Chapter seven: Give Unto Me
I ran. My heart slammed in my chest and my feet pounded against the pavement. I could hear his footsteps behind me. He was right on my heels. I pushed myself harder, forcing myself into a sprint. My legs began to ache from the exertion and my head hurt like hell. His footsteps began to grow quieter, but they we're always there, always echoing in my mind.
I veered off into an alley but stopped short when a chain-link fence cut off my escape. His footsteps grew louder. I jumped onto the fence and began to climb it. My hands had wrapped around the bar at the top when I felt his hands on my ankles. He was pulling me down. I cried for help and kicked blindly, feeling my foot connect with bone. He grunted in pain but his grip around my ankles never faltered. My hands dragged across the jagged ends of the fence as he tugged me to the ground.
He shoved me onto the pavement, stuffing a dirty cloth in my mouth as I screamed. He turned me over onto my stomach and sat on my rear. I felt him yank my shorts and underwear down around my ankles-
Emily awoke with a shriek. She stood and fumbled for the light switch. She hit it and the room filled with a garish orange glow. The window was still dark and her clock read two-fifty AM. She sank to the floor and pushed her hands through her hair, rocking back and forth. Tears streamed down her face and Emily didn't try to dry them; she just let them roll. Emily considered going to Danny's room again, but she didn't feel like being around a man. She thought of Tessa and decided to go there. Hopefully her friend was still awake.
She opened her door and made her way down the hall, glancing over her shoulder every now and again. She also kept an eye out for orderlies doing their late-night checks. Every time she heard footsteps, her heart began to pound and she would quicken her pace. She reached Tessa's room within ten minutes. She knocked on the door but there was no answer. In the dimly lit hallway Emily could see Tessa's bedroom light filter out underneath the door. She knocked again, harder this time. Still no reply.
Emily tried the doorknob, and to her relief, it was unlocked. She pushed it open and saw Tessa sitting on the floor with her back facing her. She moved closer, whispering her name. She noticed the razor first. Her pace began to quicken. Then she saw the blood, the carved wrists, Tessa's closed eyelids.
"Oh my God!" She screamed, and knelt in her friend's blood. She took Tessa's bleeding wrist. She knew she had to get help.
"Tessa, just hold on. I'll be right back!" She stood and began to race from the room. She ran into an orderly right down the hall. He took one look at the blood on her hands and called for security on his walkie-talkie.
"Wait!" Emily gasped as he began to slowly back away from her, obviously thinking she had hurt someone. "You have to help me. My friend's dying! Please! She hurt herself, please!" The tears came again.
They'd rushed Tessa off to the hospital by the institution and left Emily sobbing in the hallway by her friend's room. Her hands were still covered in Tessa's blood and she hadn't felt the need to wash it off. She'd helped the orderlies lift Tessa onto the stretcher on had gotten more blood on her front side. She was still sitting my Tessa's room crying when Danny came out of his room at nine. He was walking down the hall towards the dining hall when he spotted Emily.
"Em." He breathed, taking in the sight of her. "Why are you covered in blood?"
"It isn't mine," She met his eyes. "It's Tessa's,"
"Oh, my God. What happened?" he knelt by her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She burrowed her head into his neck and breathed in the scent of him before talking.
"She cut herself. I had a nightmare and felt that I couldn't be alone or around a man so I went to Tessa's room and found her bleeding out on her bedroom floor," Emily sobbed. "They thought I hurt her. They thought I…" She trailed off.
"But you didn't. You saved her. It's okay, Em. You saved her life," He whispered in a soothing tone. "Shh… She'll be alright. I'm sure of it,"
"But what if she isn't? What if I didn't get to her fast enough?" She asked quietly.
"Then…" He stopped, and Emily thought he'd forgot what he was going to say.
"Then we never forget about her." He said, nuzzling his cheek against the top of her head.
They stayed in each other's arms for at least fifteen minutes until Emily finally began to stand.
"I need to shower." She said.
Danny had walked Emily to the showers and had left her there by her request instead waiting for her outside. He made his way to the Sitting Room where he found David reading a book. He watched his brother for a moment before making himself known. He wondered how a man as seemingly gentle and kind and forgiving as his brother could murder his parents and uncle in cold blood.
I guess you never know what people are hiding behind a smile, he thought as he approached David. Danny imagined what he would do if he told him he knew what he'd done. Would he kill him too? Hit him? Turn himself in? Explain why he did it? Or would he deny it, like most serial killers?
"Hey, Danny, there you are. I was wondering where everyone was," David gave him a lopsided smile when he saw his brother. Danny just gazed at him, lost in his thoughts.
"There something wrong?" David asked slowly, his brow furrowed.
