Super unedited. Sworry.



"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."

- Steve Jobs (Apple/Macintosh)

Mac's words were left aching in the air between them. She knew the truth hadn't settled in when his eyes searched hers for a denial. The time for her to explain was now and it needed to be quick before he shut her out. She opened her mouth to explain everything: how the sickness took everything out of his mother, how the meds made her feel numb all over and how the pain seemed to always seep through the pain-killer dosage. She wanted to explain how Pamela explained it to her, how she convinced her through the denials and fears; but her mouth went dry.

"This doesn't make sense." She watched his hair shift over his forehead hiding the crinkle in his forehead as he frowned. "She was in a coma before she passed. She couldn't have signed these."

Holding a hand to her chest, she took a deep stabilizing breath. "She wasn't in a coma. She was never in a coma. She lied. She didn't want anyone to talk her out of her choice."

She watched the color seep out of Mac's face. Pale and shaken, he opened his hands towards her as if he could stop her words with the gesture. The papers slipped from his hands scattering across the floor.

"I was her next of kin, I was the only one who had access to her charts and the only one she would let the doctor tell the truth to. I begged her to be honest. I swear I tried."

Mac's lips moved but no sound fluttered through. His lips were far past pale turning a sick shade of blue. When he tried again, his voice was low. "You tried?"

"How dare you keep this from us." Piper turned towards Susan, her form still crumpled on the floor. If those eyes didn't hold so much hate, Piper would have thought the old lady was broken and lifeless the way her legs spread out from her body. "I should have had our lawyer fight it when she gave you power of attorney. What was she thinking?"

Piper asked the same thing, but Pamela only gave her an amused smile and said that she trusted Piper's decision making. Concerned at her mother's silence, Piper looked around for her mother only to find her gone. Was it too much to ask for her to stay and defend her? She understood, more than anyone, how grave the situation was but she thought her mother would stand by her. Pressing her shaking hands to her thighs she faced Mac's family.

"Last March, Pam started researching about physician assisted suicide. Someone in her terminal illness support group brought it up and she wanted to explore her options." She watched Susan's eye flare up at the world 'options' but she stayed quieted. She tried to meet Mac's gaze, but his gaze was focused on the sheets of papers that lay at his feet. "She talked with other people in her group about what their choices were, she meet with family members of those who chose assisted suicide, she discussed in depth with doctors about the reaction she would have to the prescribed morphine and she listened to a priest preach about the beauty of courage, strength and life and she chose freedom. She wasn't afraid or bitter or angry she was just so tired and in so much pain. I wouldn't have agreed if she wasn't fully informed and if she didn't feel so strongly about it."

"If she felt so strongly about it, she would have told her fucking family." Now Mac's gaze hit hers, hard and unyielding. "She wouldn't have lied about being in a coma," his voice broke at the last word in disbelief, "and she would have told us. W-w-we would have talked about it together, as a family."

Piper was surprised her heart was still beating, she felt numb all over and her bones ached from the wait of everyone's stares and judgments. "She didn't want to have any doubts. She wanted to be sure." Piper wished Pam had written something to Mac to explain everything because Piper was doing a great job at butchering this.

Mac's face was still a deathly shade of pale and Piper wanted so badly to grab him water, juice something to shake him out of this faint state, but she wasn't confident in her ability to put one foot in front of the other. She could feel her heartbeat spike and she wished her mother would show up and tell everyone to go away and just hold her. She never asked her mother for anything after her father left, she became so fiercely independent that she never needed anything from anyone, but now she needed her mother's warmth and a parent's unconditional love.

"She was going to go though with it last December, but you guys found that clinical trial in Chicago and everyone seemed so hopeful that she promised to give it one more shot." She faced Mac. "She wanted to celebrate another birthday with you."

"She was miserable in Chicago." This came from Mac's grandfather. She had always respected him because he was able to deal with the like of Susan, but also because they shared a logical and analytical mind that Susan and Mac never understood.

