A/N: I don't mention it in the story, but the main character is 16 now. That should give you some sort of time line. X-posted to my devArt page.

Hail Mary

The rain is coming down in sheets, and I'm sitting on my bed with the window open smoking a cigarette. It has more to do with me being able to hear the rain better than it does with the smoke having somewhere to go.

You're laying next to me on the comforter, your feet tucked behind my back. I shiver, and you ask if I'm cold. I say 'yes', and you just smile, 'cause you know that I'm a freak and that I like the harsh wind and rain pattering against the screen.

I hear a small, slow plastic noise from your side of the bed. You're tapping your fingernail against my wall. At first it's erratic, but soon you're tapping in time to the beat of the rain. I smile.

The abrupt ceasing of the melodious tap and your soft warm hand on the small of my back send electricity down my spine. "Gerti... I-" Your breath is harsh against my ear as I cut you off.

"Please don't do this." I'm panicked. I'm begging. Hail Mary, full of Grace. The Lord is with thee.

"Why?" Your voice is broken, like my heart four years ago. Sitting on cold stone steps. Waiting. I won't cry. I never cry anymore.

"Ash..." I stub out my cigarette in the rain water pooling in the window sill and it makes a hissing sound. My heart retracting into it's painful sheath. Ashley, the beautiful boy with the silly girl's name. The boy with the soft hands, and an even softer heart. My best friend.

"Gerti..." I swear I can actually feel you rolling your frustrated eyes. "We're practically already dating. Actually, I'm pretty sure we are dating, only without the kissing." You're trying to shove me out of myself through a laugh. You don't realize the nature of the beast; of my demons waiting to tear you limb from limb.

"I... can't."

I wait for the question to come like a death knell. Your hand is gone from me, and I feel it like a phantom limb.

"Why not?"

"'Cause I like you too much." It seems stupid. It is stupid, but it's true. The silence is explosive, and I'm burning in the aftermath. I've set us both on fire.

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

"Jesus Christ, Gertrude!" I can barely manage a flinch. Numb. Numb. Reach out, grip the window sill. Grip the pew 'til your knuckles are white. Remember. Forget. "Really? Is that all you've got?" Your anger is fading. I see it in the way you stand up, like you're bringing the weight of the world with you. "I'll never be good enough... will I?"

But you've got it so wrong. I can barely breathe. The wind is suffocating me. Stagnant air. Sharp pain and sour words that I can't say.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.

"Too good." There's so much rain outside. I should be happy. I'll destroy you if you let me get too close. Maybe I already have. "Please..."

I look up. You've already left.

This craziness inside my head swells and deflates, but doesn't recede. It never goes away. Echoes bounce off the walls of my room, escaping out the open window: Laugh. Cry. Bleed.