A/N: Okay, so I'm a complete dork. The first time I posted this chapter, I accidentally left off the last 3 pages. *facepalm*. That's what I get for not going back and looking it over after posting, I guess. If you read this prior to 10/20/2012, you'll probably want to re-read. (If not...well...okay, but just know it's probably a really weird transition from where this left off before to where the next chapter starts.)
Disclaimer: I don't own Major Crimes or any of the characters. This first chapter also uses a lot of dialogue I didn't write. It just seemed like a good place to end the story…so it's where I'm starting the story. Yeah, I'm just weird like that. Although I intend to intersperse scenes that involve Sharon (and more than likely some other familiar characters) the story will largely focus on Rusty and will largely take place pre-series.
The moment I've been dreading finally arrives. I hear the front door and my walls are closing in.
"Rusty?" Sharon calls to me and I close my eyes as though that will block her out. "Rusty are you home?"
Maybe if I just lie here quietly, she'll think I'm asleep and this can wait until morning.
Then again, maybe not. I get up, my body tensing as her footsteps echo through the hall.
Maybe I can stall the inevitable.
"Can we talk about it in the morning?" I try. My voice sounds weird, and of course she picks up on that immediately.
"Is everything all right?"
Oh, great. Now she's worried. I want to tell her not to be, and that everything's okay, but of course it's not. I swallow the lump in my throat.
"Do I owe Daniel a call?" There's a hint of disappointment in her voice and I'd far prefer the worry. I can't let her call him. She has to find out about this from me, not…not from him. I know I screwed everything up, but it'll sound better coming from me. It'll be better that I'm not hiding it or trying to cover it up, despite wanting to do so, more than anything.
"Wait. Wait, wait," I try to placate her. "Hold on, I'm coming. Just-" My hand hesitates on the knob and, for just a moment, I rest my forehead against the door, mentally steadying myself for what's about to come. What am I going to do? I'll apologize. I'll…I don't know. I need to do some damage control, but I can't lie to her. Not just because she'll know, but because…because she's Sharon and I don't want to lie to her. If I can somehow fix this, maybe she won't…I risk bitter disappointment if I dare allow myself to hope.
"Just don't freak out, okay?" I somehow keep my voice calm, despite the panic welling in my stomach. I steel myself as I open the door. I can't look up at her as I hear her gasp.
"Oh. My God," she breathes out.
I have to look her in the eyes. She needs to know I'm sincere. "Look, don't worry. I didn't hit him back. I-I just ran and I used the hundred dollars you gave me to get a cab," I rapidly try to assure. Does it seem like I'm lying because I'm preemptively saying these things rather than waiting for the accusations? It's the truth; I swear it is!
My heart is beating rapidly as Sharon guides me to the living room. I know she's talking to me and to her credit her freak out is extremely well controlled-I can tell it's there, but her voice still sounds empathetic and soothing. She steers me to the couch and gently urges me to sit down.
"What happened?" she asks again. I can't quite read her this time. I know she's concerned, but there's also anger there. I don't think it's directed at me yet, but…I let out a sigh. Better to get this over with.
So I tell her what I did. Everything. It all comes pouring out of me. I know I should have handled things better. I know it. I just can't help myself sometimes, and my dad's fiancé was being so obnoxious and…I can't make excuses. I'm not innocent.
I wasn't trying to wreck things for my father, but I didn't exactly try to make things go smoothly either. I should have glossed things over and told Annie the fairy tale answers she wanted to hear. I shouldn't have lost my temper when my dad accused me of trying to ruin his wedding, and I shouldn't have yelled back or told him that I didn't care about his wedding. I shouldn't have called it stupid. It is important to him, so I should have…
I should have just played the part he wanted me to play.
"Why didn't you call me?" Sharon asks as she gently presses an ice pack to my cheek.
I should have done that, too. I should have done so many things differently.
I start to tell her why I didn't call, but the cold is distracting. It's also unnecessary. "We're past the ice stage on my face," I inform Sharon as I reach to push the pack away.
She firmly presses it into my hand and redirects it back to my cheek. "How can you be so sure?"
