Chapter 1: The First Condition
It was months after Hannah had killed herself. Months since the trials, months since he had become homeless. Months since he had come back and been adopted by the Jensens. He hadn't thought about Hannah negatively for months now.
So why was Justin throwing it all away you ask?
It started when he woke up. At six o’clock, when his alarm went off, he had been awake for one and a half hours already. He had woken up at 5:27 due to a nightmare and just sat there, crying. The alarm woke Clay up though.
“Yo, Justin, you alright?” he asked when he heard Justin’s quiet sobs, and when he got no reply he stumbled over their covered floor. When he saw Justin’s tear stained face he leapt over a pile of jumpers and pulled his brother into a hug. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Justin couldn’t answer through his sobs, but didn’t pull out of the hug. Clay thought about how far he had come. Before they had adopted Justin, he would never have let anyone see him break down, and now he was even leaning into Clay.
“We need to go to school” Justin choked out, and Clay knew better than to keep questioning him, so he agreed and hopped up.
“You showering first or second?”
“Nah, i’ll be good for today.”
Clay pulled a face but didn’t say anything, he couldn’t talk about hygiene. “I’ll be down in a minute. Try to eat something and wait for me before you go”
When they got to school they had to part for first period, which Clay wasn’t sure about doing, but Justin assured him that it would be alright.
“Dude, it was just a nightmare, we both get them all the time. Stop overreacting.”
So Clay went to English, and Justin went to his free.
“Yo Foley,” Justin heard from behind him, and he froze up.
“Hey Monty, what do you want?” he hissed, remembering what he had done to Tyler, to Alex. He didn’t want to spend any more time with him than he had to.
“Whoa, dude, chill out,” he said, and Justin rolled his eyes. No, he wouldn't ‘chill out’, this guy had hurt his friends.
Wow, Tyler Down? His friend? How times change.
“Well, Foley, I was just wondering if you’d taken a picture of our homework last Tuesday? I wasn’t in class”
Justin groaned loudly and got his phone out, checking his liked images. He always liked pictures of homework so that he could find them quicker. He quickly sent Monty the picture.
“There you go. Now leave. me. Alone.”
As Monty walked away Justin went across his photos, unliking various pictures, deleting others, and he was just figuring out why he had no storage on his phone when he swiped onto a specific picture.
One of Hannah.
On the slide.
Oh shit… he hadn't deleted the fucking picture.
Justin felt his breath quicken but he did nothing about it. How could he? This was the photo that killed Hannah… or started to anyway. She never forgave him for what he did, even if she did start t alking to him again afterwards. She was always scarred by that photo… him showing it to Bryce, why would he show it to Bryce?
Hannah trusted him. She wanted to go out with him and he betrayed her. All for Bryce? What did Bryce have? What did he have except money?
Well, he had Justin trapped obviously. The younger boy liked Hannah, he really liked her. And what did he do? He hurt Hannah, all for his fucking public image. Well guess what Justin, you fucked up, you’re a murderer. You killed Hannah Baker and she's dead all because of you. Maybe you should die too, right? You are a murderer, right? An eye for an eye, you killed Hannah so you should die too. You were the only one on the tapes twice, you killed Hannah and you hurt Jess and you hurt everyone because that's what you do Foley, you hurt people. You kill people. YOU HURT PEOPLE AND YOU KILL PEOPLE AND JUSTIN, YOU SHOULD JUST DIE! YOU HEAR THAT JUSTIN, YOU SHOULD DIE JUSTIN!
“Hey Justin!” he heard. He whimpered and backed up.
Wait… since when was he on the floor?
He opened his eyes and only then realised. Sheri was in front of him. What was she doing there?
And why couldn't Justin breathe?
‘When did this happen?’ he thought, while gasping for air. How hadn't he noticed this before? He couldn't breathe, how do people breathe? People need air… Justin needed air… no wait, that was too much air that…
There was a bit of pressure on his arm.
He looked up.
His brother looked down at him for a moment before dropping to his knees in front of him, pulling him into a hug. “Is this ok?”
Justin nodded and sobbed into Clay’s shoulder. He felt someone take his phone from him gently and gasp. He wanted to say that he wanted to delete it, that he was sorry, but he couldn't breathe.
Well, he kind of could now, but not well, and breathing well is kind of essential.
“Justin, we’re not mad”
Justin looked up and saw Jess crying, but not angry. He couldn't see the hate he had expected, only sadness.
“Justin? You're ok, we want to help you, this was not your fault!”
Wasn't it? It felt like it was. He started everything, right? He killed Hannah Baker.
