A/N: Sadly, my updates from last night weren't live today. I hope no one got too far in. I just updated them again, hopefully in half an hour those edits will be there.
As an apology- here's the next chapter two days early
I turned on my phone for a quick moment, finally giving in to the discomfort that was creeping up my spine. It felt weird, I had never batted an eye at disconnecting myself from the grid before, but now with Alys I felt the need to always have it on in case she called. She had a horrible habit of disappearing, and it was one I didn't want to happen again. Uneasiness that she needed me slipped through my concentration again. As my phone lit up, her name did in fact appear across my screen; she had called twice and sent one text an hour earlier.
[Are you doing okay? Just checking on you...]
She thought I was with my uncle, talking over the contract I would sign when we graduated in just a few weeks. I wasn't. I couldn't tell her the truth. I sighed before turning my phone back off. I slipped it into my pocket and leaned against the brick wall beside the street. I couldn't contact her now, I was almost done with this waiting game and soon I could return to her. As long as she was fine, I could finish this as quickly as possible.
The cold May air chilled my nose and small breaths rose with little clouds of moisture. Spring was almost over but it seemed the chilled rainy days were still upon us. I adjusted my hands in my pocket, squinting to the front of the building, trying to discern any movement beyond the tinted doors. An empty coffee-cup sat in the jeep beside me and my hands itched to toss back the vacant cup in hopes some coffee remained.
After another minute, those doors finally opened. My eyes focused instantly, my heart drumming heavily in my chest. Finally.
A man stepped out into view, almost outside but having to stop and talk with the persons who remained within the building. Still, his head swooped back towards the exit, casting a blank gaze to the outside world that seemed bright, perhaps strange to him. Those blue eyes scanned the world intently, taking in the sights they hadn't seen in a long time.
I felt my body losing its restraints suddenly, a hidden savage need to run forth and smash his head in. He really did look like her. And he didn't deserve that.
Alys' father looked back into the out-processing room behind him. A guard nodded his head, handed Anthony Westbrook another piece of paper about rehabilitation into the outside world; I could just barely hear their words echoing out the open doors. My fingers ground deeper into the sides of my arms as I watched him patiently.
He was tall, handsome. His hair was a bit darker blonde than Alys', perhaps a bit more golden while hers was paler. But their eyes were the same. Deep blue eyes that could see all easily. Deep blue eyes that could read expressions like open books. I could see it now. The way he presented himself to the shorter guard beside him allowed him to appear casual, easy going. He didn't intimidate anyone around him. In fact, those people seemed rather fond of him. Something inside of me snarled viscously as I watched the guard pat Anthony on the shoulder. I watched that smile that was given back, I watched the laughter that drew from his tongue, the grin and handshakes given around.
I watched the lie.
This was why Alys had once hated me and my manipulation of those around me.
Before me was a man who raped and beat his wife. Who beat and drowned his daughter as punishment for years...
Who was laughing and shaking hands with the guards and office-personal before him. "You'll do great, just stick to these programs, follow the laws, and make sure to keep up with your medicine." Someone said.
I almost smiled. I almost vomited.
None the less, I watched the lie.
Beneath Anthony's pleasant gaze was something sharp. There was no friendliness, no true bond in his eyes as he watched the guards next to him. The man merely smiled to the pats and laughter, reacting on cue to what was expected of him. I doubted he had any ill intentions or wishes for them, they were just mindless sheep. He had used them. And now he was done.
Anthony wanted out, I could see by the way he had his feet turned towards the door, the way he nodded and smiled but refused to engage anymore or strike up multiple word responses. These persons who had once had the authority over him, now sat powerless. He didn't need to sway them, he didn't need their attention or their fondness. He was free.
After another second, Anthony curtly interrupted the guard's heated talk about rehabilitation into modern society and all these help programs. As Anthony spoke, I tilted my head trying to listen to his words, but his voice was low and barely carried across the street. Whatever the guard replied back seemed to peak Anthony's attention.
I laughed slightly under my breath, knowing without ever hearing it what was said. Once again, Alys' father cast his gaze about to the outside world, but this time instead of observing... they were searching. That deep blue gaze met mine. He held my eyes in a blank absorption, only a second of surprise sweeping across his face, before it was covered into... something. Nothing.
It took a mere second more before his eyes changed again, his face transitioned in blank politeness, before he began walking my way. A uniformed lady at the front desk waved goodbye, but he never looked back.
I waited quietly, neither nodding my head or adjusting my position as he approached. Finally, he stood before me, clear eyes like his daughter staring quizzically at my presence, trying to read me, but seeming to fail with uncertainty.
