She vomited. Again and again and again until it became a fit of dry heaving, somehow making her feel sicker as she leaned back against the bathroom wall, and wiped her mouth. She'd been through this for almost a week now – waking up sweaty from her vibrant nightmares and running straight to the bathroom to throw up what little she had eaten the night before. Even when she didn't eat, her stomach still seemed to come up with new contents for her heave up the moment she awoke.
She pushed her hair back from her forehead, running a soft hand over her damp face. She could only image what she looked like, sitting on the bathroom floor wearing loose sweat pants, and a baggy T-shirt that accentuated the old, black bra she wore. She imagined what her hair looked like, damp and dirty, knotted from hours of sleeplessly tossing and turning in her bed. She imagined what her face looked like, pale from lack of sunlight, shiny and damp from her sweat, cheeks and eyes hallow, and lips colorless. She imagined what her body looked like, her skin the only thing separating her weak bones from meeting the air she was barely breathing. She pushed the thoughts away and slowly stood up, legs wobbly as though it were her first time walking. Then she saw herself in the mirror.
She'd come close – her imagination, that was – with the description of what she looked like, but somehow, everything seemed more severe in real life. The loose sweat pants were on the verge of falling off of her, the baggy T-shirt, one that used to be so tight fitting, appeared huge on her frame. Her hair was like a nest, so dirty and knotted that no one would ever suspect she had taken a shower the night before. Her face… God, her face.
Her eyes looked dead. The vibrant blue of her irises gone, replaced by an icy, blue and dead gaze. Purple circles shadowed her eyes, a hollowness shadowing her whole entire face. Her cheeks were too defined, her lips so pale they almost looked blue. As for her body… She was too-thin. She could tell even before she saw her arms by the look of how her clothing hung on her, but it hadn't sunk in until she saw the parts of her that were exposed. Her wrists were small – tiny, one might say – and red. They were covered in knife marks all the way up to the elbow, dark scabs forming in the most unappealing pattern. God, she was so… ugly.
She turned away from the mirror, no longer able to look at herself. She pushed the thought aside as much as she could, burying it deep in her mind and covering it up with memories and thoughts she could handle. Layers one might call them. Protective layers, if one wanted to get specific. But she didn't care what they were called, as long as she wasn't forced to think about the thing she'd decided to bury so deep. So, with her mind ignoring her body, she walked to her closet, pulling out the first things she saw that seemed semi-appropriate for that morning. For she was doing what she'd promised – the only thing she'd promised – to Jenny and Kendrick when they'd brought up the anniversary trip: she was going to therapy.
Going to group therapy was the last thing she had wanted to do. If anything, she wanted to get out of the city, feeling suddenly too aware of the familiar stares she'd been getting her whole life. And although the temptation was strong – strong enough for her to actually count the cash in her wallet to see how far away she could get from the city – she couldn't help but feel guilty at the same time as she thought of Jenny and Kendrick. The appeal of them leaving was still there, still a bright, burning ember that had dragged her to every therapist session she had gone to in those last few weeks, but the guilt that came with the thought of leaving them burned brighter. She didn't understand it, understand how them leaving her was fine, but her leaving them was so… wrong. Like leaving them would result in missing posters or more attempts at a trial they had no idea how far she'd go to prevent it.
She pushed the thought aside when the secretary, a frail, ghostly-looking woman with bold, red lips, motioned her to a meeting room in the back of the office. For such a sketchy sounding place, a "room in the back," it was fairly fancy; modern-design lighting, expensive leather chairs turned into a spacey circle, a view of the city taking over the entire wall in front of her and a monochrome color scheme. She didn't mind it, the room that was, but she didn't like it either. If anything, she was neutral on the atmosphere of the room; that was, until everyone started talking.
She slumped in her chair when she sat down, the only way she could think of making herself appear smaller, less tall, less noticeable, less recognizable if she ever decided to come again. She'd been to two of these things so far, the first one acting as almost an initiation to the therapy group, and a forum for every question on the planet, the second a practical hazing ritual where the members of the group eyed her with such hate when they took in her old, cheap jeans, fake jewelry, and lack of makeup. It wasn't any better when she sat down, noting how everyone in the group took their turns looking over her, inspecting her from head to toe until they found something worthy of judging her on – which didn't take very long considering how sick she felt.
