A/N: Just wanted to say thank you to all of you who continue to follow, favorite, and review this story. It truly means more to me than you know, and I am so happy that you all seem to really be enjoying the story.
Also, for all of you Quinn fans, she will be making another appearance in the next chapter. Enjoy! XO-Chrmdpoet
Chapter Twenty-One: I Never Do
They each passed by me, one-by-one, holding little, white rectangular cards. Each card had a number on it, and there were five cards, five men, in total. None of them seemed to even notice me sitting there, despite the fact that I wasn't that far from them and I had to be glaring hard enough to kill at least one of them. And then the fourth guy passed by me, and just as he did, his head turned and dark eyes locked with mine.
A chill shot straight down my spine and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, my flesh prickling as he looked right into me. His face was a little scruffy and sagging a bit like maybe he'd lost a lot of weight or something, but it was his eyes that captured me. They were dark…so dark, almost black in color, and it felt like they were boring into my fucking soul.
He smiled at me then. It wasn't a friendly smile like the kind you want to return. It was terrifying. It was slow and sick and boasting, and it made my entire body shudder almost painfully. His beady, black eyes darted up and down my body, and it made me shiver and shudder again. Bile shot up my throat from my stomach and spilled into my mouth. It took everything I had just to swallow it back down as I kept my eyes locked on his, refusing to back down, refusing to show him that I was uncomfortable or rattled, because every single instinct inside me was screaming that this was the guy. This was the guy that violated Rachel. This was the guy that nearly killed her, and I sure as hell wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he creeped me out, of having some sort of power over me.
And then he was gone, disappearing like all the others into the room where Rachel would hopefully be able to identify him as her attacker and then his sick ass would be in prison for the rest of his pathetic, miserable life. And if that wasn't the case, well then I sincerely hoped that I would be able to keep my anger in check so that I didn't end up hunting the guy down myself and getting Rachel's justice Lima-Heights style. With the way I was feeling in that moment, I seriously didn't doubt that I could and would do it. My body was fucking buzzing with fury, but it was also humming with fear and unease. Just the fact that somebody could do that to another person, and not even care, not even be affected by it, made my skin crawl and my heart pound.
I just didn't understand how people could get like that? How do humans become monsters?
I mean, this guy was somebody's child, maybe somebody's brother, or nephew, or uncle, or husband, or even father. A new wave of chills ripped down my spine at that last thought, because lord help the kid being raised by someone as twisted as a man who saw no issue with violently raping a young woman and nearly stabbing her to death before leaving her bleeding and naked in a dark alley. Then again, people could be quite surprising. I'd seen enough cases on Law & Order to know that, a lot of the time, rapists were just regular guys with spouses and children and a typical nine-to-five. They took their kids to the park. They had anniversary dinners with their spouses. They watched sports with the guys, and had barbecues with the neighbors, but secretly enjoyed raping, torturing, or killing people on the side. It was the fucking freakiest thing.
Maybe this guy had a fucked-up childhood. Maybe his parents beat him, or maybe he grew up on the streets. Maybe his mind had been warped and turned violent by the bullshit that he'd been through in his life. Then again, maybe he was just one of those sick fucks that started killing and skinning cats by the time he was all of four years old.
Either way, I didn't think he deserved any kind of leniency for what he'd done to Rachel. Even if it turned out that the guy did suffer terribly as a kid or even as an adult, that doesn't excuse his choice to inflict similar torture on other people. What he did to her…it was a choice, a choice that he deserves to pay for.
I had been sitting at the desk, bouncing my knees and tapping my nails against the wood for close to ten minutes when the door of the room that the five men for the line-up had gone into opened, and each of them filed out in reverse order. I didn't want to look, because I didn't want to see him again, but I couldn't help myself. It was like when you pass a really bad car wreck on the side of the road. You don't want to see the carnage, but at the same time, you just can't stop yourself from glancing over at least once.
As soon as the guy holding the number four emerged from the room, his dark eyes locked onto me again, resulting in the same reaction I'd had earlier. My skin prickled uncomfortably, my stomached churned, and my chest grew tight and constricted. I couldn't fucking breathe with the way he was staring at me, watching me as if he was just dying to claim me or something.
