Title: A Long Road to Salvation: The First Step Is the Hardest
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 18 December 2010
Rating: PG13 (bad language, mentions of domestic violence, implied sexual situations)
Word Count: 5737
Summary: Is hiding your true self worth it in the end?
Season/Spoilers: Season 1: and Season 2: Furt
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW10
Author's Disclaimer: I don’t own them… if I did the girls would kiss on the lips not just the boys. This story is not intended for profit but simply to test my ability to create something I am happy with and that others might enjoy. Glee and its characters are the property of Ryan Murphy and Fox Broadcasting Company. No infringement intended.
Author's Notes: This story is for all of the Pezberry fans out there. This is my OTP and I feel both girls are getting a bum rap on the show. The only way to remedy that is through fiction and so I give you my take on these two complex characters. I want to turn this into a verse and hope to continue this story line.
It was a perfect YouTube-worthy wedding march as the Glee kids settled in on either side of the aisle. In lieu of prayers the bride and groom chose to simply speak from their hearts. Burt Hummel was going first and he started off by addressing his son Kurt, apologizing for not being as present as he could have been after the loss of Kurt’s mother.
Most of the young man’s glee-mates had never really considered the fact that Kurt grew up without a mother, nor had they thought about the fact that Finn grew up without a father. Quinn had not only been thrown out by her father while her mother did nothing but she had become a mother herself, if only for a few short moments, before relinquishing that title and her child to someone else.
That last thought struck Santana particularly hard as she recalled throwing that fact in the blonde Cheerio’s face when they had their altercation in the halls of McKinley not long ago. It was definitely a low blow and when she had time to cool off she actually felt bad about going there, but she never apologized to Quinn.
“There she is, go get her.” Mister Hummel continued, gazing at his soon to be wife. “You’re everything, Carole. Words can’t describe you, you’re everything and I will love you till the day I die.”
Santana believed him when he said those words, believed that love was possible because she was witnessing it first-hand. She wondered – not for the first time – if she would ever have that, a love so strong it takes your breath away.
If anyone had been looking at Santana at that moment they would have seen such a look of sorrow and vulnerability on her face. They would have noticed the shine of unshed tears in her eyes, and they would have witnessed the Latina’s impressive ability to shove those emotions away.
As it happened someone had in fact seen all of this, a tiny diva with her hair in an up-do stood across the aisle and clutched at the bouquets in her hand as she watched the dark-haired Cheerio struggle for composure. Rachel could hardly believe her eyes as she watched every ounce of emotion drain from the Latina’s face as it hardened into her usual stoic countenance. But she had seen the emotions and she couldn’t unsee them, and even though they were not exactly friends she felt a pang of empathy for the girl.
Rachel found Santana to be an enigma, a baffling, beautiful, bad ass that infuriated her as much as she intrigued her. They had come to an odd sort of agreement last year after the egging incident.
Everyone was in Glee and there was no sign of Rachel, which was unheard of for the brunette. No one seemed to know where she was, but then Brittany suddenly turned to Santana and said that she should go and find Rachel. Santana looked at the blonde as if she had lost her mind, but Brittany had a far-away look in her eyes and Santana simply left in search of the irritating brunette.
She was cursing the diva as she made her way out to the side parking lot. “All right RuPaul, where the hell are you? I don’t have all…” She stopped in mid sentence at the sight before her. “Oh, no, what the hell!” Santana moved toward the figure huddled on the ground in a pile of broken eggshells.
“Rachel?” She called out softly as she approached the shivering girl. “Hey Rachel, why don’t we go get you cleaned up.” She gently touched the brunette’s arm and slowly pulled her to her feet. She could not believe how unresponsive the usually vibrant young girl was and she was seething at the thought of someone being so cruel. She was too busy being angry to realize that she herself was responsible for some of the cruelty the girl has had to endure.
Santana guided the small brunette toward the side entrance to the locker room, sitting her down near the sinks as she went to her locker to get her toiletries and a towel. Returning quickly she couldn’t help but notice the vacant look in the young girl’s eyes. “Okay, let’s get your hair cleaned up.” She moved the chair with the girl still in it and placed it against one of the sinks. “Can you lean back into the sink?” She asked as she turned on the water and spoke softly to the girl the entire time as she washed her hair.