"I want to start off congratulating Kelly today on her progress," Dr. Jessica Cassidy started, her introduction as short as her stature. Despite her height, Dr. Cassidy wad fierce, her auburn eyes as wild, if not more, than the mess of bright red curls that framed her face and brushed her shoulders. It was easy to tell how much she loved color, not only with her distracting pens and colorful binders, but also with the way she dressed, how, along with the professional gray pencil skirt she always seemed to be wearing, there was always something unnatural; a bright, bulky necklace or scarf or ruby red shoes that look too much like the pair from the original The Wizard of Oz. "Kelly, would you like to tell the group about your progress?"
Kelly, a thirty-something-year-old, with unnatural blonde hair, lit up at the question, only backing up the way Dr. Cassidy treated her like a five-year-old. "Thank you, Jessica," she said as thought the doctor wasn't her therapist, but her best friend. With a flick of her hand and a smile of too-white, straight teeth, she spoke. "I'm engaged!" The gasps were like a bad movie, the women around her ogling the ring like it was a canteen of water in the Sahara. If she hadn't had felt so sick, she'd probably have laughed, giving her the pleasure of seeing Kelly's ridiculously Botoxed face attempt an emotion.
"Roxanne," Dr. Cassidy's voice rang out, snapping her out of her phase. She looked up, not expecting everyone to be looking at her like such when the red-haired therapist spoke her name. She could see the reasons in Dr. Cassidy's eyes, the reasons for calling on her, her voice almost telepathically telling her to say something. It felt too much like school, like all those times she had dozed off in class or wasn't interested in paying attention, or decided that she'd play The Rebel that day, each one of those times that she had been called on, expected to summarize what the teacher had said or what they had watched or what the discussion had been about, and utterly failing to the point of detention. But, in this case, the consequence wasn't detention, but even more hatred from the rest of the "Sexual Assault Therapy" group.
"Uh," she started off, her voice cracking with lack of use and her throat as dry as her Sahara metaphor. "Congratulations," was all she could come up with off the top of her head, and although she refrained from making eye contact with Kelly and the rest of the doctor's New-York-City-rich clients, she could tell that they hated her; were judging her, in fact, for everything she stood for, before deciding to completely ignore her. Dr. Cassidy didn't say anything, probably entertained by the reactions of the group, including herself, like people were watching a lion taking down an injured gazelle. Not that she was the injured gazelle. Or the lion.
She glanced up at the clock, suddenly feeling the strange need to vomit and cry at the same time as she noted that there was still over fifty-five minutes left in the session. As the conversation around Kelly continued, the congratulations and excitement slowly dying off as the announcement got old, she took a breath. She was not attending group therapy when Jenny and Kendrick left.
He knew what his mother said. He listened to her talk all night about the dangers of letting Roxanne get too comfortable with him – how they got to the subject of him possibly sleeping with his nineteen-year-old client, he didn't remember, but none-the-less was the most awkward conversation he'd had with his mother since the famous Talk. He supposed his mother was right, getting close to Roxanne was just a mess waiting to happen, but how else was he supposed to do his job? He couldn't exactly be rational with the young woman. She was too stubborn and uneducated to understand that they had to act fast, or the prosecution would never receive enough evidence to convict the bastard. He set aside the thought as the elevator door opened, revealing the twenty-third floor he remembered too-well.
The walls had been redone, the old, white, chipped paint now a smooth beige, the room redecorated, no longer consisting of flower-printed furniture and wood tables, but classy black chairs and metal and glass tables with a modern look to them – much more professional than the '90s vibe that had engulfed the place a little more than ten years ago. This time, he glanced at his watch, watching as the minute hand got closer to the twelve. With so much time before noon, he decided to sit down, rubbing the back of his neck as he pulled out his phone, glancing at all the messages he'd missed on the elevator ride alone. Xander Wyman, one message was labeled. Vic Greene, Clement Abbey, Seth Rier. Jenny Shelton.
A sudden fear and worry boiled in his chest as he opened up the message, noting the professional style Mrs. Shelton had wrote it in. For a text, it was too formal, more so than even the emails they'd been exchanging, her telling him about Roxanne's progress, hinting things he didn't understand and was probably guessing wrong. His eyes scanned the text briefly before reading it.