"The correctional officer said someone was here to meet me. But I don't believe we've met before?" a quiet yet firm voice said.
"No, we haven't." I smiled deeply. The guards could see us from their windows. The camera could see us from above. If there's one thing I wanted, it was that camera. Look at me, I held Anthony's eyes, my smile seeming to split my face, look at me and know I will kill you in a heartbeat.
"I'm Alys' boyfriend." I said with that grin. I watched the moment of shock and confrontation slip across Anthony's face.
"Her... boyfriend." Of all things he was expecting, that was clearly not one of them. His eyes tracked my face, "My...what a big picture perfect family we've become."
My eyes widened. There it was, despite the parole and restraining orders, this man fully excepted to find his way back into their lives. At some point or another.
"We?" I asked, my voice sharp and deadly. "There's no we." I unfolded my arms and stepped forward, finishing the distance between this demon and I. "You drowned your own daughter in the bathtub," I whispered, "Held her under for so long she choked on water and stopped breathing. But silly me," my heated gaze burned into his skull, "You are mentally ill right? So poor you, you didn't know what you were doing."
Anthony's dark gaze held mine back, he was only a few inches taller than I. "But I do." I smiled now, chipper as could be as the cameras still recorded my every move from afar. "I will kill you if you ever try to get to them... either of them."
Anthony's fists were white as they dug into his skin, though his eyes were blank. "How presumptuous of you to assume I can't have you arrested for such threats."
Yet those blue eyes of his danced towards the building and then back to me. The guards there were still watching, smiling to themselves. One nodded his head realizing Anthony had looked back, causing Anthony to pause. He observed their expressions and realized what I had done. They could see my face... they could see my polite pleasantries. They wouldn't believe I had said a word of threat through these grinning teeth. The cameras themselves were recording my happy innocent persona. They would wonder about his sanity, even if just a bit.
"Remember that, Anthony." I whispered one last time, "If you ever come near my girl or her mother again, I will destroy you. Have a wonderful day." And I merrily waved at him before getting into my jeep.
He said nothing as I drove away, made no move to try and report me. He knew. Of course he knew. His whole life was based off of telling lies, and he hadn't missed the stage I had created just for him.
I wanted to break my knuckles through his teeth, feel the cartridge in his nose crack under my fists, beat that blank face to a bloody pulp, over and over again- knowing what he did to them, knowing how he told them only he could love them... that only he could love her.
But I'd lose her forever. So instead I smiled.
He had been warned. But the next time... He wasn't going to leave unscathed.
I texted Alys that I was on my way back to her house. She didn't respond. I stopped at a red light and pulled out my phone again. Pinching the bridge of my nose with my eyes squeezing shut, I let the dial tone ring again. Still no answer. "You are seriously getting a tracking device," I growled under my breath.
The light turned green and my jeep crept forward. My hands were too tight on the steering wheel, even I could see the whiteness in which my knuckles protruded. My phone dinged, she had finally responded. I waited until the next light before pulling up my phone again. She was at her house, she told me to give her twenty minutes though. I wondered if her mother was talking to her about something.
I didn't reply but just kept driving. After about ten minutes I pulled into her driveway and sent a text.
[just text me when I can come in, I'm in the driveway]
I pinched the bridge of my nose again, damming the headache that was blaring into my skull. It took all of my self-control to walk away from Anthony. It took every ounce of strength I had to not throw the jeep in reverse and hopefully kill him. He was never supposed to be a part of their new lives, by law he was required to stay away from them and never attempt contact. But something inside of me had to go. Something darker inside of me had to make sure his first breath of the outside air was also his first taste of reality. If he ever dared to break those laws and come to them... It wouldn't be the police he would deal with... it would be me.
What a big picture perfect family we have become...
I ground my jaw harder. Finally, I opened my eyes and tried to force my hands to loosen and relax, knowing in just a few minutes I would be in the presence of other people. Alys always watched my hands and it drove me up the wall. It was one of my only telltale traits of how I was really feeling, and she picked up on that easily.
But I also saw her comparing them to her own hands often, her raw and calloused fingers that I knew she hated. She'd stare at her hands in disgust before those eyes would trace to my fingers. I hated that she compared them to mine; acting like my hands were somehow less dangerous- somehow saner because they didn't have a Tourette. If only she knew what they had done and could do. But of course, she had no idea, because with only her... only for her, they were gentle.