Santana pulled Rachel’s jacket off and dropped it into the sink to soak while she brushed the girl’s hair. The small brunette was still completely unresponsive and Santana knew she had to get her to snap out of it – for her own sake and because Santana needed to know who did this. She knelt in front of Rachel and took her hands in her own tugging gently to try and gain the girl’s attention.
“Hey Rachel, I need you to talk to me so I know you’re gonna be okay. Can you do that for me?” She squeezed the brunette’s hands a little harder and that seemed to get through as the once vacant eyes suddenly widened and filled with tears. These same tears started to stream from the young girls eyes and she took a huge gasping breath.
It was at that moment that Santana recognized something in Rachel’s eyes; something that brought her back to a time and place she’d somehow forgotten. The young Latina shook her head to try and dispel the anger that was building within her once again – only this time she was equally angry with herself. She was pulled from her introspection when the tiny diva flew, sobbing into her arms.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay. I’ve got you.” Santana cooed into the trembling girl’s ear. “No one is going to hurt you again, including me. Especially me.” Santana pulled the girl closer stroking her back and rocking her gently. “I’m so sorry Rachel, for the way I’ve treated you.” The Latina let her own tears fall as she continued to comfort the sobbing girl.
It was unclear how much time had passed before Rachel stopped trembling. She was trying hard to process just how she came to be sitting on the floor of the locker room in someone’s arms. She also wondered why she wasn’t more frightened since she wasn’t at all aware of who exactly was holding her, but she knew that it felt safe and warm.
As her mind began to clear she recalled the events that had transpired earlier, recalled the call from Jesse, running to him in the parking lot and the utter humiliation of getting egged by Vocal Adrenaline. Followed by the ultimate humiliation of having Jesse walk up to her and crack that final egg, feeling it run down her face as she watched him walk away. She remembered listening to the laughter of the others as she waited for them to drive off before collapsing to the ground.
Everything was a blank after that. She had absolutely no recollection of how she got here or who was comforting her. Did this person find her and bring her here? Her hair and face felt clean and she was no longer wearing her egg-covered jacket. Did this person clean her up without her even realizing it? Whoever this was she must trust them enough to have allowed this to happen.
She needed to know who her savior was and so she pulled back and looked up into sad brown eyes that also showed evidence of crying. When she pulled further back she found herself face to face with possibly the last person she would have guessed.
“Santana?” Rachel was even more confused now, “What happened? Why are you here? Not that I’m not grateful, because I certainly am, but I am not sure what has transpired nor how I arrived at this location in this position – particularly with you.”
Santana couldn’t help but grin at the normally annoying rambling of the tiny brunette; it meant that she must be feeling better. The problem was, Santana wasn’t really sure how to answer the brunette’s questions, and she hadn’t really sorted it all out herself yet.
“I found you in the parking lot and brought you in here to clean up. You were really out of it and you had me worried for a bit.” Santana snickered at the shocked look on Rachel’s face. “I know what you’re thinking Berry, and I’m not sure I know how to answer you yet. I can tell you that I will personally take down whoever it was that did this to you.”
Rachel could never be sure, but she had a sneaking suspicion that Jesse St. James’ sudden string of bad luck may have had something to do with a certain Latina, but Santana would never confirm or deny the allegations. The pair had finally managed to have a conversation about the egging incident a few days after the fact. Santana had sent Rachel a text asking if she could stop over her house to talk. The brunette was completely perplexed by this seeing as she didn’t know Santana had her number and although it was true that the dark haired girl was a bit less caustic with her remarks of late, she couldn’t help but be somewhat suspicious of the Cheerio’s intent.
“Well, I’ll never know if I don’t take a chance.” The diva stated as she replied in the affirmative, including her address and brief directions as well. A short time later she received another text informing her that the Latina would be there in fifteen minutes. Rachel spent the time tidying her room and trying her best to keep her nerves at bay. Before long there was a knock on her door and the brunette hurried to answer it.
“Hello Santana.” Rachel greeted “Please come in.”
The Cheerio didn’t return the greeting as she walked in to the Berry home. She looked around, surprised at how normal the place was. She had no idea why she was so nervous and it was making her antsy, so she decided to get right to the point.
“Berry.” She finally acknowledged the diva “I want to make sure we’re on the same page after that whole egging thing.” The Latina started to pace as she continued. “Crap, this is harder than I thought.” She stated as she ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. “Look, when I was little my parents had a big party with the whole family and at some point I was sent to bed. I really didn’t want to go so I hid at the top of the stairs so I could still see what was going on.”