My husband and I want to apologize for any stress we have caused you. We didn't expect Roxanne to be so against a trial, so unyielding to the idea. Whether or not we decide to take our trip will no longer be on your shoulders. Unlike the idea of our trip, we've decided against going to court for Roxanne's sake. The stress that it's caused her is unlike anything else, and right now, all we want to do is help her get better. Therefore, we will no longer be seeking your services. We thank you very much for all the time and effort you've put into preparing the trial. We're sorry that it didn't work out, but I suppose it was just a matter of time before we realized that a trial just isn't for us.
Thank you, again, and the best of luck in your cases.
Mr. and Mrs. Kendrick Shelton.
He couldn't believe it. The Shelton's were firing him? Roxanne wasn't getting her case? They were no longer talking to him? Were they pulling Roxanne out of therapy – that therapy – because he was related it?
The questions, which had previously flooded his head, disappeared when he looked up, his attention on the people who were now leaving the office. There were maybe eight of them, all upper-class New Yorkers, a few looking like they'd had one too many surgeries. She was not one of them, though, that was easy to see. The light washed jeans with holes in the knees, the gray, knitted sweater that looked oversized on her too-small frame, the mess of blonde waves that were tied atop her head, and not to mention the multiple tiny gold hoops adorning her ears. She was nothing like the other women in the group, clad in skirts and jewelry that cost more than his silver cufflinks – and those were pretty expensive. She stood out, he noticed, and maybe, to other people it was in a bad way, standing out for wearing cheap clothes and a depressed look – God, that look – but to him, in his eyes, the way she stood out was almost good; different, unique, special, someone who didn't give a damn about the social cues or standards or such.
He knew how he sounded. Infatuated, Kala would've called it if she had heard him say such a thing. Infatuated with a girl who made twenty-thousand a year, killed people for a living, and was so mentally scarred from her time in Afghanistan that God probably didn't even know whether she'd ever recover from that. But it wasn't like that – infatuation – it was more of a curiosity that wouldn't die out, a flame that just got brighter and brighter every time he looked at his emails or his mother, went to church, or lied in bed knowing that he'd done nothing to avenge the bastard – bastard, that's what he called him because not even the Shelton's knew the name of the man who had raped her. Did Roxanne even know his name?
He jumped up a bit too fast, watching Roxanne's head turn towards him with a speed he didn't even know existed. His throat went suddenly dry as he looked into her hallow eyes. The bright blue he'd seen when they'd first met, and even after that, was gone, replaced by a dull blue color that bordered on gray. The dark circles underneath her eyes caused alarm in him, too, the paleness of her face, and lack of physical emotion even more so. He didn't know what scared him more – looking at her now – whether it'd be the fact that the Shelton's were still contemplating leaving for Rio for two weeks, or the fact that only God knew what she'd do if they did.
"Great," she said, her low, almost-weak voice snapping him out of the daze he was in as he stared at her. "I have the same fucking therapist as my lawyer. Let's bring that up in court, see how the jury likes knowing that the plaintiff and prosecution is fucked up enough to see a therapist regularly. That'll definitely help us win, along with the fact that you're going to have to drag my fucking ass to that courtroom, because I'm not going in there willingly."
Her sarcasm brought a little light to her eyes, but as soon as she stopped talking, that spark he'd seen disappeared again, making him stare into a set of almost dead eyes as they avoided direct eye contact. "We need to talk about your case," he found himself saying, suddenly not wanting to admit that he was no longer her lawyer. He didn't want to admit, either, that he felt inclined to bring that light back to her eyes. The guilt he felt as he thought back to the bright blue iris' he'd seen that day at dinner, how his mouth had sent her running out of the door and disappearing to the point that Captain Shelton – Mr. Shelton – was ready to send out his entire police force to find her, that guilt pained him, even more so looking at her now.
"Mrs. Shelton did inform you that we were to have lunch, today, right?" He found himself making up on the spot, his lie perfectly spotless, as usual. She gave him a strange, ambiguous look – a mix of confusion, question, pain, and maybe even a bit of curiosity. There was no spark in her eyes when she met his, no comment, no sound, no clear look. A pain occurred in his stomach, but he ignored it as he continued. "Well, we should go soon. Knowing The Shelton's, they'll probably want you back before dinner." She just stared at him, the dull, dead eyes still as she stared at him. He recognized how strange his comment seemed. Before dinner? Like she'd want to be out that long with him. He didn't understand why it had hurt, hearing her call him "her lawyer." That was what he was, wasn't he? Not Mr. Emerson – thank God – like the Shelton's called him, not Emerson or E like the people at his law firm, not even Emery, for God's sake, like his parents, friends, some co-workers, and everyone else that didn't fit in the other categories.