When my fingers touched her, when I dragged them gently across her skin on "accident", she'd hesitate from working, red dusting her cheeks. She liked my touch but she didn't want to admit it. And I couldn't stop myself from brushing up against her skin or skimming her hands when we traded tools. I wanted to force her to admit she liked it, but she was stubborn.
I breathed out deep, suddenly a new wave of emotions pouring in with the headache. I flexed and relaxed my hands, ridding them of their tightness, but this time for a different reason. They ached and I looked at the clock instantly, noting only 5 mins had past.
I leaned my head back into the headrest and closed my eyes distracting myself from my earlier thoughts. After a minute or so I heard voices. I looked as Alys stepped outside the house. Her blue gaze skimmed the jeep before finding me inside. I opened the door and hopped out, before suddenly freezing. Tim walked out of the house too, he slung his arm around Alys' shoulders as he saluted sarcastically to whoever was still inside the house, presumably Julianna.
Without waiting for an invitation, I walked straight to them, smiling widely. "Hi Tim."
Surprised he looked away from the house. Something was different in the way he looked at me, he had ways been cordial and polite, but he could sense enough of my false pretenses to decide to stay away and do his own thing. But here he held my gaze curiously. I looked towards Alys and raised an eyebrow as my eyes most definitely skimmed the arm that was slung around her shoulders. She clearly could sense how I was feeling but rolled her eyes slightly. "Thanks Tim, but you can stop now. She's having a heart attack and I don't want anyone else to get... offended."
Tim grinned at that before looking back inside the house. This time I could see Julianna angrily narrow her eyes at Tim before stalking away. That piqued my interest, but not enough to forget the arm. I looked pointedly at Alys again. "You two dating now?" I asked dryly.
Something challenge-like sparked in her eyes, "Oh yes, he professed his undying love."
"Ha!" Tim snorted, "Well babe, last week you told me all you and Hayden do was draw each other in lewd poses instead of the mural. What kind of games we playing here?"
I crossed my arms and tilted my head at her. "Excuse me?"
She was beet-red and punched him slightly. "Jesus Tim." She hissed but he just grinned.
"You've also been telling people I keep you locked in the basement." I narrowed my eyes at her, "I think it's fair enough to say we need to have a discussion on what exactly our extracurricular actives really are, sweetheart. If I've been missing out on the real fun, I'd like to know."
At that she looked about to scream at both Tim and I. I smiled tauntingly, feeling some form of revenge at her embarrassment, before finding Tim's eyes again. He was watching me curiously. This time I knew why. No one ever saw me like this.
"Well, Alys." he finally said, giving me only a second more of observation, "What an interesting day this has been... I'll keep in touch." And he let go of her shoulder and began walking away.
"Thanks Tim," Alys whispered. He waved without looking back and got into a truck that was parked on the street. I tilted my head, why was he with her? Without meaning to my jaw ground in agitation, my mind picturing his arm holding her close to him. Alys realized I was still watching him go and so she grabbed my arm and dragged me inside.
"What did you guys do today?" I asked blankly.
"Nothing much," she lied. I could see it on her shoulders; the way they were tightened and narrowed. I could see it in her eyes, the way she refused to look me directly in the face. I wanted to be angry she wasn't telling me the truth, but suddenly I found myself distracted by something new. She hadn't batted an eye at Tim's arm slung around her. Yet... she glanced quietly to where she grasped my wrist pulling me forward, and I saw a small bite to her lip as she looked away and finally let go of my hand.
"Really?" I asked softly. Maybe my voice was too warm when said that, maybe I was too close behind her.
Large blue eyes turned and glanced up at me. Her blonde hair was disheveled today. Long locks twisted and curled wildly from having been out in the rain at some point today. I greedily watched her graceful face, greedily absorbed the way her nose gently sloped, the way her lips were slightly parted when they were normally in a frown. My left hand flexed slightly, fingers reaching out and skimming her arm. She inhaled a fraction of a breath, before suddenly she jumped at her mother's words.
"Dinners ready." Julianna said flatly. She watched me with narrowed eyes, much like she had watched Tim. But she clearly hated me more than she did him. "You aren't staying, right Hayden?"
"Very much so." I grinned tightly, knowing full well she interrupted us on purpose. My hands flexed again as Alys hastily dashed away from me, awkwardly tucking a blonde hair behind her ear, and murmuring about getting plates for us all. I followed her quietly, contenting myself to watch those emotions race across her face. If there was one thing I was good at, it was patience.
We set the table and Alys' mother brought out a roast. I sat beside Alys and away from her mother. "You should have brushed your hair..." Julianna murmured quietly to Alys. "Even if it's just him, you shouldn't look like a drowned rat because of today's rain storm."
