This popped into my head on the bus the other day. It's based on books 5-8, when Real Ali is A. I apologize for any inaccuracies, I'm working fully off my memory here. Also, I'm taking creative liberties with the end, sort of.

As always, I don't own Pretty Little Liars.

Absolution

When I was released from the Preserve at Addison-Stevens, I wanted revenge. Years ago I had killed my sister for taking over my life and my name. Courtney had thought she could just sweep in, like she was so perfect, and pick new friends. She had thought she could do whatever she liked with my life, and to hell with me.

Believe me, I thought the same for her. That one time we were both at home was the ideal time for me, as I was home to see my "family" before I shifted to a new hospital.

Killing her had seemed at first, one of those things. I wish she was dead, or Sometimes I just really want to kill her.

The more time I spent in the hospital though, the more the idea took flame in my mind. It was already planted, and once I started acting as though I was Courtney (getting those meddling doctors and nurses off my back), I started planning. Eventually one day I would be declared healthy and allowed to leave.

At the end of seventh grade it was planned that I, as Courtney, would be spending the weekend at home. I could use the time to assess the damage she had done to my perfect life over the last few months.

When I got home, Mom told me that Courtney and her friends would be having a sleepover in Spencer's barn. Once I was sure my parents wouldn't notice, I snuck out to spy. Knowing Spencer, she'd find some way to fight with Courtney, and that could work to my advantage. The fact that my family was building a gazebo helped too.

Things that night all worked in my favour, and I killed my sister when she ran off after arguing with Spencer. It was almost too perfect: I couldn't have scripted it better.

Once it was done I returned home-only, it was short-lived. My family was known to have only two children, and I couldn't suddenly reappear after I was thought to have gone missing. I was sent to the Preserve at Addison-Stevens while the media frenzy continued. I still had to pretend I was Courtney, as it was the only way to make everyone would think I was getting better.

When I killed Courtney I had a small sense of satisfaction, but it too was short-lived. Killing her meant she was completely out of my way. I no longer had to worry about someone taking over as Alison DiLaurentis, but it didn't undo all the parts of my life she had wrecked.

For a start, there were her friends. What she saw in them, I didn't know. At first, anyway. Naomi and Riley had been the best friends I'd had. They had minds of their own, they followed fashion… Out of Courtney's friends, Spencer was possibly the best of the group. Once I was out of the hospital I began to do my research. I knew that her disappearance had created quite the media furore over the years, and I needed something to do before I could be properly introduced to the public.

It almost killed me that I had to be introduced to Rosewood as Courtney, but I would figure something out.

During my research of them, I got a sense of who the Pretty Little Liars were. Each of them had been stalked by Mona, a loser-turned-popular-girl, impersonating me. I had to admire her nerve. Impersonating someone like me couldn't have been easy, but once I dug a little deeper I found that she'd done a very good job. It was almost a shame that she was dead.

Emily. The shy girl who was in love with me, confused about her sexuality and would go to the ends of the earth for her.

Hanna. Insecure about her looks, wanted to be me, desperate to make herself over into thin and gorgeous.

Spencer. Always competing with those around her, always doing something to push herself to be better.

Aria. Never quite as enchanted with me as the others, always a bit more independent than everyone else.

It occurred to me that I could use these girls to atone for what Courtney had done. After all, there was The Jenna Thing… and the incident with Ian. I could atone for all that she'd done wrong under my name, even if it meant people had to die.

Once I was introduced to the Rosewood community by means of the press conference, I quickly got to work. I knew Emily, at least, wouldn't be able to resist me, and the others would be the same. Telling my mom that I wanted to go inside and rest didn't look at all unreasonable.

I could tell they were canvassing me during our little introduction. Spencer particularly, realizing that I too was her new sister.

I'd have to sneak around a bit more, but that wasn't a big deal. I'd already been sneaking out of the house to follow them, and of course I'd had to actually go somewhere to kill Ian and Jenna.

When I'd killed Ian, it was like giving the finger to Courtney. In my own little way, I was denouncing her choice of guys. After all, she could have picked someone a little more interesting or someone who didn't have a girlfriend. Besides which, she was competing with Spencer over guys. Kissing Ian only meant that she wanted what others had (no big surprise there) and annoyed the hell out of me.

It also meant that she-however fleetingly-had the same taste in guys as Melissa Hastings, prim and proper and boring. And that just wouldn't do.