"Fine," she said in an even softer voice than she had used before. He caught his thoughts before they flew out the window – something they usually did every time he heard that sad and soft feminine voice of hers, that voice that screamed "help me" more than it did "Marines." Silently, he nodded, giving her a forced smile despite the sick feeling he had in his stomach as he thought of him. Not the bastard without a face or a name, he was easier to ignore as he knew practically nothing about him. No. He was thinking of his father, the man with the face and the name who'd done the equivalent to Kala as the bastard had done to Roxanne. He forced himself to push the thoughts aside as he quickly followed Roxanne to the elevator, noting the way she refused to make eye contact with him when she had nothing to say. The doors closed, leaving them at opposite sides of the moving box, the conversation as dead as the eyes he couldn't forget he had stared into. He swallowed. Maybe Kala was right – maybe this was a big mistake. Whether or not it was, he'd find out soon enough.
His expression was pained. Every time he looked at her, it was as if he were staring into the eyes of a dead, abused animal – fragile, pathetic, weak, worthless. Whatever had compelled her into agreeing to go to lunch with him had to have been because of that expression, that look. It had to have been. Any other reason would've been ridiculous and stupid, illogical and, well, stupid. So there she was, sitting in a too-fancy restaurant wearing probably the shittiest clothes she had, while sitting across from a man who wore a suit like a celebrity. Hell, they'd even been seated in the back, probably to hide the "dead, abused animal" from most eyes so he wouldn't be judged for eating with someone so uncouth-looking.
Without a window to look out of, she distracted herself with the white, cloth napkin, folding it into the tightest square she could before deciding to try origami – which she failed at. All the while, he just stared at her, watching her like that fucking therapist did, like she was his own personal entertainment or a humorous child who didn't know better than to fiddle with everything around them for their own entertainment. She supposed that was what she got, folding the restaurant's napkins as though she could really turn them into origami swans.
"So," he started, his voice always as confident as his posture. "How was therapy?" She stopped mid-fold, the wing looking nothing like it was supposed to, but that wasn't the issue. What he seriously asking her about therapy? Her lawyer, who shared the same therapist, asking her about her own sessions? Her sessions that revolved around questions about her history, her family, the reason she enlisted in the military, every single bloody detail she remembered about that night in Afghanistan, details that she couldn't even get right anymore – her sessions, those were hers, not his. He could talk all he wanted to Dr. Cassidy about his fucked up clients, and how he hated when his pocket square was crooked or his tie was too tight or too loose or when he lost his quarter-of-a-million dollar cufflink his law firm had bought him when had won a stupid case, but her session – her sessions – that was not for him to know about. That was not his to talk about.
"I thought we were supposed to be talking about the trial you're going to have to drag my ass too, not the fucked up stories that deranged therapist reels out of me every Goddamn session I have to sit down for." Already, she felt like she had said too much. She didn't bother looking up at him, especially seeing how wide his eyes had gotten from the corners of her own. She listened to him as he cleared his throat, her fingers playing with the napkin again, pretending to be more interested in the masterpiece before her rather than what he had to say.
"That was my attempt at an ice breaker, just so you know. A bad one, on my part. Obviously." There was a sort of emotion in his voice that she didn't understand. It wasn't humor, humility or otherwise. Wasn't a joke, something to laugh about, or a mistake. Was is… guilt? Guilt didn't make sense, though. Why would he feel guilty for asking her a question he'd think to be an ice breaker? Confused, she pushed it aside, keeping her eyes focused on the entertainment before her, though her head focused on the man before her.
"I need a name," he said after a moment, and this time, she couldn't ignore him. The wing of the bird fell to the table, a lost cause as she looked up to meet his bright, green eyes. Every time she saw them she couldn't help but wonder if they were fake. If he was wearing contacts or something like such to enhance the saturation of his eyes, to enhance his eyes to become as vibrant as they were. They seemed too unnatural for them to be real, like cartoon eyes almost, something you'd see in an animated movie. But the speck of brown in the lower left corner of his right iris made them real, unique, different – not that the color itself wasn't unique or real or different, because they were. Her eyes went behind him, her brain trying to focus on anything but his unique-colored eyes, as she thought back to what he had said.