"I think it's a good look for me," Alys raised her eyebrow, only halfheartedly teasing. They both seemed surprised for a second at each other, before finally both snorted and looked back towards their food. I hadn't known Alys for more than a few months... but even still I knew enough. They were never like this. Not before... both walked this world in their own versions of warped hatred and coping mechanisms.
Both stood before me, and the rest of the world for that matter, hating each other and hating the world. Julianna was stuck in a distorted mindset; don't show flaws, don't show weakness, don't show any cracks. Her daughter was a flaw, a weakness, a crack. Julianna had cut her away. I would never forgive her for that, but I also finally understood why she had done it.
I hadn't sensed it before, but knew now. She had been just as damaged as her daughter, though it wasn't an excuse for what she put Alys through. In leaving their abusive past behind, she refused to revel or dwell with any remains of it. And that's all her daughter ever was, just an echo of nightmares from her childhood. A wallflower who allowed herself to be voiceless... for the freedom of insanity that her pages allowed.
But something had changed, something inside them both... after all of these years... something finally connected. I couldn't understand how or what it was. I could never picture myself and my uncle... after all he did to me, ever finding even the semblance of relationship.
I suppose there was a reason we differed from them though. Juliana had one thing my uncle and I did not. A person who was capable of forgiving... who was capable of still loving the other, no matter how broken.
I watched Julianna again... you don't deserve her...
But then I realized detestably to myself, neither do I. Unfortunately for Alys... I was a horrible person. I was a greedy bastard. I was a monster. A better person would spare her and keep their distance. I wasn't a better person. I couldn't, wouldn't, let her go.
'Stop staring at my daughter." Julianna snapped. "Between you and Tim, I'm about to pack us up and move."
"Mom," Alys sighed.
"It's the bureau building," her mother interrupted, "I'm burning it down."
"Why would you burn down the bureau building.," I raised an impatient eyebrow at her.
"Why else" Julianna hissed. Alys shot to attention immediately and looked towards her mother in fear. "Mom should we make dessert?
But it was too late, Julianna snapped at me. "First, she walks there to meet you while you were with your uncle, then she comes home with Tim. His father is a wretched scandalous man, and his son is n-"
"Mother." Alys breathed determinedly, "Stop. I know... I know what happened with Tim's dad," Her eyes glanced warily to me, "I know you don't like them both but let's not discuss this here."
Julianna rolled her eyes, but mine were burning into Alys. She refused to look at me, and slowly Julianna and her daughter began to eat in silence. Slowly, bite after bite I ate my food, but I couldn't taste anything.
She knew I hadn't been with my uncle...
We began cleaning our dishes. Julianna left to take out the trash. I walked to the kitchen and began rinsing and washing the plates. I could sense more than hear her presence.
"Why haven't you asked me yet..." I whispered.
She was quiet for a moment. Finally, she said, "I don't have any right... I've kept things from you too," her hand held the other bruised one protectively, "Why would I think its fair for me to ask where you've been. Its... it's not like we are dating."
The plates in my hand clanked loudly as I dropped them into the sink, ignoring the faucet that was still running.
"Aw yes, we aren't. Silly me how could I forget," I turned and crossed my arms, leaning up against the sink. "No, we just do perverse things to each other apparently. Which I never seem to be conscious for or something as I have no memory of them, so I'd really like to change that now."
She blushed deeply, even if she was scowling. "It was a stupid joke I used against Tim, he was making fun of me when I explained how you were... different... now that I had met you. He teased me about it, so to make him uncomfortable, the story of just slipped out as revenge." She sighed and rubbed her neck.
"Oh I'm not complaining," I raised an eyebrow, "the more people think you're mine the better. I'm just trying to rectify the fact I haven't been around or conscious enough to partake in these fantasies of yours." I grinned.
Alys stared wide-eyed at my declaration and then she glared at me with a blush that crept up to the tips of her ears. "Very funny."
"Isn't it?" I murmured softly. I leaned off the countertop. "For someone who keeps declaring I'm not their boyfriend... you sure do act like you want me to be."
"Hayden, stop," she whispered nervously at my approaching presence.
"Stop what?" I said quietly. I stood right before her now. I was pleased to see her fingers were tightening and fidgeting too, and I knew it had nothing to do with her Tourette.
"Ask me where I was today?" I whispered softly. I didn't want to tell her. But I wouldn't let her think I was lying to her. She'd probably hate me, scream at me. But I wouldn't let her think I wanted to keep anything from her. If she asked, I'd tell her.