Danny was torn. He couldn't decide if he should just tell David that he knew, or if he should let him live in his pretend fantasy world a little longer.
"No. No, nothing's wrong," Danny shook his head and took a seat next to his brother.
"Okay," David said slowly. "You just seem a little off,"
Danny stared at the wall in front of him before processing that his brother had said something. He turned to look at him. "What?"
"Nothing. So, um, how are you?"
"No. I mean the schizophrenia. Has Dr…."
"Has Dr. Collins given you an update about your illness?"
"No," Danny lied and lowered his head. The news that he was getting worse was something he wanted to share with the whole group.
"Well, that's good," David paused. "Hey, can I ask you something about Tessa?"
"Oh, my God, Tessa! I completely forgot…" Danny trailed off.
"I-I don't know," Danny looked at his brother, his expression confused.
"Of all the moments for your schizo to kick in…" David trailed off, cursing quietly.
Danny suddenly sat up straight. "I remember!" Danny's eyes were wide and fearful.
"What happened?" David's voice was filled with concern.
"Emily found Tessa this morning, bleeding out in her room. I guess she had a depression-attack or something, 'cause she reopened her scars," Danny explained.
"Oh, my…God. Is she going to be okay?"
"We really have no way of finding out," Danny shrugged and shook his head.
"Well, why not?"
"She's at the hospital down the street, and we're not allowed to go there. Or anywhere, really."
"I can go and find out." David suggested.
Danny looked at him. He studied his eyes, his facial expression, his body language. David seemed genuinely concerned and afraid for Tessa's well-being. He nodded. "Okay."
David strolled up to the front desk with his hands in his pockets. The nurse manning the desk was young and slightly attractive. Getting Tessa's information and room number should be easy, David thought as he approached the young nurse.
"Hi, I'm looking for a patient," He flashed his best smile, and the nurse instantly rewarded him with an equally flirtatious smile.
"Name?" She poised her fingers over the computer's keyboard.
"Tessa…" He paused, trying to recall her last name. He'd only heard it once or twice. "H-Hanson," He stammered.
"Hanson…" The nurse mumbled, typing the name in and going through the hospital's database. "Are you family?" She glanced at him while she scrolled.
"Yeah. I'm her uncle." He told her without missing a beat.
The nurse nodded. "She's stabilized in the Children's Ward. Room 114,"
"What floor is that?"
"Third." She twisted a strand of hair around her finger.
"Thank you." He gave her another flirty smile and a wink. The nurse blushed. He made his way from the desk and to the elevators. He pressed the 'three' button and the doors began to close. A voice called to David to 'hold the doors', and he did. They were an inch from cutting off his fingers when he slid them in between the doors. He pulled them open and a boy jogged into the elevator.
"Thanks mate," He said, slightly out of breath. His accent sounded foreign. Not British, but not Irish or Scottish either.
"Uh-huh." David's brow furrowed as he watched the kid. He looked familiar.
"Are you here to see Tessa, too?" The boy asked.
Then it clicked. He was the Australian boy who hung out with Tessa.
"How do you know about Tessa?"
"I saw them wheel her out. And I know you because I see you with her and her friends all the time,"
"They let you out?" David asked. "I thought you guys weren't allowed to go anywhere,"
"You mean the Florence Institution patients?"
"Yeah, I'm not one."
"What?" David repeated.
"I'm not a patient there. Dr. Rhyne – a psychiatrist who works there – was my regular therapist until he accepted is job at FMI. He still pencils me in because of my problems."
David was silent. He'd wanted to be alone with Tessa, not with her and this adolescent dweeb. He huffed angrily.
"Hey, um, do you mind coming back another time? I really just wanted to spend time with my…niece…alone," David paused. "I'm sure you understand,"
"Yeah, sure. I'll just go back down to the lobby, I guess, and come back after you leave." The boy nodded.
"What's your name?"
"Ashton. And you?"
"David." They shook hands. "Thank you, Ashton."
When David entered Tessa's private room, the lighting was dim and the drapes were pulled across the window. The heart monitor beeped slowly but constantly, an assuring sign that she was still alive. He approached her quietly, careful not to wake her, and pulled a chair up to the bedside. He grasped her hand gently and turned it over. Sure enough, her wrist was bandaged and a few small lines of red were bleeding through the gauze. She stirred, but didn't wake.
"Oh, Tessa. Why do we do these things to ourselves?" David whispered, fingering the pill bottle in his pocket. "Why do we hurt ourselves over nothing?" He opened it and stared at the multicolored pills.