Rachel was listening intently to the tale trying to determine how it applied to their situation. She saw that the Latina was struggling and decided to give her a reprieve. “Santana, would you like to sit in the living room? I can also provide you with a beverage as well.”
Santana nodded, grateful for the opportunity to gather her thoughts. “Water would be great.” She asked as she sat on the chair facing the sofa.
“All right, would you like anything to eat? I’m not sure what we have, but…” Rachel noticed the Latina shaking her head indicating that she did not require anything other than water and so the diva quickly retrieved a couple of bottles. Rachel handed the water to Santana and took a seat on the sofa across from her waiting quietly for the dark haired girl to continue.
“Like I said, I was sitting at the top of the stairs just watching and listening to all the grown-ups when my cousin Lena came running up the stairs. I was scared she would catch me and tell my Mamá so I jumped back into the room behind me to hide.” Santana was fidgeting with the water bottle as she chose her words carefully. “I peeked out to see where she was and that’s when I saw her boyfriend come up the stairs. I was like nine so I got that they probably came up here to kiss or something. At the time I thought that was gross, so I didn’t really want to see it.” Santana became very still for a moment shutting her eyes tightly before she stood and began to pace. “I was gonna try to sneak into my bedroom because I was getting bored. When I crept past the room they were in I heard a sound, like when my Papá watched boxing on Thursday nights. I looked into the room and saw my cousin doubled over and gasping for air while her boyfriend was pulling her hair and yelling at her.” The Latina stopped pacing as her body began to tremble with emotion.
Rachel sensed the dark haired girls struggle and moved to her side placing a hand gently on her shoulder. “Take your time, Santana, or, if you’d prefer to discontinue this conversation and renew it at a later time that would be fine as well.”
Some of the anger had drained from the Latina at both the statement and the gentle touch of the girl standing next to her. “You are truly one of a kind, Berry.” Santana chuckled lightly at the tiny divas statement. “A simple we can do this later would have been fine. But, I have to do this so you’ll understand where I’m coming from.” Taking a deep breath she continued. “I guess I was shocked and didn’t really understand what was happening. All I knew was that he shouldn’t be hurting my cousin, so I screamed and jumped on his back to make him stop. Someone must have heard me because suddenly there were voices shouting and then I was flying.” Santana paused to take a deep drink of water before finishing her tale. “I woke up in my bed with everyone looking down on me. It freaked me out a little and my Mamá made them all leave. Turns out the guy tossed me into the wall and I got knocked out for a bit.”
Rachel gasped upon hearing this. “Oh, Santana…”
The Latina held up her hand to stop the brunette from continuing. “It was probably for the best. I found out later that my uncles beat the shit out of the guy while my aunts told my cousin she should never let anyone treat her that way.” The dark haired girl shook her head as she remembered the events of that night and the days after. “My parents were proud of me but they also wanted me to know that it is not always safe to rush into those situations. They said that I should have run downstairs and gotten an adult to help me.”
Rachel reached out the Cheerio, placing her hand on her arm once again. “They were right Santana, but I do understand why you did what you did. You are very protective of those you care for and more than willing to sacrifice your own well being to ensure theirs. It’s an admirable quality.”
Santana just looked at the girl standing in front of her; looked into the deep chocolate eyes that held nothing but understanding, and she was overcome with guilt for the way she treated her in the past. Tears welled in her eyes and she fought them with everything she had, because she knew if they started they’d never stop. “Rachel, I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness for the way I’ve treated you but I promise to stop, and I will get everyone else to fall in line.”
“It’s all right Santana, it’s what you needed to do to be popular, I get that and I understand.”
“How! How can you stand there and tell me you understand why I was such a bitch to you?” The Latina was starting to lose the fight against her tears as a few began to run down her face. “No, it’s not right! I promised myself I would never let anybody treat me or anyone I care about that way, but what I forgot to add was that I would never be the asshole who’s doing the abusing.”
“You’re not like that, Santana.”
“Yes I am! I’ve been abusive to you for years, Rachel. I never raised a hand to you but what I did is just as bad, maybe even worse. I called you names, made fun of your clothes, pissed all over your dreams and even though you act like it doesn’t affect you I can see that it does. All the slushies and crap from everyone else, especially Quinn, is taking its toll on you.”
