A/N hello again! To everyone out there reading or following Get Through or A Chance at Happiness, I haven't abandoned them, but my muse refused to shut up about this idea. It's a shortie, it'll probably only be like six chapters, so I figured I could sneak it in here! As always, tell me what you think!
Scars And Souvenirs
"The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body; after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind, and they are in continual danger of breaking the skin and bursting out again."
-Francois de La Rochefoucauld
My hands shook as I stared at the cavernous front hall of the building, its doors gaping open like the jaws of some mythical beast, prepared to eat me alive. The fabric of my plain black shirt suddenly felt like sandpaper against my skin, the plain leather cuff bracelets around my wrists became manacles. Nervousness seized my stomach in its icy grip, making me momentarily forget the delicate hand clasped desperately within mine. I wasn't goth, at least I didn't think of myself that way, but apparently that's the label you earn when you have dark hair, pale skin, dark clothes and black eye makeup, but highschool kids like to judge. The simple thought made me shudder uncomfortably, adjusting the sleeves of my shirt until I was certain no one could see my wrists. I hated the thought of the gossip mongers' beady eyes trying to steal my every secret.
JJ tightened her hand around mine in a soothing reminder, you are not alone. The wandering thought of the radiant blonde lit up my world like a ray of sunshine.
Last year, when I first came to this school, she was well on her way to becoming the sports-star, prom queen, basically the alpha female of the school. But one particularly shitty day, she caught me crying in the bathroom, just about to cut, and I remembered thinking my life was officially over. JJ was going to tell her friends, the ones that followed behind her like hunger-crazed bees to honey, how much of a freak I really was. But to my utter shock, she sat down beside me, talked me down, and stayed there for the whole period, talking about silly little things, trying to make me smile. From that moment, just like her awestruck followers, I couldn't get Jennifer Jareau out of my head.
It was during the summer, sitting at the neighborhood park, soaking in the sun and the laughs of the people around us, that I came out to her. I still can't remember her response, I think it got lost somewhere among the earth-shattering kiss she had floored me with. We had the idyllic summer romance, and I found that each moment I spent with her made me crave a million more. I fell hard for her, but she was there at the bottom to catch me in her gentle yet strong arms.
Consequent to her actions though, she essentially labeled herself a fellow freak, the one whom I 'infected with my gayness'. Though she was somehow able to walk down the halls of our school proudly, insults hurled our way deflected by her invincible spirit. It was that and only that, which made it possible for me to walk into school for that first day, head held high, thriving off her pride.
Kids seemed to part like the Red Sea, not out of respect or kindness, but more like I carried some communicable disease which could be caught simply by being too close. I focused on what JJ was telling me about her first period class, trying to ignore the stab of pain I felt whenever an insult or spitball or crumpled paper ball hit me square in the back. It was when we turned to walk down another hallway when I felt something cold and wet hit me on the side of the face.
I stood there awkwardly for a second, as if my limbs were suddenly too long for my body. It was only until she mockingly sweet odor hit my nose did I realize what I was currently wearing. Some kids snickered before walking away, leaving me standing in a puddle of yogurt.
Before I could say anything, before I could even blink, I felt the angry sting of tears brewing. JJ, silently fuming, pulled me off to the side into a bathroom, and locked the main door. I stood at the sink, inspecting the damage done to my hair and clothing. I stared down, letting the clean white surface become blurry as tears flooded my eyes. The blonde came over, gently taking my face in her hands, not caring one bit about the sticky yogurt mess getting on her.
"Hey, it's okay, probably just some stupid kid." she soothed, rubbing my cheek with her thumb, obliterating tear tracks like windshield wipers.
"It's always some stupid kid Jayje! I'm sick of it, I'm sick of feeling like an outcast in my own school, I'm sick of getting things thrown at me, I'm sick of the words 'stupid dyke', and I'm sick of dragging you through all this! You don't deserve to put up with this, you don't deserve me." I hung my head in shame, using all my will not to break down and cut again. After all, I had promised Jennifer that I'd stop.
"Nuh-uh, you don't get to do that Hon, you don't get to push me away so you suffer in silence. It sucks what we have to go through here, but we have each other, and it'll all be over soon. We're going to graduate together, we're going to buy an apartment, and we're going to enjoy the rest of our lives together, and where will they be?" she pressed, giving me a soft kiss upon my clean cheek before stepping back.
"So what do you say about getting you cleaned up?" JJ asked, stepping back and rolling up her sleeves. I shucked the shirt off over my head, groaning as I felt the disgusting substance sticking to my skin. I felt oddly exposed, standing in the cold tile bathroom in pants and a bra. JJ already dumped the dirty shirt in another sink to soak, and stared at me with a slightly amused expression.
"Y'know, when I fantasized about you and I, alone, with one of us topless, I never thought you'd be wearing yogurt." she smiled her dazzling smile, easily helping me banish my sadness.
"You fantasize about me?" I blushed, trying to hide my immense nervousness at my current state. Out of habit I crossed my arms over my chest, hiding the worst of the scars. I didn't even need to speak for her to know exactly what I was saying.
"And only you." she fixed me with a flirty look that made me feel like the most important person in the world. Damp paper towel in hand, she stood behind me and whispered in my ear, the ethereal specter of her breath dancing across my skin.