I need a name. A name. She knew what that meant. He wanted his name. Him. The man who had put her where she was now, begging a lawyer not to take her case, not to put her in a court room with a man who the government had flown all the way from Afghanistan, if he was still there, which he probably was – at least she hoped. She met that bright green gaze again, trying her best to seem relaxed in a setting that she was definitely not relaxed in.
"A name? That's vague, but let me see what I can come up with," she said, putting as much humor as she could muster without throwing up into her words. "Should we start with American names first or should we just throw out some weird-ass Middle Eastern names, because I know a lot of those. Too many, actually, though most of them would be names of distance cousins of mine, if you can believe it." Her acting skills were fairly good considering the pressure she felt staring into his eyes. His face stayed neutral, a hard thing for him to do, apparently, as she watched his bright eyes darken a bit in response.
"You know what I mean, Roxanne." It was strange, hearing her name on his tongue. He'd said it before, that one time he'd asked her out for dinner, probably at the hands of Jenny who'd been more than aware of her change in demeanor, but while her name then was cautious on his tongue, her name now wasn't. It was almost harsh, some of his tones, but at the same time it was soft, familiar, something that made him seem like he didn't view her as the abused animal his expression told her, not as a client or a Marine or a person who couldn't go three hours without vomiting or cutting herself or wishing she had some alcohol to numb herself to the panic attacks she had every so often, but almost as if she were a… friend?
"I need to go," she said as quickly as she stood up – too quickly, that was. She swayed on her feet, the lack of food she hadn't been consuming taking its toll on her. His – Emery's – hand was on her arm in an instant, but as soon as she steadied herself, she yanked her arm out of his grip with a strength she didn't even know she had.
"At least eat first, you don't look well," he said from behind her as she pulled on her jacket. His voice was filled with worry, a sound that made her feel guilty and weak at the same time, and as much as she wanted to turn around and agree that she didn't look or feel well and that she did need food, the thought of leaving before he touched her again or talked to her as though he knew her – which he didn't – was overpowering, enough so that before he could say anything else, she was gone, so close to the door that she could practically feel the late winter breeze right in front of her.
"Roxanne!" Damn his long legs, she thought, pushing herself out into the cold, and turning on her heels at a speed she hadn't felt in a while. She could hear the steps behind her getting closer and closer as she walked – almost ran – out of the restaurant. She shrieked as a strong grip pulled her back, his hands on her upper arms and face close – too close – to her own. "Roxanne…"
The pent up anger she'd felt underneath all the uncaring nothingness came to life when she pushed him away, surprised by how far he stumbled back. "Leave me alone," was the only thing she could muster as she turned away and speed-walked down the block. She focused on her feet, on her steps. It was the only thing she could do to forget that pain that had been written all over Emery's face.
He had his answer. Getting home that night, he didn't bother telling Kala. She already knew, probably because all of his guilt and pain of watching Roxanne walk away was written all over his face.
It was only a matter of time before the true guilt came to life. That look she had given him when he had grabbed her hadn't quick sunk in, yet. Fear. He'd never seen anyone look at him like that. His clients, maybe. Actually, with his clients, a lot, but with them, they seemed used to it, relaxed almost during trials and transportation, but with him… God. He shouldn't have done it, touched her in any way. It was an innocent touch, a mere grab of her arms to stop her from running into a pole or a bicyclist or a person or injuring herself in any manner, or even just letting her get away without explaining himself.
Explaining himself. He didn't even know what he had done wrong. He merely asked for a name, politely, in fact, refraining from letting his lawyer-self use intimidation on the young woman in fear that she'd do just that – run away from him like she did. There was no point to explaining himself when there was nothing for him to explain, yet that was what he told himself as he fell into bed, ignoring Kala's questions as he retired for the night.
That look. He couldn't get it out of his head. He was so… stupid. Why in God's name did he decide that physical force was a good idea on Roxanne? The sheer touch when he tried stabilizing her at the table probably set her off, the memory of whatever had happened back in Afghanistan probably flashing through her mind at the speed of light, triggering her into fight or flight mode, and picking the easiest way out. And her speed… For such a frail woman, her speed was insanity. Her adrenaline so powerful that she could've knocked him to the ground on that sidewalk if she had really wanted to.
He wanted to put the thoughts aside, at least for the night, like he had every other time he thought of her – push it aside, watch some shitty court TV show or read a book that wasn't about the law – but he knew that wouldn't happen tonight, not with Roxanne's face stuck in his mind, burned into his memory, the pure, unadulterated fear coating her entire expression to the point where his stomach didn't just drop to his feet, it dropped and fell out of his damn body.