Rachel started to object but Santana stopped her. “Don’t try to tell me it isn’t true. I can see that look in your eyes, the same look that was in my cousins eyes and I hate myself for being one of the reasons it’s there.” And with that, the floodgates opened and the dark haired girl found herself enveloped in a warm embrace.
It was odd going for weeks without a slushy facial or untoward comment thrown at her and Rachel worried when the other shoe would drop. She never told a soul about the heart-to-heart she’d had with Santana and the Latina had kept her promise to stop the mistreatment of the tiny diva, but Rachel knew it wouldn’t last. She understood that she made herself an easy target because she never let on just how much things got to her. She wasn’t all that different than her tormentors in that regard, putting up walls and building defenses but in very different ways. Rachel didn’t let anyone in while Santana and Quinn did all they could to keep people out. And so it was right before Sectionals when Rachel assumed that she and Finn would have the solo that things began to unravel for the brunette.
Mr. Schue was giving the solo to Quinn and Sam while Rachel and Finn would be relegated to the chorus, and when she expressed her displeasure with Ken and Barbie getting the leads Quinn was quick to make a cutting comment about how much she wanted to punch Rachel. Of course Rachel turned to Finn for support, nudging him in the ribs and asking him to do something.
“Mr. Schue, you can’t take the star quarterback out before the big game.” The boy stated with certainty.
“That’s easy to say when you’re the star quarterback.” Tina said as she rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“You’re such a hypocrite.” Santana added, angered by the pairs reluctance to let anyone else get a shot.
Rachel rolled her eyes. “Oh, like you even know what that means.”
Santana knew exactly what it meant, she knew that she herself was guilty of the same behavior, most of it aimed at the small brunette staring defiantly up at her. She was angry now; at Rachel, at Finn, at Mr. Schue and his stupidity, but mostly she was angry at herself for keeping that dumb jocks secret. She needed to come clean about what happened between her and Finn and she needed the boy to own up to what he did and stop lying to his girlfriend. “It means that your boyfriend is full of crap, hobbit.”
That was it, Rachel was not going to sit idly by and let the Latina get away with that comment. So she stood and faced the Cheerio. “You know what, ever since the wedding you’ve been up my butt and I’m sick of it!”
It was true, Santana had been making derogatory comments about her dressing like the dark, fantasy of a Japanese salesman or the bait on those to catch a predator shows. She didn’t know what else to do, her relationship with Brittany was changing now that the blonde Cheerio and Artie seemed to seriously dating. She was angry, and when she was angry she often acted before thinking things through. She didn’t really want to hurt Rachel, but she needed to deflect some of her emotions and the tiny diva was convenient.
The two girls stared daggers at one another until Finn grabbed Rachels arm to get her attention. “C’mon Rachel, she’s not worth it.”
Santana was having none of that and she leaned forward and spoke directly into the boys ear. “Oh, really? Cause that’s not what you thought last year in that motel room.”
The whole room fell silent at that and Rachel looked from Santana to Finn stunned by what she just heard.
“That’s right Yentl, you’re sweetheart… he’s been lying to you, ‘cause he and I totally got it on last year.” The Latina crossed her arms in defiance as she let the words sink in.
Meanwhile Mr. Schue finally got his head out of his ass and stopped the confrontation. Rachel was stunned and simply stood there staring at the boy she loved as she tried to make sense of it all.
When practice ended Quinn moved to the Latina’s side as they both watched Brittany push Artie out the door. “I’m not Rachel’s biggest fan, but that was pretty harsh, S.” Santana turned toward the blonde and Quinn caught a fleeting glimpse of such despair in the dark haired girls eyes.
“Yeah, well, I was getting tired of watching the two of them mooning all over each other. Besides, when a guy gets all up on this,” She said indicating her body with a sweeping gesture. “They usually can’t wait to brag about it.”
Quinn just shook her head deciding a change of topic was in order. “What’s the deal with you and B? You don’t seem to be to upset about her dating Artie.”
“Why would I be?” The Latina answered harshly. “I’m not her keeper, she can do whatever she wants with whoever she wants.”
“I’m just asking.” Quinn put her hands up defensively. “No need to bite my head off. I just figured you’d fight a little harder for her.”
The Latina just shook her head, seeming to deflate right in front of the blondes eyes. “Why does everybody assume I’m the one who gave up on us? B wanted us to be out because she thought it would be fun, not because she wanted to be my girlfriend.” Santana chuckled ruefully as she continued. “I love her, Quinn, I always have and I always will. But I know I’ll never have her the way I want.”