I want to leave it at that, but the questioning look she flashes me compels me to answer anyway.
"My um…my mother's boyfriend used to do this sort of thing to me like once a week," I admit. She doesn't press, and I really don't want to talk about this. I don't want her to hate me. She's the only person who doesn't hate me, and I…It's like I've opened a bottle and the pressure has built up and while I'm trying to put the cork back in, it's forcing itself out.
"Until I beat the crap out of him."
I'm not sure how I expect her to react to that, and I'm a little afraid to look. But I do anyway. I don't think she entirely believes me, because I see a tiny hint of a smile quirk one side of her mouth. In all honesty, she's right. I didn't really beat the crap out of him, but not for lack of trying. It was the first time I fought back enough to be a challenge for him, though. Which leads me to the worst confession. "And then the next day he and my mom dropped me off at the zoo." There it's out.
"So now you know everything," I quietly say the words, even though I know they're not quite true. She knows more than anyone else, so that counts, right? I've never been good at opening up to people. Except that's not quite true, either. Sometimes I'm too open, with all the wrong people and for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes I'm too open just to get people to shut up or go away and leave me alone.
But with Sharon, it's different. I want to be open with her. I don't even know why, exactly, except that I trust her. I think she trusts me, too, for the most part. So I don't want to lie to her. And I want her to know that she can trust me, too, despite not exactly being the sort of person anyone can trust.
I mean, look at me.
Look at what happened tonight.
I can't believe how well she's taking all this.
Even now that she knows that it's all my fault.
But instead of yelling or grounding or throwing me out or anything she just says, "Hmm," and keeps tending to my face. Again, she doesn't really sound like she believes me, and again she's right, I suppose. There's a lot more I could tell her. It's actually hard not to, but my nerves are still getting the best of me. Just because she hasn't sent me packing yet, doesn't mean she still couldn't when she has time to digest the things I'm telling her. Maybe she's just waiting until she knows I'm not too badly hurt. Or maybe she's like waiting to see if I confess to anything else. Or maybe she's waiting to find out if I'm remorseful about what I've done. I am sorry…and I'm not. I know that doesn't make sense, but I was only being myself and I wasn't trying to ruin anything, and I don't want to apologize. If he'd just been upset and talked to me about it, I would have, but…but he hit me and it wasn't just a heat-of-the-moment one-time thing. And it wasn't just one hit. I'm sure Sharon's figured that out by the fact that both my eye is blackened and my lip is split. She doesn't even know about the way he grabbed my shoulder and held so tight that it left finger shaped bruises. And it's for the best that she doesn't know how that he shoved me away so hard that half my chest has turned purple.
He shouldn't have hit me, but I did goad him into it. I guess I was trying to test him a little bit. I just didn't expect to hit his limit so fast. And I didn't think he'd react like that, though I suppose I should have seen it coming. My mom had a way of picking really awful boyfriends, so it shouldn't surprise me that my father wasn't the same type. So I shouldn't have pushed his buttons.
When I ask Sharon if I've done anything I should apologize for, though, she assures me that I haven't. That we're done with all that stuff, now. And I don't have to go with Daniel again, though for some reason she thinks he'll come here. I don't want him here. I like it here. Almost all my memories of this place are good ones and I don't want to ruin that.
"Before I put this stuff on your bottom lip, lift your head up," Sharon directs me.
I almost smile, wondering if this is her way of telling me to keep my chin up or something equally hokey or "inspirational". But when I ask why, she only tells me that she's going to take pictures.
She's already taken a couple before it dawns on me why.
She wants to go after the bastard.
And suddenly everything just hurts.
I feel my eyes trying to water and blink, trying to hold back. I haven't cried in ages (okay, maybe I shed a few tears that night that Mom didn't show up at the bus station, but…). But this feels so much worse and I'm afraid if I start crying, I'll never stop. But every click of the camera makes my eyes sting and my chest tighten.
"Rusty?" Sharon asks softly as she lowers the camera.
I blink a few more times before looking up at her.
"Are you okay? Do you want me to stop…?"