Didn't she realize that whatever she did reflected on us both? We were twins, even in the loosest sense of the word. Even if we didn't acknowledge it.

Ian was also one of the very few who knew about the third child in the DiLaurentis family, and that made him a threat. He was liable to go telling the girls, and I didn't want that to happen. Chances were, they wouldn't believe him given that he was up on murder charges, but I didn't want to risk the rumour getting out.

Then killing Jenna was like wiping it from her-my history. I could make it like Jenna never existed, never had been blinded by some stupid prank gone wrong. My twin didn't seem to realize that going to the effort of pranking Toby Cavanaugh indicated that she cared about his presence. Instead of thoroughly ignoring him and Jenna, she had to go messing with fireworks and blinding her. Evidently, she didn't realize that it was a really dumb thing to do and that she could actually get in trouble.

At least she had the sense to blackmail her way out of the blame, but she shouldn't have been in that position in the first place.

Killing Jenna, after Toby was gone, meant there was no reason for the Cavanaugh family-what remained of it-to stay in Rosewood. It meant that I didn't have to see them, didn't have to see the guide dog that used to belong to Jenna.

It meant there were no more physical reminders of that incident. I could put it behind me.

When I set fire to the woods behind Spencer's house, I was thinking to kill them. With luck, I could douse the area around the barn where the girls were gathered with gasoline and set it alight. Unfortunately, no person can control fire and I found myself trapped. Luckily Aria was decent enough to help me out of the inferno, and I had to vanish before media could pounce upon me.

I was also thinking of the symbolism. Setting fire to those woods meant I could destroy the area where my sister died, thereby wiping it too from the past. Getting rid of the physical reminders was my main goal, and then I would focus upon forgetting all the memories I had.

Of course the trees and grasses would grow back in time, and that was the metaphor I was interested in. It would be as though a new slate had presented itself to me.

I made sure to flee quickly after, grateful for the home workouts I'd been doing. I was furious with myself for not making a clear path that would let me escape quickly and easily.

Never mind, I consoled myself that night. Fire was definitely the way to go and it probably wouldn't be too much longer before I was introduced as Courtney to the general public. I would then be going to school and seeing the Liars every day. It wouldn't take much for them to warm to me and trust me.

I was right. Emily was quickest to warm to me, and with a few well-chosen words about sisterhood I had Spencer wrapped around my little finger. An inane compliment about her hair and Hanna was pulled in.

Aria was the hardest. I should've known that complimenting her earrings or blathering about long-lost friendship and forgiveness wouldn't be enough. It was only after she saw the shame and guilt masking my face that she decided to give me a chance.

I wanted to finally absolve myself of these four losers that Courtney had gotten all tangled up with. Once we were on my frequency I was pulling every string there was-it was really quite tiring after a while. They were so thrilled to have me back, they didn't even recognize anything that was going on.

Of course they didn't. I was too good an actress. I'd had years to perfect my skills, pretending to be my twin in hospital.

I continued the inane pleasantries, distributing bikinis and prattling on about the hot tub and reenactments to help my recovery. Yet again, they all fell for it and it was what I'd been waiting for.

I began distributing small amounts of gasoline around the place, counting my lucky stars that we were in such a remote place that cell phones wouldn't work. I slid a little note under the door to keep them occupied while I got everything ready for destroying the house and killing them. Again, there was symbolism in destroying the house. It would be destroying the memories the house held, of Courtney bringing her friends here. Memories that were rightfully mine-it should have been me bringing my friends here for a weekend.

I didn't bother locking them in the room. I figured they'd try some attempt of getting out, and one of them clearly remembered the secret passageway to the kitchen. I moved around hammering windows shut and starting the fire. By keeping all the heat enclosed, it would mean that rather than just burning, the house would explode.

I watched as Emily managed to open the door and the girls got out. By now the fire was pressing in on all sides and I wondered if I was hallucinating when I saw the door still open slightly. Stupid Emily, I thought hazily. If she had any sense of self-preservation she would've locked the door behind her, leaving me to the fire.

One light push on the door, and I would be free. I had to make it. I refused to die in an inferno intended to kill a group of girls. This fire was intended to be my cleansing balm for yet another wrong Courtney had done me. If the girls survived, I had to as well, somehow. I could leave for a while, recover and make my plans. Then I could return, make another-more successful-attempt, and finish my absolution once and for all.

Besides, I still had my parents and Jason to contend with.