A/N sorry for the wait, I've had this chapter finished for a while now, I just haven't had the time to upload it! Here it is!
Scars And Souvenirs
At first, when I ran, it felt like everyone else was moving in slow motion. I hardly heard the angry yells of a police officer coming from behind me over the thundering beat of my heart. A firm hand grasped my arm, trying to hold me back and I just shook it off. Nothing could deter me now.
"Miss, you're not allowed back in there, it isn't secure!" he yelled as I ran, blatantly disregarding him as I streaked into the empty school halls, running past the bodies of others, my ebony hair streaming out from behind me like a war banner.
"Elle?" I called, the only reply being the echoes thrown back by the silent building, mockingly. The hallway seemed to loom ahead of me, unseen faces smirked at me from the shadows, daring me to keep moving. All my earlier bravado had vanished into a mist and slipped through my fingers, leaving only an empty pit of panic. It was eerily silent, the only audible sound was the harsh grating breaths that ripped from my lungs prematurely, it was as if the school building itself was mourning the deaths. I ran in haphazard trails, down random hallways, until I finally heard a sign of life.
A subtle squeak of a shoe against the floor came from behind a locker. Soft sobbing echoed through the cavernous hallways, bouncing off lockers and ceilings and doors and walls as everything in earshot cried in horror. At first she was just a blur, a little ball tucked in a hallway corner, but then those fearful brown eyes met mine and froze me into place.
"What the hell are you doing here?" her words came off slurred and sad, as if she was hung over, lacking any fire or anger.
"I came to find you, I wanted to see if you were okay." I explained, feeling my heart break for this girl. She was crying heavily, quickly devolving. Elle, minus her weapon, suddenly looked so small and innocent, like a heartbroken child. Which is when I realized, that's what she was.
"Okay? Me okay? You're a couple years too late." she laughed bitterly. It was then that I noticed the awkward angle of her elbow, the white bone of her knuckles straining against her tanned skin as she clenched her hand, and the gun leveled to her temple, its muzzle nestled among her black-brown locks, this was the end right here.
"It's never too late Elle, you can always heal. Please, put the gun down before you do something you'll regret." I pleaded, watching the finger perched on the trigger strain to pull, yet nothing happened. She was hopeless, and I had to give her some hope. The odds were stacked against me though. She was now aware of what she'd done today, and feeling the guilt of it for sure, she knew that she wasn't going to walk free, that she'd be arrested on multiple murder counts. But I couldn't let her die.
"It's too late, you don't get it. Everyone had the choice to stop, they had the choice to stop teasing me, to stop making up rumors, to stop beating me up when no one else was watching. It's too late, they all made the decision for me." she gestured at the dead halls, as if she expected the bullies to materialize there, to rise from the dead. Her eyes were vacant and haunted and if you looked closely enough, you could almost see the faces of her tormentors flashing through like a ghost, shifting shapes as the faceless enemy took on the visage of everyone she'd ever known.
"I do get it Elle because I went through it just like you! People treat me like a pariah because of who I am, what I wear, who I love. Hell, I wouldn't have even been in that bathroom this morning if it wasn't for some meatheaded kid throwing his lunch at me! It's not fair, but it doesn't have to end like this." I exclaimed. She seemed to slowly process this, but I could tell it wasn't reaching her yet.
"This is all the control I have left. This was the only way to stop it all..." Her eyes glazed over, became more robotic, she was preparing.
"No! no Elle this isn't control! If you kill yourself you let every one of them win! They end up being successful because they managed to make you feel so low that death became the only escape. But there's another escape route, and it's just outside that door. Please drop the gun." I pleaded, holding my hand out while motioning down the hallway to the main door. My proffered hand seemed to connect to her better than any of my words, like offering the touch to a leper, an untouchable, reassuring them that they weren't below care. The weapon in her hand shook tentatively, dropping from her head to her shoulder and hanging from her hand at a weird angle, like a broken limb.
"They told everyone I-I was a whore, a slut. When really I was, I was raped." she admitted in a soft, defeated voice. Her arm jerkily offered me the gun, which I tossed down the hall as soon as it touched my fingertips. The pistol discharged upon hitting the floor, before skittering against the tiles harmlessly. I took Elle's limp, frozen hand and seized it, pulling her to her feet and into my arms. She was just like the gun now, her last shot of effort gone, harmless, a child so tortured she found no other solution than revenge. I felt her small hands knot themselves in my hair and shirt, her head tucked against my shoulder, crying so loudly it could probably overpower the sound of gunfire. Her anguish overpowered the violence, until I felt that I wasn't hugging a murderer, but a fellow victim.
"I've got to take you outside okay? The police are going to take you away, just don't fight them okay?" she nodded into my shoulder, sobs catching in her throat.
"Just a little bit longer?" she whimpered. She was clutching me so desperately, because after years of being tormented and ostracized, she was finally making a connection. I stayed just as she asked, stroking her hair, letting her know she wasn't alone. When her crying subsided a bit, I kept one arm tucked around her shuddering shoulders, letting her shield her face in my hair, as we both walked out of this nightmare. The bright lights of the outdoors hit us violently, stunning us just as the police who jumped into action stunned us. They were immediately on Elle, yanking and shoving her into handcuffs.
"Be gentle with her!" I yelled, watching the officers give me a weird look, but comply. She began to struggle violently against the rough hands.
"Emily, don't let them take me!" she begged, being tugged from my side and to the waiting police car. The heartbroken look in her eyes nearly ripped my heart from my chest, and I followed her, enveloping her in another hug, this one slightly awkward due to the angle of her handcuffed arms.
"I'm sorry Elle, this is how it has to be." was all I could get out before she was gone. I stood there, reeling from all that went on, when I saw them. Standing at the base of the school's stone steps, were Dave, Derek, Spencer, Penelope, Aaron on crutches, and JJ, with her arm in a clean white bandage. They waited for me, they all waited.
"Emily!" they all called out, and I ran over to them, getting engulfed in the centre of a giant group hug. The triumphant faces of my newfound friends surrounded me as they congratulated me, apparently I was a hero. Arms grabbed me around the neck, and I was dragged into a desperate, hungry kiss from my blonde girl. Neither of us had even taken a breath, our lips fused together as if she was all I needed to stay alive. At the point when her tongue entered my mouth I heard a drawn-out wolf whistle come from Morgan, who was wearing a joking smile until Penelope smacked him upside the head, wearing a joking smile of her own.
"Sorry baby-girl" he chuckled, giving her an apologetic grin. I turned my attention back to the blonde in front of me, who just gazed at me with a breathless grin.
"You did it." she exclaimed, before sneaking in another brief, triumphant kiss.