Piper latched onto his consignment. "The process lasted for hours and she felt exhausted by the end of it. The trial's side effects weakened her fine motor functions. She needed help with daily living. She couldn't stand long enough to walk to the window in her room and her hands shook too much to take her own pills."

"We know how hard it was for her! We were there!" Susan's voice cranked up an octave at the idea that she wasn't aware of her daughter's pain.

"She hid her pain well. There would be days that she shit herself and was too ashamed and embarrassed to tell us and the staff at Chicago Medical was such shit that they would just pass the job off to different nurses that it would be days before someone helped her. She said she hated being less than she was. She said she hated where her sickness would take her. It would leave her useless and lifeless and force people to give up their life to cater to hers. She never wanted that."

She watched Mac's body tense. "She meant me."

With the help of her husband, Susan rose and walked over to hug Mac. Though he didn't raise his arms to return the gesture, she watched his eyes soften at her touch. Piper wrapped her arms around herself. In the distance, she heard a loud pop.

"I'm right aren't I? She knew I'd give up everything to take care of her." Mac voice wavered uncertainly, silently begging her to correct him.

"That's not why she—"

"Killed herself? You fucking liberal bitch." Susan spat her words at Piper's face. "You made this choice. You could have told her no. You gave into a delusional woman's whim. We could've gotten her help, but you took that choice away from us."

"She thought if you knew the truth, you wouldn't forgive me. I told her I didn't care, that she needed to let you say goodbye, but I think she was worried that you wouldn't forgive her." Piper didn't know what else to say. She wanted to explain it how Susan explained it to her, but every time she spoke Mac's family looked at her as if she were crazy.

Mac began to respond, but the movement near the hallway halted him. Piper's mother walked through the awning with two duffle bags. Piper froze. Not again. She still remembered the day her father left her family, if her mother left her too…

On feet she didn't feel, Piper ran to her mother. "Mom, please don't leave. I'm sorry. Please." The tears she held back during the inquisition came pouring out of her. She didn't care anymore, she would beg if it would stop everyone from leaving her. Her father, Gloria, Pamela, Mac. She couldn't handle losing the one person who's job was to love her unconditionally.

"These are yours. I called Victoria, she's willing to let you live there for the rest of the year." Her mother's words echoed in the silence. It took several minutes for Piper to process her mother's words. "After that… I don't know what…" Her mother took a deep breath, calming herself. "We'll see if you can get into the trust your father's grandfather set up for you. You can use that money for an apartment until college or contact your father's family."

"Mom." Piper took a step back. Her mother wasn't leaving her. She expected Piper to leave. To live with Casey and her mother, Victoria.

"Victoria is going to pick you up after her shift." There was no anger in her mother's voice, but the cold chilling tone hit Piper harder than Susan's backhand.

"I-I can call Casey to get me." Resigned, Piper just wanted to sleep and if it weren't in her own bed, Casey's would be the next choice.

Susan motioned to her husband to grab Piper's bags. "We'll take her." Piper was too exhausted to question why Susan would want to help her out in any form. Maybe she was just as shocked as Piper when her mother handed over her life in two duffle bags. "Mac, are you ready?"

"I'm going to stay here." Piper's eyes flew to her mother and watched as she nodded in agreement to Mac's choice.

She opened her mouth to scream fuck you but instead asked where her soccer ball was. Her mother motioned to her bag. Unzipping it, she froze at the sight of her deflated soccer ball. It looked as if someone slashed her prized possession. The aching need for her mother's love and approval burned in her chest as she stared at the punctured ball.


Piper vaguely remembered staggering into Casey's home with her keys. She dropped her bags at the foyer and crawled into her best friend's bed staring at the bright neon pink clock. It would be a couple hours until anyone would be home. Curling into a ball on top of a black and pink polka-dot comforter, Piper dreamt of a time seven months ago

As tears filled Piper's eyes, she glanced around the hospital room. Her eyes finally rested on the small woman in the hospital issued bed. Pamela looked tired and uncomfortable but for the first time in a year, but she looked happy. The transport back from Chicago was months ago and she was still trying to regain her energy from the journey, but Pamela looked happy.

