is something to be said about human reluctance to fully understand themselves. Why? Why do we all feel the need to mask who we are? The answer is simple, really; humans like to hide behind smoke and mirrors."
The stars were bright as small shafts of light littered the gazebo floor. It was a warm night; the trees were calm and swaying in the barely-there breeze. Everything was like a storybook; except there was no prince or princess, just a lone wolf howling to the moon.
I pushed my hand angrily through my hair, willing her out of my mind. It was dangerous to be out here, they were after me… still. Would it ever stop? Probably not. In this business you never got away.
I laid my head down in my palms, trying to steady my breathing. It wasn't working. Nothing was, I just couldn't get over what I saw.
Her body had been covered for the last few months; I had just thought it was her usual thing. Apparently, nothing she did this year was normal. Her memory returned over winter break, changing her completely. Making her edgy and just plain hurt.
I don't think the whole torture thing had set in until I saw. For the longest time I had ignored it, just like every other bad thing in my life. The lines. Oh god, they were everywhere on her body. Granted, Dr. Fibbs made a cream that would erase them for good. But would they? I mean, would they ever truly be gone? No. I could tell by her eyes, usually blue and soft, now blue and sharp.
She did this. I could just imagine the smirk on her face as she slowly dragged a blade down Cammie's spine. I hated her, with my entire being. But I couldn't help wondering why it still hurt to think about her if I hated her, which I clearly do. My mother, that goddamn heathen.
The gentle touch of her fingers across my hair alerted me to her presence. "I thought I'd find you here."
I didn't look up knowing that if I did, I'd lose all semblance of control.
"Zach, it's really not that bad." Her voice was light and airy, just like a ghost. I stole a peek outside of my palms; all I saw was her jacket as she stood directly in front of me.
Slowly as if she thought I was a wild animal, she bent down so that her face was next to mine. Placing her hand on my leg, she tried to unpin my elbow from where it rested on my knee. "Hey there, come on. Look at me."
I did, fully aware that my eyes were rimmed in red and that for the first time in years, I was wearing no mask.
For a while, she just stared. Those ever changing blue eyes locked onto my face, just gazing. Gently, her fingers cupped my cheek sending a tingle through my body. Minutes past and still, she kept gazing.
For all we noticed, a bomb could have gone off. But still, she kept gazing.
Then ever so tenderly, she leaned her face towards mine inch by inch. Her breath smelled like vanilla ice cream, her body like fresh water lilies. But still, she kept gazing. With a final lean, her lips apprehensively touched mine.
Just like that, her gaze ended.
But in its place was something magical, if I'm to be so clichéd.
Nothing mattered, as I poured the emotions I felt for her into that simple, light kiss. The pain, the aching guilt, the reverence, all flew from my lips onto hers. I heard a slight gasp from her as a tear from my eye traced itself on her palm. How, how could she care about me? Damaged, destructive me?
Another came with it as she stood up, hovering over me. I sat there on that bench and just like that, it ended and the gaze was back. But this time words accompanied it, "I don't regret it, you know; this summer," she motioned to her recovering body, "any of it, really."
"It shouldn't… you shouldn't," I tried to convey the emotions I was feeling and apparently I succeeded as a tear of her own joined mine as she looked down at me and my voice softened, "there shouldn't have been any answers to find."
A desperate look entered her eyes; a sad smile lined her lips, "But life isn't fair, is it?" Her hand parted through my shaggy hair, I really needed a haircut. "I wish it hadn't been necessary, just as much as you Zach; trust me on that one."
For a second, she looked away from me; her mind seeing something long past gone.
"But it was, and if I hadn't gone?" Her voice trailed off still staring into the abyss, "They would have got it first and then Zach? Everything as we know it would-."
She stopped talking when she noticed my flinch. Her mouth parted slightly, probably about to ask a question. Then with a fleeting look of sympathy she asked, "This is about her, isn't it?"
I immediately knew who she was talking about and felt some panic as I imagined what I must look like to her. Emotionally pained about my mother but fine about her being tortured, "Gallagher girl, I-" but her mouth stopped my words with a quiet kiss, probably the best way to make me shut up, thinking about it.
"I know Zach; I know you care about me." A small smile tugged at the corner of her face, "I can always count on that."
"Can you?" I stood up from my place on the bench, finally face to face with her. "How do you know I won't do this," I struck hard and fast, catching her throat in my hands, squeezing, almost willing myself to cut off her air supply. "And kill you?"
She didn't move.
I started to get frantic, my mind going crazy with the need to make her understand, "If she could turn into the very thing she once fought against, what's saying I can't?" I let go of her throat, with a twinge of guilt I saw a bit of a bruise forming.
Her gaze never left my eyes, even as they started to water, "Because Zach, you're not her." Her small hand grabbed my tight fist, gently prying it apart.