The detective that was leading them had each of the men out of the room within a few seconds, so I didn't have to endure it for very long, but just those few seconds had been enough. I didn't think I'd ever be able to shake the image of his black eyes lingering over every part of me and staring straight into my soul. I was fucking terrified that that image would haunt me for the rest of my life, and just like his voice, and what he'd done to her, would haunt Rachel for the rest of hers.
Just as I was recovering from the chilling tremors still slightly racking my body, another door opened, and the detective emerged, pushing Rachel in her chair, and they were both followed by Rachel's substitute lawyer and the attacker's lawyer. My eyes instantly locked on Rachel, and my stomach just fucking dropped as I took in the state that she was in. Her entire body was shaking and her eyes were so wide that I was shocked they hadn't just completely popped out of her skull. Her hands were locked tightly together in her lap, so tightly that here knuckles were milky white and the veins on the back of her hands were prominent.
I rocketed out of the chair I'd been sitting in and crossed quickly over to Rachel, but she didn't seem to even notice me. I bent down and wrapped my arms around her, but she didn't return the embrace. She didn't sigh in relief or whisper my name. Instead, she just sat there in my arms, stiff and rigid as hell, and entirely unresponsive. And I was completely terrified. It wasn't that I didn't understand why she was like this, and I definitely knew that given what she'd just been through, this reaction was totally justified; it was just that if Rachel had receded into the dark place, I was terrified that I wasn't going to be able to bring her back out of it.
She had come such a long way even though every day, every minute, was still a struggle. I didn't want that struggle to increase, but I had a sinking feeling in my gut that it was going to. After what she'd had to listen to her attacker repeat in that room, the attack had to be new and fresh again in her mind and that was only going to cause her to plummet back into that fucking black hole that was constantly trying to pull her, pull both of us, into it. I hated it. I hated it so much that my hate was practically dancing on my skin in that moment.
I pulled out of the one-sided embrace and walked around behind Rachel's chair where I turned to the detective and whispered, "How'd it go?"
She didn't say anything, and honestly, I didn't even know if she was allowed to, but she did very subtly wink at me, and that was all I needed. Rachel had done well. She'd positively identified the right guy, and that meant that we had this shit in the bag.
"Rachel did very well," the detective said quietly.
"Great, so I can take her home now?" I asked, glancing back and forth between the detective and Rachel's substitute lawyer.
She nodded at me and said, "I will call you to let you know when the arraignment will be in case you and Rachel and her family would like to attend, and we will go from there. Okay?"
"Okay, thank you, Detective," I told her softly. She nodded and started to walk away, but I quickly grabbed her wrist to stop her, and when she turned back and locked eyes with me, I added, "For everything."
She placed her other hand on top of mine and squeezed it as she smiled at me and said, "You're very welcome." She then squeezed Rachel's shoulder affectionately, even though Rachel, of course, didn't even seem to notice, and then she headed back to another part of the station.
The lawyer guy told me that he would contact Rachel's dad with the details of everything and send him his notes and files, so that Hiram would be up-to-date on everything that had happened and would be happening, which I was thankful for. I thanked him and shook his hand before he left. Once he was gone, I grabbed the handles of Rachel's wheelchair and started pushing her toward the door, but then I noticed that it was dark outside, and the events of the day, paired with the fact that it was now night, were making me feel uneasy.
So, I quickly approached one of the detectives who was sitting at his desk, and it was a good few minutes before he even noticed me standing there. He swiped a hand down his face, and I could see dark circles under his eyes that made him look like he hadn't slept in over a week. He smiled tiredly at me and asked, "Do you need to speak to a detective, Miss?"
"No, sir," I answered, and I could feel my cheeks turning pink as I admitted, "the other detective said that we could go, but it's…it's dark now, and I was wondering if you or another detective could maybe go out with us to hail a cab and stay until we're all loaded up? Uh…please?"
I watched as his eyes darted down to Rachel and as soon as he looked at her, his tired eyes grew deep and sad, and I wondered just how many violated women he'd had to see in his career. There was no way that a career like that wouldn't wear on a person's soul, and I had so much respect for those detectives in that moment that I seriously could have hugged each and every one of them, which was saying something considering that outside of a VERY select and SMALL group of people, Santana Lopez did not hug.
He nodded and said, "Absolutely," and I breathed a sigh of relief. He pushed himself up out of his chair, grabbed his jacket, and fell into step at my side as we walked out the door and into the night.