Piper was terrified at Pamela's calm after the apocalypse that was Chicago Medical. The experimental trial pushed Pamela's prognosis up due to the complication with the medication. The drugs caused her to have a negative reaction where her skin separated from the underlying layer of skin causing the top layer to appear as if she were a burn victim. It was the last thing that Pamela wanted. As a vital and earthy woman, the aspect of being destroyed from the inside out by her disease wasn't something she would take on her back. So when they returned, she signed the written request for a physician assisted suicide and hadn't stopped smiling since.

Piper ran her hands over the rippled, puckered skin of Pam's hand. She waited until Pamela turned her hand over to grasp hers before speaking. "Maybe we should do this back at home?"

"I've been in and out of this place for the past 2 years." Pam squeezed her hand, sapping her energy by pulling Piper's hand to the middle of her chest. Pam's heart rate was faster than a normal rate, but Piper was used to the sound of the monitoring. The doctors offered some medical explanation but Piper felt it was just that Pamela had a larger than average heart than the normal person. She had such a capacity for love and compassion that Piper sometimes envied. Pamela shook her hand to get her attention. "This is my home now." Pamela held a faraway gaze and for a second her smile faltered. "I don't want to leave Mac with that memory in his home."

The mention of Mac caused a wedge between her loyalty among the Tosh family. Pamela refused to see her friends, her parents and even her son. After the complications at Chicago that left large welt-like burns across her body, she only wished for them to see her in her best. She wanted them to remember her healthier, beautiful and full of life. But still Piper tried. "I was thinking we could bring Mac in before—before—just before."

"No." Pamela looked admonished as if Piper told her she was backing out of the plan. "I explained how I wanted this. I wasn't unsure about my decision. That isn't what I wanted. I never want him to know. He wouldn't… You know he wouldn't understand. He's a fighter. I know you think everything comes so easily to him. Don't," Pamela demanded as Piper started to protest. "Since his father left, he put up this lackadaisical pretense that nothing could hurt him. It's what he wants people to think, but he has fought against my disease as if he could single handedly cure me. He's petitioned the health insurance for the clinical trail coverage, he's the one that sent in the application for the experimental drugs, and he emailed every doctor and research facility to see if there's anything to be done about my condition. He's a fighter."

"It doesn't mean that he won't understand. I know I didn't at first. What you suggested terrified me, but after meeting the family of those other patients, it changed my mind." Pamela had introduced her to other family members of patients that chose to end their life rather than succumb to their prognosis. The families described it as courageous, prideful and fearless. Pamela wanted to be in control of her own destiny. She wanted to leave the world on her terms.

"You are a different breed than my son, my little flute. He feels too deeply to think logically. He'll see this as giving up… giving in. Sometimes he's more of his father than I can bear." Pamela closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath. "I used to be the mother of a vivacious little boy that I would have to chase around the woods just to get him to take a bath, I helped raise a rational little girl that needed to make a pro-con list for every decision she made. I ran a household, a business and a family on my own. I never missed one of your games."

Piper squeezed Pamela's hand. She'd heard this speech many times before. She understood that Pamela felt so out of touch with her former self that the condition she was currently in wasn't a true reflection of who she was. She understood what Pamela was feeling more than the older woman knew. Gloria was getting more and more… invasive with her hazing and Piper didn't recognize the weak person in the mirror anymore. She just wanted to be in control again. Pamela just wanted her own power back. Piper understood.