He tried distracting himself by little things at first. The way he loosened his tie, yanking it from his neck as though it were suffocating him. The way he hung his suit jacket on the opposite side of his closet to tell him that he needed to get that one dry cleaned. The way he shined his shoes before putting them away, making sure they didn't quite touch each other in a way that could leave scratches. The way he delicately took off his cufflinks, placing them in their designated spots in the box in his closet, hanging up his pocket square next to them in such a precise order. The way his belt was hung beside them as well, followed by his vest, which went on the dry-cleaning side, and his button-up, and then his pants. His socks, his undershirt, everything was changed, and soon enough he was like everyone else in a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt that did surprisingly a lot to cover up the lean muscle underneath.
He knew that his mind would never leave Roxanne; it hadn't even as he had changed for the night. But, despite that, he tried, crawling into his bed and turning on the television he'd only bought because of Kala's stay. He shifted, again and again, the guilt never going away, even with the television playing something fairly interesting. That face. He didn't know how long it would haunt him – that face and that fear – but although it felt like torment, he supposed he deserved it. After all, he failed Roxanne to the point that the Shelton's had even given up on the trial.
But maybe it was meant to be – everything that had happened that day – maybe it had happened for a purpose. Maybe the Shelton's giving up was a sign for him to work harder, maybe Roxanne's expression and fear was a sign for him to win the case, to work harder, to make Roxanne feel better when the bastard was behind bars and soon-to-be dead. Maybe it was a good thing. Or maybe it was just failure.
The fresh cuts on her arm bled through her sweater. No. It bled into her sweater, the gray yarn or wool or whatever the hell it was red with her fresh blood.
She'd already eaten dinner with Jenny and Kendrick, and although they wanted to keep her there for the night, knowing that they'd miss her for a reason she couldn't possibly understand, she'd gone home – if she could really call her pathetic apartment that. The privacy was nice, the ability to press the knife to her skin so freely almost relaxing as she didn't have to worry about someone seeing her or finding her bloody shirts strewn across her bedroom floor.
But it wasn't just her bloody clothes that she had to be aware of now. The frequentness of her vomiting was almost alarming, and despite looking it up and finding the causes, there was nothing that made her feel any better about it. She had already known everything the internet had told her – the reasons why she was vomiting, and why so frequently – but the idea of having Jenny and Kendrick find out was the equivalent of showing them her scars. It included an immediate trip to the ER, which she wasn't at all interested in.
The hot water of the bath stung her cuts, but she was too entertained by the sight of her own blood swirling around the clear water to even care. She didn't think it was beautiful – disgusting, actually, the sight of her sometimes dark, sometimes bright blood. The metal-like smell was even worse, reminding her of the hell she had endured during some of the raid back in Afghanistan. The sight was more… interesting. The way the blood mixed with the water to become lighter, yet sometimes staying together for a short period of time to become darker. Even the sight of the red liquid floating out of her arm interested her, swirling around her fingers and spreading throughout the water, some going to her feet, and some going to her hair.
She had a sudden craving for wine. Not a white wine or champagne or anything remotely fancy for a night spent in the tub, but a dark, red wine, sweet yet bitter on her tongue, like the metallic scent of her blood mixed with relieving pain of the hot water in her open wound. But while wine wasn't available, her concoction was, a cup of tea infused with an overpowering amount of cinnamon and parsley, a disgusting taste, but necessary in her mind if it worked.
She sighed, swallowing the entire concoction as quickly as she could, ignoring the taste on her tongue, replacing it with the memory of the wine she wished she had as she coughed. A few more cups to go, she thought to herself, thinking back to the kettle of tea that sat in her kitchen. That could wait though, was her thought as she took a deep breath and let herself become swallowed by the now-bloody water. The heat stung her face, her eyes and cheek, equal to the amount it had her cuts. She relaxed, finally, feeling good for once at the pain it gave her. And while before she had pushed out every thought she had of Emery and what had happened today, she let the memories back in, the thoughts and ideas and fear; everything, she let back in. While she'd never have friends, she knew at least one thing she could rely on, and as bad as it sounded, it was the only thing that was really there for her when she needed it. So while people judged her for her cheap clothes or ugly haircut, she could rely on pain. Pain would be always be there for her; Pain would always be her friend.