He put the bottle back in his pocket and held her hand for many minutes. A nurse came in a few times, just to check Tessa's stability, and left without asking any questions. He rubbed his thumb over the back of Tessa's hand while she slept. He eventually nodded off and fell asleep.
Tessa's eyes opened, and the first thing she saw was David's face. A smile cracked across her lips and she whispered his name. His eyes fluttered, and they landed on hers.
"Tessa," he said quietly.
"Thank you for being here," Her voice wavered.
"No problem." His grip on her hand tightened.
They lapsed into a comfortable silence.
"I saw them," Her voice cracked when she spoke.
"My brother. His killer."
"In my dreams. At the cemetery. In my head." She groaned and pressed her fists to her temple. "I hate this," She sobbed. "I hate him. I hate myself. I hate my parents…" She trailed off.
"Is that why you opened your scars?"
She nodded, but didn't move her hands or reply in any other way.
"Tessa. Please. Look at me,"
"Don't do this to yourself. Please,"
"I don't have anything to live for anymore," She whimpered.
"Yes, you do. You do. What about your other brother? Patrick."
"Oh, sure. My brother, who hasn't spoken to me since Tristian's funeral." She swiped at the tears in her eyes.
"Or Danny. Emily." He paused. "Or me," He finished quietly.
Her gaze softened.
"You need to keep on living for us. So that one day, when you're all better and healed and happy, you can tell everyone about what you went through, but that you made it through. About how strong you were, how you never gave in. How you forgot your sorrows and just lost yourself in your friendships. Don't hurt yourself. That only makes it worse. Those scars-" He gestured to her wrist. "Are just a reminder of the memory of your brother's death, of his killer, of that whole goddamn experience. So cover them up. But not for anyone else, but for you. So you can forget, forgive his killer and yourself, and move on,"
She watched him, and tears began to spill onto her cheeks again.
"Why do you always know just what to say?" She croaked.
"Because I've been here before," He told her. "Tessa, can I tell you something?"
He sighed nervously. He'd never felt this way towards someone before. Especially someone as young as Tessa. He'd wanted to tell her ever since he saw her with Ashton, but had put it off due to fear. He guessed now was a good time.
"Lately… I've been feeling… Something akin to-" He was cut off by the sound of the door opening. David swiveled in the chair to face whoever interrupted him. A tall man - he looked about in his early twenties – stood in the doorway. He filled the entire frame.
"Tessa," He sighed in a deep pitch.
"What-what-what-what-what're you…" She stammered, a look of confusion crossed her features.
"They called me and told me you were here. I guess when mom and dad put you in the institution, they put me as your emergency contact," David assumed this man was Tessa's older brother, Patrick.
"So… You came all the way here from Santa Cruz?" Tessa's brow furrowed as the man bent over to kiss her on the forehead. He glanced at David and then did a double-take as if he was just noticing the man sitting by his sister's bedside holding her hand.
"Yeah. Who's this?" He nodded at David.
"I'm David," he rose and held out his hand.
"Patrick. Tessa's brother,"
"I figured." David shoved his hands in his pockets and remained standing.
Patrick nodded, and they fell into an uncomfortable silence.
"What did the school say?" Tessa cleared her throat and broke the silence first.
"They gave me a week off. The dean said he completely understood our situation, but since finals are coming up, he couldn't give me any more than that," Patrick said.
"I'm surprised he gave you that much." Tessa remarked.
"Yeah, me too." Patrick gave a small smile.
"So, listen. I'm gonna take off," David said awkwardly.
"Wait. What did you wanna tell me?" Tessa called after him as he turned to leave.
"Uh," David glanced at her brother. "Nothing. It can wait."
"Come here for a sec," Tessa held her arms out as if inviting him in for a hug.
He hesitated before leaning over her and into her embrace. He inhaled and caught a whiff of her shampoo. It was orange scented. It comforted him.
"Thank you. So much." She whispered in his ear before pressing her lips against his cheek.
"So? How is she?" Emily asked David that evening in the sitting room.
"She's stabilized. Her brother came to see her while I was there." David told her and Danny, who nodded.
"Good," Danny sighed.
"God." Emily closed her eyes and leaned her head back.
"What?" David's brow furrowed.
"I feel like something bad's about to happen."
"Why?" Danny implored.
"I dunno. I just do. It's something that involves all of us." Emily's gaze flicked between the two men, who looked at each other.
"Like what?" David urged her on.
"Like... Like a death, or a fatal injury or something. I dunno. I feel like it mostly involves you two." She pointed to David and Danny.
"So, what? You're psychic now?" David scoffed.
"More so than you, bitch." Emily smirked.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I'm sorry to say that this story is put on hiatus for the duration due to summer school and too much homework. Sorry! Please review! :D