"I know that being confided to this bed isn't how you saw yourself living out you—"

"—This isn't living!" Pamela exploded. Her body jerked at the force of her words. Turning her head, she began coughing and couldn't seem to stop. The skin on her neck tightened so forcefully that it aged her years with the appearance of wrinkles. The hand she rose to cover her mouth couldn't reach her mouth with the limited mobility she had in her right arm. It took several minutes for Pamela to catch her breath. "This isn't how I want to live."

With her free hand, Piper reached to clasped their joined hands bringing it to rest over Pamela's heart. "Did the doctor explain how it would feel?"

As Piper let the subject drop, Pamela let out a long sigh. "Yes. He said it will only be painful if I have an adverse reaction to the injection." Pamela laughed at Piper's gasp. "Sweetie, I'm used to pain. It's all I've dealt with these past years. I'm ready."

Piper jerked awake at the sound of a door opening. Not wanting to deal with Mac and his annoying requests, she snuggled deeper in her bed. For a second, she paused at the sight of pink sheets underneath her cheek. Risking it, she opened both eyes. This wasn't her bed. Quickly sitting up, she surveyed the room and her eyes took in Casey's room with her standing hesitantly in the doorway.

"I didn't mean to wake you." Casey seemed quiet and shy, traits Piper would never associate with her closest friend. Staying in the doorway, she rubbed the door handle bouncing from foot to foot. Confused, Piper shook her head to get the cobwebs out from her memory. The only thing she seemed to recall was the dream—well memory—of Pamela's last moments. It always left her groggy and out of commission for moments afterwards.

Like a volleyball being spiked her the face, recollection hit Piper.

They knew.

They knew Pamela was never in a coma, but planning her suicide in secret.

They knew that Piper was the one who support her in the decision and kept it from her family.

They knew Piper was the one who helped Pamela kill herself.

Without any control left in her, Piper couldn't help the way her face crumbled, her head falling into her hands. She felt the bed dip as Casey sat on the edge. "Your mom is talking to my mom."

Piper's head rose quickly. "She's here?" Her body moved to crawl out of the bed before Casey scooted closer shaking her head. "Oh."

"My mom has been on the phone with yours for the last hour trying to figure out what happened." Casey spoke slowly as if each word would cause Piper harm. The delay in her speech didn't slow the slick heat that spread across Piper's heart. She felt so hurt. "Is this about the thing you told me in the car? The thing that you thought made you a bad person?"

Like a child, Piper shrugged. She didn't want to talk about it. She didn't want to have that conversation ever again. She kept thinking about the look on Mac's face as he realized the truth. So she just shrugged.

"Do you want me to text Mac?"

Piper couldn't help the bitter laugh that slipped through her lips. "No, I'm fine."

"No you're not. I can tell. You don't have to tell me what happened, but you do have to tell me what you're feeling." Casey pulled out her lawyer stance even sitting on her bright pink sheets.

"Your house, your rules?" Piper finally lifted her head from her hands, plopping back onto the bed.

"Essentially." Nodding past the sarcasm, Casey crawled over to lie down shoulder to shoulder. As silence filled the room, Casey moved to hold Piper's hand in hers. The grip was tight and comforting and Piper couldn't hold back the tears that suddenly trickled down her cheeks.

"I-I don't even," Piper stopped and took a deep breath. She could do this; she was safe; no one would leave her. "I thought I could handle anything, I had prepared myself for this day. Some days I would practice what I would say to him if he would find out. If I could go against Gloria, I could go against anything. But I can't do this." Piper curled herself into her best friend. "I can't do this. I thought I would be able to face him. You should have seen his face. God, it was like she died all over again."

"You can tell me anything. If you need to tell me, don't think of it as breaking anyone's confidence." She felt a hand running down her hair, catching the fly-aways and flattening them against her hair.

"I convinced myself I did right by Pamela, but no matter what I say no one will believe me."

"I believe you."

Piper looked up in surprise from her spot between Casey's neck and shoulder to face the truth in her eyes. "You don't know what I did."