Quinn just stood there stunned as the dark haired Cheerio walked away. Santana Lopez did not do emotional and yet the girl had revealed more about herself in just those few sentences.
They call it the calm before the storm, that moment when time seems to stand still and all you can hear is the beating of your own heart. Your senses are heightened and your muscles twitch in anticipation. The air is heavy with the stench of the living, the dead and the dying. Suddenly, all Hell breaks loose and you rise from your crouched position shouldering your plasma rifle and begin firing. You’re weakening their defenses and destroying their shields – shouting at the top of your lungs as you watch the rocket launchers and fragmentation grenades drop into the gaps you’ve created. You continue to shout and shoot long after the last of the enemy has fallen until a pair of strong arms wrap around you and pull the weapon from your hands.
“Shit Lopez, what the fuck?” Puck yelled as he wrestled the controller from dark-haired girls grip. “Stay the fuck still will ya!”
He had both arms wrapped tightly around the girl as he whispered in her ear to try and calm her down. It took a few minutes before she came to her senses and a few minutes more before he felt comfortable letting her go. She slumped down onto the sofa and hung her head, taking deep breaths as she tried desperately to slow her racing heart.
“What the Hell was that about?” Puck sat next to the Latina, “You really lost your shit there, Lopez.”
“Fuck off, Puckerman.” Santana rasped, her voice nearly gone from her constant screaming a few minutes ago.
“No way, not this time, Lopez.” The mohawked boy stated. “I’ve seen you pissed off before, and I’ve seen you wail on the Halo game, but this is something else.”
He wasn’t expecting an answer, he wasn’t expecting any response at all, so he was taken completely by surprise when the normally stoic Latina began sobbing uncontrollably. He had absolutely no idea what to do and so he tentatively reached out and stroked Santanas back hoping to soothe her. That was all it took to break her completely, a simple human touch that tore right through the last of her defenses, causing her to crawl into the shocked boys lap. Now Puck was really at a loss as he held the sobbing girl. This was something so completely out of his wheelhouse and it was causing him to panic, and Noah Puckerman did not panic.
He knew he needed some help and so he reached for his phone, scrolling through the contacts trying to decide who to call. Brittany seemed the obvious choice but he knew that she was dating Artie and so he thought calling her might actually make things worse. Quinn was back in her HBIC mode and hell bent on recovering her spot at the top so he wasn’t sure she wouldn’t use this against Santana. Rachel Berry. Santana will probably kill him for this but he knew from prior experience that Rachel could keep a secret, (the whole Quinn, Finn baby thing didn’t count) and that she was good with all this crying crap. Besides, she was probably the only person on his contact list that would be home on a Saturday night. He sent a quick text and closed his phone pulling the Latina closer as she continued to sob.
Ten minutes later he heard a commotion upstairs and breathed a sigh of relief knowing reinforcements had arrived. He listened as the basement door opened and watched as Rachel finally came into view, her eyes widening at the sight of the broken girl in his arms.
“What happened?” the brunette whispered as she moved closer to the pair.
Santana was no longer actively sobbing and her tears had started to abate, she knew she should move but she was just too exhausted. She was also feeling more than a bit embarrassed by her loss of control in front of Puck. Then she was moving as Puck shifted her over into another pair of arms and she burrowed into the familiar scent of jasmine and vanilla. “Rachel?” Santana asked, hoping it was in fact the petite diva that was holding her.
“Yes, Santana it’s me. I’ve got you now.” Rachel cooed into the Latina’s ear as she stroked circles on her back. “Can you stand up for a minute so Noah can open the futon?”
The dark-haired girl nodded and Rachel helped steady her once she stood. Rachel looked to Puck gesturing toward the futon with a raised brow as the boy snapped out of his daze. He was having all sorts of trouble processing what he was witnessing but he put that aside as he quickly folded the futon out as requested. He then helped Rachel lower Santana down and stood back and watched as the tiny diva moved behind the Latina and embraced her.
Puck moved to the chair in the corner and sat down heavily, never taking his eyes off of the girls in his bed. He watched as Santana turned toward Rachel and he was enthralled as he watched the tiny brunette stroke the dark haired girls cheek and whisper to her. I guess I’m not the only black sheep in Rachel’s flock. Puck thought to himself as he continued to watch the girls interact.