"No." she whispered stubbornly, looking at our feet and then the sink, 'Its not my business. It was something important enough you didn't want to tell me, so I'm not going to pry even if mom ratted me out for knowing you weren't with your uncle."
"Really? How admirable of you. But I won't be that admirable... Unlike you I won't pretend to not care where you were and what were you doing." Her blue eyes rose and met my grey, "Why were you with Tim?"
She bit her lip, which made my hands ache and tighten their fists even more. I ignored her mouth and held her gaze.
"You weren't there," she shrugged, "Tim was. There's nothing else to it. We talked to Karri on the phone too, but that's it."
"And he came over, despite knowing your mom hates him. A bit odd? " I whispered curiously, enjoying the fact she was breathing a little more unevenly as I stood so close to her.
"Are you jealous." She taunted unbelievably.
"What..." she froze unsure.
"Yes," I said again, "Unbearably jealous."
Alys stared wide-eyed into my eyes, her heart pounding, I could see her shoulders moving with unsure quick breaths.
"But yet, we're not dating," I whispered again, "which doesn't make sense to me. Admit it, you want me here. You want to kiss me."
"That's... that's not what's happening." she shook her head again angrily. My hand reached out and cupped her face, pulling it back to me.
'I'm very jealous right now," I said again, "I know you want to kiss me. But you wont. I know you want to touch me," my other hand slipped around her fingers and forced her to hold mine, "But you won't."
I could feel her pulse pounding under my fingertips, and all I wanted was to press my tongue against her jawline.
"Ask me to kiss you..." my voice was hoarser than I thought it would be.
I smiled achingly. She was biting her lip again. Deep blue eyes searched my face frantically.
"Ask me to be your boyfriend."
I leaned forward but stopped a few inches away from her face. My gaze found her eyes..."Then tell me to leave." I whispered softly, and her eyebrows creased unsure. My thumb gently traced along her cheek bone. I held her face so she could look me in the eyes. "You're not my puppet Alys." I told her soberly, "You are no one's. Tell me what you want and I'll do it."
Her fingers rose to my hands. She stared at me shocked and unsure but a tear slipped free from her eye. I wiped it away with my thumb and struggled to keep my hands from shaking.
"I don't know what I want..." she said truthfully, and my chest began to constrict. "I'm scared of us... of the future... but..." Her breathing hitched for a second before her fingers tightened and ground gently into my wrists. "I want you to kiss me."
It was all I needed. I pulled her face to mine and smashed my lips against hers. For the first time ever, she kissed me back. Truly kissed me back. My mind was a frenzy blur as a soft groan unintentionally left my throat, and I pushed her further back into the kitchen wall. Her heart was hammering, her breath fighting mine as I kissed and devoured her lips over and over again.
Julianna came inside from taking out the trash. "Alys?" she called to the empty dining room.
I could feel Alys freeze then squirm beneath me, but I didn't stop. I clamped my mouth back over hers, pushed my tongue past her lips, and battled her as she fought to get out of my hold in embarrassment. She squeaked angrily, but nothing was going to stop me now.
"Alys?" Julianna yelled agitated, not sure where her daughter was in the house. I pushed and prodded Alys backwards, gauging her mother's approach, fighting the daughter who despite trying to push me away was still kissing me back feverishly.
"I SWEAR TO GOD."
Alys bit my lip firmly, I broke away, and like the little shit she was she managed to skip out of my grasp and dart to the opening of the kitchen. I glared at her with molten eye, shoulders rising and falling raggedly as I fought to not just tackle her in front of her mother and get us both murdered. I waited just out of sight, ready to pull her back.
"The sinks been running, why are you screaming?" She asked breathlessly. I laughed. I should have given into temptation and used my mouth to mark her neck, let her try and talk her way out of that.
"Oh." Julianna said surprised. I could tell from where her voice was now she was at the bottom of the stairwell, ready to march to the top and kick in her daughter's room. I laughed dryly, eyes still watching Alys, and ran my tongue across my sore lip. I shouldn't like her biting as much as I did.
"Tim left this on the porch when he walked you out," Julianna sighed, setting something on the table. "Just don't visit the mayor's office again, I don't know exactly what you guys have asked him to look into- but I'm not going to tolerate any more investigation into child services and State laws."
Alys hissed at her mother instantly, stepping forward to grab whatever it was Julianna had before I could see it.
And I straightened instantly, hellbent on the girl in front of me.
A/N: Yay, we are finally resuming. Let me know what you guys think. It really means a lot to me.