"I have known you the majority of my life. You are extremely loyal and fiercely protective of those that you love. You stood by me at every heartbreak when I swore off men knowing that it was just going to happen again two weeks later. You still follow our ten-year-old contract. It's why you won't say how hard Gloria was on you and why you won't tell me what happened that made your mother kick you out. I know you. If you thought it was right, then it was right. The only wrong decision you've made was that fake out during last year's Championship and the prom dress circe 2013."

The weight on her chest shifted most of its weight off her chest and it was a little easier to breathe. If she had Casey on her side, then she could make it through.

"I love you." Piper settled herself back in the crook of Casey's neck. Even in all of their differences, Casey involved in the school's yearbook and magazine and Piper with sports and Pamela, they always found their way back to each other. Hearing Casey take her side eased some of the pain away.

The hand was back to caressing her hair away from her face. "I don't remember the last time you said that to me."

"What? That I love you?" Confused, Piper shifted her gaze upwards.

"Yea. After Gloria took you under her wing, you became distant. Not so much at first, but you would flinch every time me or one of the girls touched you. You refused to go to the overnight lock-in the weekend before Christmas last year. You stopped tell me that you love me. I didn't realize it at first, because you were doing so great on the team and you said your grades were because of missing class. But after the Pepsi Center tournament, you were just different." Piper jerked her head up to head the catch in Casey's voice as she recounted the ways that Gloria broke her. It was hard to process what was happening to her while trying to carry the team and help Mac with Pamela. It was so overwhelming that she jus t wanted everything to go away. It wasn't the life that she envisioned for herself. She understood Pamela's plight more than she thought.

Piper didn't realize that the consequences of Gloria's actions spread further than her own difficulties with affection. It seeped into her friendship with Casey, her relationship with her teammates and into the decision to help Pamela in her deathbed wish. Taking a deep breath, Piper promised, "It was never that I didn't love you."

"I know that, silly. It's was just that we never use to have secrets. You didn't tell me when you started dating Will, what was going on with Gloria, and now this thing that is tearing you apart. I can't help you if you don't tell me anything." Casey's tone wasn't meant to invoke guilt, but Piper couldn't help the twinge of shame that ran along her heart.

Mac's dejected face flashed in her mind. Whether it was the right decision or not, she needed to take responsibility for keep everything to herself. That needed to start now. She lifted herself to rest against the headboard to give Casey her full attention. "I can't tell you about what happened with Mac and my mother," When she watched Casey's eyes fluttered down in disappointment, she knew that she needed to be honest with her best friend. "But, I want to tell you everything else."

And she did. Casey listened without judgment as Piper went through Gloria's mistreatment. Casey didn't say anything when she told about the first time Gloria stripped her bare in the locker room and picked out pockets of fat that Piper needed to lose, but she began crying as Piper described when Gloria directing touches became inappropriate then aggressive then violent the day of the Pepsi Center tournament. "I didn't mean to pull away. I just didn't understand what was happening to me. I was confused. I didn't want it, I swear I told her I didn't want it, but she was Gloria and I felt stupid for thinking that I could be under her mentoring for free."

Piper felt Casey's arm wrap around her and pull her closer to her. "That's fucking assault. It doesn't matter if she was Gloria the Goddess of all things sports. She had no right to do those things to you. You should tell someone."

Piper's spine lengthened as she went on the defensive. "Who am I supposed to tell? My mother?"

Casey's silence answered her question. "You can talk to my mom. She deals with that all the time."

"I'm not crazy." She didn't need to talk to a psychiatrist, she was taking the meds that the general physician prescribed; she wasn't crazy. She was hurt, she was tired and she was defeated, but she wasn't crazy.

"I know you aren't, but—"

"—I don't want to talk about this anymore."


"Seriously, stop it." Like a child, Piper crossed her arms and let her head fall back against the headboard. Before Casey could utter another word on the subject, Piper switched gears. "Did you hear anything about Lindy? I left my phone in Mac's car."