It was about six months ago when Puck was feeling particularly low and got completely plastered at one of his own parties. He was being loud and obnoxious, well more than usual, and some of the party-goers were leaving early. “Yeah, go ahead and leave, I don’t want you here anyway!” Puck shouted as he staggered around. No one had ever seen him quite so fired up; even Santana wasn’t able to get him to calm down. She was, however, able to get him into his room where he proceeded to attempt to get her into bed. She managed to fight him off by kicking him square in the jewels and fleeing while he writhed on the floor.
What no one knew was that Rachel had gone into Puck’s room to use his bathroom since the one downstairs was occupied for purposes other than its intended use. She had heard Santana struggling with Puck and stayed back so as to avoid discovery by the obviously angry pair. She had peeked out just as the Latina kicked the mohawked boy in the groin and Rachel winced as she watched him crumble to the carpet. The brunette didn’t know what to do now that Santana left and she really needed to get home. She had never missed a curfew and she didn’t want to cause her fathers any worry but she had no idea how she would be able to get past Noah without him seeing her.
Rachel had to do something and so she moved back into the bathroom and called her home. She moved as far into the bathroom as she could so that she wouldn’t have to whisper and told her father that one of her friends was not feeling well, her parent s were out of town and so she thought it best of she stayed with her to ensure that she met no harm during the evening. They had agreed and told her she was very considerate to help her friend out like that. It may also be a bit of guilt on their part for the few times they’d gone on weekend trips only to return home to an ill daughter.
Now that she’d taken care of her fathers she needed to figure out what to do about Puck. That decision became much easier when the boy in question walked into the bathroom. “Berry, what the fuck are you doing in my bathroom?” Puck mumbled still reeling from the kick to his groin. “You want your shot at me now? Huh, you wanna walk all over me too!” Rachel took a step back as he advanced on her. “First Quinn rips my heart out by taking my baby away, then Lopez kicks me in the nuts and tells me to grow up – what are you gonna do, slap me in the face and tell me to be a better Jew?”
Rachel was afraid when Puck first started yelling but she could see how much he was hurting and when she saw tears began to stream down his cheeks she made her decision. She moved toward the crying young man and wrapped her arms around him. She understood what he was feeling on some level, obviously not exactly the same hurt, but being hurt by people you don’t expect is usually the worse kind.
Ever since that night Puck had kept an eye on the tiny diva. He saw Santana blow a kiss to Finn and found that he wanted to smack some sense into the boy. Problem was he understood Santana’s appeal all too well and so when he saw Rachel leaning against the wall he decided to comfort her instead. After all she had helped him through some tough times, and honestly she was a pretty hot Jew.
That’s how he found himself in her room making out with her on her bed. That’s also where some of her past discussions with him came into play and he realized that what he was doing wasn’t right. He needed to be the voice of reason this time and keep not only himself, but Rachel from making a huge mistake. He pulled away from her, telling her he couldn’t do this to Finn again. It would have been so easy to take advantage of Rachel at that moment; and had it been six month prior he would have been well on his way to collecting Berry’s V-card.
Santana woke to a feeling of such warmth and contentment that she had to wonder if she was in fact still asleep. She had recently been having trouble sleeping and it had made the already somewhat volatile young girl a walking time bomb. She was still having trouble letting Brittany go even though she now found herself having feelings for someone else. Everything was just so messed up and the Latina was sick of feeling like a pathetic loser. She wanted to talk to Brittany bit she had a date with Artie. She texted Quinn and found out she was on a date with Sam. She even contemplated talking with Rachel, but honestly the tiny diva was a big part of what was making her crazy. You see, the person Santana found herself having feeling for was none other than Rachel Berry herself.
That’s how the Latina found herself at Puck’s wailing away on his stupid video game trying to bleed some of her pain into the virtual world of combat. It felt good at first but soon the emotions started building up in her and she lost herself in them. She wanted things to be simple again, like in grade school. She wanted a do-over. She wanted a real friend. She wanted her innocence back. She wanted all of these things that she could never have. All she could remember is shouting and shooting and willing herself to stop but not being able to. She remembered struggling against the arms wrapped around her and fighting and screaming. She remembered the scent of jasmine and vanilla filling her senses and instantly calming her. It was the same scent she found herself surrounded by now, it was her salvation, it was her angel, it was Rachel.