"Relax beautiful, I've got your back." she soothed, gently wiping away the sticky mess with caring hands, before doing the same with my hair, aided by a comb. I stared at myself in he mirror, half-clothed with damp hair.
"You wouldn't happen to have a change of clothes and a blow dryer on you, would you?" I halfheartedly joked. The blonde pulled off her hoodie, passing it to me to put on.
"I may have an extra change of clothes in my locker, I can't make any promises about the blow dryer though, okay?" she smiled, obviously glad to see that I'd perked up. Walking over to where she stood, near the door, I placed a loving kiss upon her lips. Her omniscience towards my feelings was only multiplied when we were together. Sometimes it was as if in every breath-thieving nip and silky caress and tangling of tongues, we were speaking a different language, one written in each happy moment together and unique to the two of us. I gently pressed a semi-chaste kiss to the corner of her mouth, which was slightly open as she breathed.
"You, you are kind of awesome." I whispered, as if it was some secret. I pressed my cool forehead against hers, simply resting together, enjoying the intimacy.
"So are you, remember that. Even when you don't feel it, you're awesome." She said, before spinning around to go outside. She had barely laid her hand upon the
lock when a muted shriek split the air. Both of us shared a confused glance before opening the door. The hallway seemed was too empty, and it was then when it occurred to me, first bell never went off.
"Em, get behind me." JJ ordered in a level voice, moving so her body blocked mine.
"What's going on Jayje?" I asked, when she just shook her head.
"It's nothing, I'm sure, just a feeling. Please Em get back." She was begging now, the desperation in her voice evident. I reluctantly obliged and had only taken a few steps back when I heard it.
A loud, echoing bang resounded through the outside hallway, sounding like a truck backfiring or a broom snapping in half. But in my state of heightened alertness my sensitive ears could pick up the scream of a scared kid, the empty thud of something heavy hitting the floor, the delicate clink of a spent casing hitting the industrially tiled floor. All the blood in my body went cold, the sounds I'm hearing are gunfire.
I bolted back to here JJ stood, her eyes wide open and her body frozen in fear. I was worried she was injured, and I pushed the door shut instantly, locking it with trembling fingers. JJ still stood stock-still and unblinking, so carefully yet quickly I hoisted her up into my arms, carrying her as far away from the danger as the four walls of the bathroom would allow. I laid her out on the floor, giving her a quick once-over with my hands and eyes. No blood, no bullet holes.
"Jennifer are you okay? Did you get hurt anywhere?" I begged, trying to bring her out of her shocked trance. At that statement her numb blue eyes found mine, and she sat up from her lying position, curling into my body like it was the only thing that made it safe.
"I saw it, I saw the person shoot that girl, she was begging with the shooter, I saw her begging for her life, when all of a sudden there was a loud pop and she fell against the floor. The shooter was pacing around the body warily, but there was so much blood. They put a bullet between that girl's eyes and the shooter was the one who seemed scared. I wanted to shut the door and find you, I wanted to run and hide and make sure we were safe, but I couldn't stop watching. It was like a car accident or a plane crash, something so horrific that you couldn't tear your eyes away. Then the shooter looked up, and all I could see was their eyes boring into mine, their fear-filled, frantic brown eyes fixed me with a stare so intense it hurt the back of my skull. And for a second they looked ready to come over here, to come and kill us, but something crashed at the other end of the hall and they ran off. But before they left, I could swear I saw them mouth "I'll be back." I could have died Em! I could have just died and you'd be safe but now the shooter's going to come back and kill us both, I'm so sorry Emily!" her words dissolved into terrified sobs, so powerful they shook me in the process of breaking free from the blonde. I was so overwhelmed by her confession I didn't know where to start or what to say to her.
"Hey, you shouldn't feel sorry for not dying Jen, ever. I'm just glad we're both safe now, and if that changes we'll deal with it then. But did you see who the shooter was?" I was rubbing her back now, hoping the continued contact would keep her here with me and not zoning out into a state of shock.
"No, I just saw their eyes, it's like the rest was all a blur, I just can't remember Emily! I just can't-I can't-Emily-Em-Em-I-can't-Em-I can't-Breathe" she began hyperventilating, her eyes wide with panic. I shifted her in my arms, helping her to lean over farther and put her head between her knees, all the while rubbing her back and stroking her hair. Her shaky lungs managed one deep, quivering breath before I heard something else. There was a knock at the door.
"Em, the shooter came back for us! Don't open it!" she pleaded, until I heard the muffled cries of "help" from the other side.
"There are others that need help, I'm going to let them in." I reassured, getting up from my spot on the floor and staring down the bathroom. The small room seemed to stretch unnaturally, so the door seemed miles away.
"What if it's a trap?" JJ called to me, as I reached for the handle of the door. At the thought of swinging the door open to be greeted by a bullet, a dreadful shudder wracked my body. The greater dread though, was the thought of dying and leaving JJ alone.
"Then I love you Jennifer Jareau." I gave her a smile to reassure her, which ended up seeming more like a grimace, twisting the anguished mask of my face in unfamiliar ways. That was the first time I'd ever told her I loved her, and I hoped it wouldn't be my last.
The doorknob burned the palm of my hand, but I wouldn't let go. Instead I grasped it tighter, struggling to block out the heart-rending cries of my girlfriend pleading for me not to die, and twisted it open, waiting for the pain to take me, and begging it would be over soon.
A/N read and review pretty please!