Later that night, after we'd made it safely back to the loft, Rachel's state hadn't changed much at all. She was still frozen and silent, and entirely unresponsive to anything I said or did. It was really worrying me, because I'd seen Rachel frozen in shock at least once since the attack, but I had always been able to pull her out of it. My voice or my touch had always been enough to bring her back, but for some reason, it just wasn't enough this time. It was like I wasn't reaching her at all, and it simultaneously ignited fear in my cells while making me heart ache terribly in my chest.
Kurt and I tried to get her to talk, but she wouldn't, or she couldn't. It was pretty impossible to know which. I put her in bed when I realized that she wasn't going to come out of her daze anytime soon, and that seemed to be a pretty good move, because as soon as I helped her into the bed, she rolled onto her side and closed her eyes, saying nothing. Maybe she just wanted to sleep or shut out the world or something. Whatever it was, I got the very distinct feeling that she wanted to be alone, and though all I really wanted to do was hold her and talk to her and tell her that everything was going to be okay, I respected that she might just need some space to breathe. So, I simply dropped a kiss to her temple and went back to the living room to talk to Kurt.
He looked at me with tears in his eyes as I sat back down on the couch across from him, and I hated that look. I didn't want him to cry. I didn't want him to cry, because I was afraid that it would make me cry, and I was just so….so fucking tired of crying. It was like it was all I ever did anymore. I'd spent the last several weeks crying so much that I felt completely dry and sore and sick, and I didn't think I could handle any more tears.
What was worse was that I had actually had one of the best days of my life earlier that day with Rachel, touching her and kissing her and holding her and just laughing with her…everything. It felt so perfect, and then it all just goes to hell and blows up in our faces with one damn phone call. One phone call was all it took to remind us that the real world still existed outside that tiny bubble that we'd wrapped ourselves in for a few hours, that tiny bubble where Rachel and I were just two girls giggling and kissing and not giving a damn about anything else. But out in the real world, we weren't just two girls falling for each other. No, out in the real world, Rachel was a victim and I was a jaded hero just trying to keep her together. It all just felt so cruel and so painful, and I hated it.
"Do you think she'll be okay?" Kurt asked me quietly as he hugged tightly to a pillow that he'd squashed into his lap like he expected it to somehow hug him back and make him feel better.
"I hope so," I told him honestly.
He nodded absentmindedly before he asked another question. "So, I'm guessing that they got the right guy since she seems so…well, like that. What happened? Did she have to see him or something?"
"Yeah, it was the right guy," I answered, "and I don't know if Rachel had to actually see the guy, but I know she heard his voice. They made her do a voice line-up since he'd verbally threatened her the night of the attack, and…and they had each guy in the line-up say the same thing that the attacker said to her that night."
Kurt's eyes widened considerably before he asked me the question that I'd really been hoping he wouldn't ask. "What was it? What did he say to her?"
I sighed heavily as I felt those fucking frustrating tears building in my eyes and knew that there was no way I was going to be able to hold them back. "I don't know if each guy actually said the whole thing, but I know that they each had to say at least a portion of it," I told him as my voice cracked a bit, but whether it was from exhaustion or from the lump growing in my throat, I wasn't sure. "But what he actually said to her was, 'If you try to scream again, I'll kill you. If you fight me, I'll kill you. If you try to run, I'll kill you. Got it?'"
A single tear escaped my left eye and slid down the side of my face as I heard Kurt's small gasp followed by his soft, choked whimper. When I looked up and met his wide eyes, there were tears marring his cheeks and he had a pale hand cupped over his mouth. "I can't believe they made her go through that again," he whispered as he wiped at his cheeks.
I just nodded in agreement because my throat was way too fucking tight in that moment to even attempt to talk, and I quickly mimicked Kurt by grabbing the sofa pillow that was next to me and pulling it into my lap. I wrapped my arms tightly around it and buried my face in the top of it. When I inhaled, I realized that the pillow smelled exactly like Rachel, and that was when my tears just spilled over and I couldn't hold any of it in any longer as I cried silently into the pillow.
None of this felt right. None of it even felt real at times. It just seemed like I was living some kind of fucked-up nightmare most days, and I kept thinking…maybe I'll wake up soon, but then I never do.
I never do.