I can't speak. I shake my head once, close my eyes, and tilt my chin up so that she can get a better snapshot of the bruising. I don't know if I want to press charges or anything. In fact I'm pretty sure I don't-it's my own fault as much as it is Daniel's, and I don't want Annie-or at least not her girls-punished because I screwed everything up.
But the way Sharon is taking my picture, the way she's gathering evidence…I don't know that I've ever felt like this. Like…like loved or something, I think. That's probably way overstating, but...not once did my mom ever do something like this after one of her boyfriends hurt me. Pressing charges was never even a consideration.
Sharon only takes one more picture before setting the camera aside. She cups my cheek gently for a few moments, giving me that sad little smile. After a few moments she begins tending to my lip again, applying some weird smelling balm stuff that I guess is supposed to make it heal faster or something.
"Come on, let's get you to bed," she suggests a few minutes later. I kind of want to just stay here, maybe talk a little bit more, but I obey and get up anyway.
Her hand feels warm on my shoulder as she guides me back to my room. I kind of expect her to leave once we get there, but she follows me into my room. I don't realize what she's doing until she's already pulled back the bed covers and is looking at me expectantly.
I swallow the new lump that is forming in my throat. I lick my lip, wincing as I taste the bitter ointment. I hesitate a moment before sliding into bed. I can't help but tense up, but then she's pulling the covers over me. Tucking me in. I can tell my eyes are trying to well up again, but manage to stave off the tears. Still I can hear the way my breath hitches, and so can Sharon.
She runs a hand through my hair as she sits on the edge of the bed. On top of the covers. Not like…not like she'd be doing anything…weird, anyway. I mean, she's Sharon. Not…she's not like that. And, God, she probably knows that for just a moment I thought she might be; not that I really, thought that because she's been nothing but nice to me (not counting at first when I made it next to impossible for her to be) and takes care of me, but like…I want to apologize profusely, but I still can't seem to make myself speak.
"It's okay," she says. But it's not.
I'm not okay.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asks.
"About what?" My voice, now that it's returned, is far too loud, and I wince at how defensive I sound. I scoot up a little bit so that I can sit up and rest my back against the headboard.
She smiles patiently. "About whatever you want to talk about," she replies simply.
I don't want to talk. I draw my knees up to my chest and wrap my arms around them, curling myself into a protective little ball.
"It was always just my mother and me," I start telling her even though I don't want to talk. "I mean she always had boyfriends, but none that ever really stuck around more than a few weeks, if even that. Some of them, all it took was finding out she had a kid and they were out of there. Some didn't mind a kid so much, but…well, I wasn't always the easiest kid to get along with," I can't help but smile a little as she makes a tiny amused little huff. Yeah, she knows all about that. I glance at her momentarily before returning my gaze to my knees and continue. "And we didn't really have anything in common other than Mom." I know I'm rambling on about stuff that doesn't matter, but those are the easy guys for me to talk about. Not that there was really much to say other than, "They came, they went. My mom usually cried and stayed in bed 'sick' for a few days after they were gone-usually until we were out of and money or food or until her boss would threaten to fire her or whatever. But then there'd always another guy who would step in to rescue her for a few days. They didn't really take much interest in me or bother with me, for the most part.
"Well, there were a couple…" I can't look at Sharon as I say this and shift uncomfortably. "There were a couple who, um…took a little too much interest in me. I mean nothing really happened," I assure quickly, glancing at her long enough to see her eyes close, "but…" I stop. That was a lie. My mouth opens and shuts a few times, but I can't form words because I don't want to lie.
"We don't have to talk about anything you don't want to talk about," Sharon assures me soothingly. I really wish that were true, but it's like now that I've started talking, I can't stop myself. I don't really want anyone to know, but I think I kind of need her to. I need to not be so…alone with this anymore.
If I can trust anyone, it's got to be her.
I drag in a shaky breath. It's time to tell her about Roger. There's no real good place to start, so I start at the beginning. "This one time, my mother forgot to pick me up from school. It wasn't that big a deal. Well it wouldn't have been if it wasn't raining really hard and I didn't have a coat or umbrella or those stupid rubber boots or anything with me…"