Casey rolled her eyes at the subject change. "Erin texted me that you weren't answering your phone. I told her you might be out of commission for a while."

"I'm fine. Give me your phone." Piper moved to crawl off the bed for Casey's purse. Kicking out her leg, Casey attempted to stop her.

"No, you need to chill. Take a break from making everyone else happy and focus on you. You just got kicked out of your house!"

"She's my junior," was Piper's only response. She was hurt and scared about what Mac's was thinking, but she wasn't going to spend her time wallowing in self-pity. She was going to deal. She needed to give Mac space and she needed a distraction.

Snagging her best friend's purse she found her rhinestone-dazzled phone. Scrolling down the contact list, Piper couldn't stop snickering at the organization of Casey's contacts. Names of their closest friends were accompanied with personalized emoticons. Ace was the first to pop up with the policeman emoticon. "Why does Ace get the Cop emoticon?"

"Remember Mac's 16th birthday where he requested strippers and Ace showed up in that cop outfit and gave Mac what he wanted?" Casey's scooted closer to see the screen and scrolled down the list explaining as she went. "Erin is the hair flip girl because she's always a diva. Frank got the guy, beer and pizza combo because no matter how shy he is, I know he's a frat-star-in-waiting. Gabe got the Asian guy, cause they're no black person emoticon and he's super smart. Haley got the dancing one because we all know her future is in the exotic dancing industry. The ex, Kyle, got the dog cause he's a little bitch. Lindy has the angel with the halo, self-explanatory. Mac has the crown because he saved his own number in my phone. You have the trophy followed by every sports ball they had even the Magic 8 Ball."

Having rested her head on Casey's shoulder during the listing of some of their friends, Piper sank into Casey's neck. Out of words, Piper cuddled her best friend happy that she was the perfect balance of silly to Piper's neuroticism. It hit her deep that Erin and Lindy were included in Casey's emoticon naming. Holding back her raw emotions, she just laughed and dialed Lindy's number. "You're ridiculous."

"You love me." Casey scooted down to rest her head on Piper's lap. Piper listened to the dialing tone as Casey's examined her nails. Rolling her eyes, Piper swatted down Casey's hands. Casey retaliated and swatted her back. Before she could get another lick in, the phone connection caught.

"Hey PC," Erin's voice rang through the call confusing Piper. There wasn't anyway to confuse an angel emoticon with the hair flip one.

"Where's Lindy?" Piper started to run her fingers through Casey's straighten hair.

"She's…um." She heard rustling in the background. "Well… she's…"

"Erin, put her on the phone." More rustling.

"Hi." Lindy's voice was low and timid. It was as if they went back in time before she made it on the team. She had gained so much confidence in such a short period of time being her junior, that it hurt Piper to hear her sound so weak and miserable.

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Sure." Silence ensued. Piper wasn't going to let her off this easy. She had been on the opposite side of the waiting tactic with Mac to know when to talk and when to listen. "I'm just so embarrassed. I didn't mean to cause a scene or push Mac. I don't know what I was thinking."

"It's okay. Mac's a big boy he can take it. I'm just worried about you." She thought back to the scars on Lindy's arms, the quiet way she held herself after the last game and then the way she exploded this morning.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize, just tell me what you're feeling." Piper felt Casey's eyes stare at her with an accusatory glint. It was a little two-faced that she expected Lindy to open up to her when she shut out her friends on the regular.

Making herself feel comfortable, she listened to Lindy open up. With the weight of her best friend on her lap, the heaviness of the security, she gave advice to her junior forgetting the morning all together.

A/N: Sorry for the shorter chapter, but the next scene was too long to put in this chapter! So heads up for moreeee! I want to thank everyone who have stayed with me since the beginning! And I want to welcome new readers! I love each and every review you guys send my way and you have no idea how much I appreciate them!

Trivia: Cmd-Opt-Shift-Delete empties the trash without the warning pop-up, kinda like what Piper did.