I let her open my hand and said, "You're telling me," I paused and grabbed both her shoulders roughly, "that I'm not like her. You, someone who has intimate knowledge on how she talks, walks, even attacks?" Conscious of the bruise on her neck, I made sure to keep my grip steady but not painful.
She took a step back from me, leaning against the opposite railing and in a matter of fact tone said, "Oh no, Zach." Her face turned blank and deadly, "I see her in you, a lot actually."
At that flinch her expression changed into something more calm and comforting. Her hand slowly traced my eyes as she whispered, "Zach, as much as I don't like your mother she is and will forever be, your mother." Her hand paused, "She gave you the shape of your eyes," with one finger she grazed my lips, "The arch of your lip," she moved her body closer to mine, "and most importantly," her lips were a hairsbreadth away, "she gave me you."
Moving away from me she continued, "Without her, I wouldn't have you. And because of that, Zach, I could never hate your mother. So when I look at you I see her, that's true enough, but not the part of her that hurt me. I see the part of her that saved your life back in Philadelphia, that gave birth to you, that in her own twisted way still loves you."
I snorted at the last part and walked down to the grass in front of the gazebo. The grass was wet underneath me. Aggravated and hurt I pushed my hands forcefully into their respective pockets and basically snarled, "Somehow, I doubt that."
I took a deep breath to steady myself and tried to continue in a little less psychotic sounding tone, "She doesn't love me."
I looked out into the empty street. It was peaceful without the everyday hustle and bustle of people moving about in their shallow lives, completely ignorant to the very girls who are training to protect them, treating them like dirt.
Behind me I heard Cammie jump down the gazebo steps, her footsteps as lithe as a feline predator's, "Oh yes she does, Zach, just like you love her."
"No, I hate her."
"If you hated her, then you'd be back in your dorm sleeping. You wouldn't be out here with me."
"I hate her."
Her hands gently wrapped around my waist pinning my arms to my sides and rested her cheek against my jacket, "No you don't." It was said quietly, quieter then a normal whisper and only because of my training could I hear it.
Without taking her hands off me I turned to face her, hesitancy in my every move, "I hate her Cammie. I do, I really do. How can't I?" I picked up a strand of her hair and twirled it in between my fingers thinking back to the time when the only thing I knew about her was the feel of her hair against my palm, "When she hurt you?" In my mind that sentence had been a statement but in the process of saying it, it turned into a question.
Meeting my eyes she stated, "It's simple really, she's your mother." It didn't seem like she wanted to continue but I think my eyes told her that she should. Taking a step back she tentatively began again, "Look Zach," she took a deep breath, "I know personally that I couldn't," hesitantly Cam stopped and bit her bottom lip; "I'm really screwing this up aren't I?" I shook my head in answer.
"What I meant is that I know that you couldn't hate her because she's, ah, someone who cared for you. She's your mother, I guess in the scheme of things that may not matter much to you in this day and age but," She shifted the weight between her feet, "but to that little boy that's somewhere deep inside of you, that one who looked for her approval…"
My teeth clenched, I was not that little defenseless boy anymore.
"That wanted to be near her, that little boy," she poked my chest lightly, "still loves her."
I felt the tears returning to my eyes but I culled them, I had already reached my tear quota for the night.
Her face tilted up to mine, "I think you know what you feel Zach, somewhere in your mind you recognize it. You feel betrayed, probably the most betrayed any one person could ever feel and guess what Gallagher boy?" In the back of my mind I idly noticed how the sky was obtaining a slightly pink tinge. "In order to feel betrayed..." Her eyes strong, gaze penetrating my very being, it's like she knew I was done for, that I believed her words.
"You have to love."
Biting my lip I saw her start to walk away from me more dignified and powerful than ever before. I reached my hand into my pocket and felt the slip of paper she left there, sometime n the last few minutes.
Sitting down on the dew covered grass I opened it and read,
Don't let go of that little boy inside of you, Zach. I kind of like him.
I stared down the road where Cammie disappeared and snorted, thinking about what kind of place this world was if the torturer's son loved both the tortured and the torturer.
But for once? I didn't care, because I had been given a blessing from the only person that really mattered.
A/N: You like? It took me a while to get it just right but I think it came out just splendid, don't you? If you liked it, please review! And guess what? Reviewing has been made so much easier! Just look below, type and send!
Don't know what to say? Here I'll give you a few hints:
Tell me how you'd score it (1 being crap- 10 being perfect).
Tell me you're favorite line.
Tell me how annoyed you are that I wrote this instead of another chapter for Red.
Tell me an idea you'd like that I wrote about! And guys I mean ANY scenario... and if I feel inspired about it, I'll write a one-shot on it. YAYAYAY.