“Justin?” Clay asked, and his brother pulled away.
“Why did I show Bryce that fucking photo?”
Clay shook his head. “I don't know bro, but I do know that you didn't want to hurt Hannah. You were dumb, all of us were.”
Justin nodded silently. He didn't really believe it, but he isn't going to disagree. Not after Clay invited him into his home, got him out of every bad situation he could. Clay was his saving grace. He needed to keep that. He had to make everything up to his friends.
Even if that meant living.
Justin didn't really want to live anymore. Living meant pain, it meant suffering. But he would do it. For Clay, and for Jessica, and for Alex, and everyone he could.
And when Justin killed another person, then he knew what he had to do.
Chapter 2: The Second Consequence
Her parents were out of town when she found it. It was the weekend, her parents told her that they wouldn't go if she wouldn't have had her friends over, but it was their wedding anniversary and they wanted to spend time with each other. That's why Jess didn't mention that her friends were all busy, that some were grounded, others were going away for the weekend, the only one available was Courtney, and Jess and Courtney weren't at the point in their friendship where they could hang out together. Alone.
So Jess told her parents to go. And now Jess was sitting in her room, holding a dress which still had stains in it from that night . From the night that ruined her life.
Jess closed her eyes and saw his face, smiling at her.
She saw him take off his pants.
Take off her underwear.
Hold her down.
She felt those hands holding her down and she collapsed onto the bed that held so much horror for her. She felt him clawing his way into her skin. She felt him enter her and she sobbed.
How could she have let this happen? Why didn't she fight? Was she so drunk that she had forgotten her voice, she could have called for help, Justin could have helped her.
But he didn't. Because Justin was a coward. She knew it before and she knows it now.
How could she have trusted him again? He let her be raped ! He was the enemy!
She wanted to think otherwise, but all she could think was get off me and it hurts and HELP but no one did help her did they? Just like Justin, everyone expected her to just talk about it, she had told the police, she had told her parents, she had told everyone.
And no one gave a shit.
Why did they pretend to care about her? Everyone seemed so concerned but when it mattered no one cared.
Apart from Alex?
Did Alex care?
Jess didn't know.
When… when Bryce, it was him on top of her right now, whether it made sense or not, eventually decided to give her a moment, Jess reached for her phone and noticed it was buzzing, and without checking who it was she clicked answer.
“Jess? Are you ok? Please say you're ok!” she heard, and it sounded like a male voice. She couldn't speak, Bryce would come back and he would hurt her again and she couldn't deal with that again, so she just whimpered. She heard a whisper, but couldn't hear what he said, so she whimpered again. “Don't worry, Jess, I'll be there in a few minutes, yeah? You'll be ok”
And for a moment she believed him, she wanted to believe that she would be ok, but then there was another weight on her and she gasped and he was inside her again and she couldn't fucking move, and everything hurt and she wanted to die.
The line went blank.
Just like last time, al she could think about was that this would only end when she was dead, the pain wouldn't just stop, that's not how this would work. No, the only way that this torment would stop was if she forgot, which she didn't think she ever would, or if she died.
Too bad she was too much of a pussy to do it herself.
Maybe she could get someone else to do it. Maybe, just maybe, she could convince someone else to do it.
Before she could think he thrusted again and she sobbed louder than she had yet. She wouldn't get through this, the first time was bad enough but Bryce was back and he was hurting her and she couldn't get him off her and he shouldn't be here he was gone why is he back how is he back get off ME !
She looked up, past where she knew Bryce would be standing, but saw only black. That didn't make sense, her eyes weren't closed, she heard a voice, but everything was black. She couldn't even see Bryce, though she knew he was there. He would always be there.
“Jess?” she heard and she felt a hand on her shoulder. No. Bryce wouldn't hurt her, he was already inside her, he didn't get to touch her too. And the other person in the room didn't even exist? She didn't know, she was confused.
“Ok, no touching”
Jess tried to see who it was, but the room was still black.
“Help” was all she could say, and then she felt it.
She felt freezing cold on her hand. Bryce hadn't had anything cold. Bryce was hot and stuffy and heavy, but he isn't cold.
Jess wasn't drunk.
Bryce wasn't here.
Because he couldn't be here now.
Because Bryce is in jail. He was arrested. Right?
Right. He’s gone.
Jess looked up and saw Tyler. He stood there awkwardly, looking around the room for something to focus on that wasn't Jess sobbing and hyperventilating on her bed.
“T-Tyler?” she asked, and Tyler jumped at her voice.
“Uh, yeah! I found out that none of the others were around this weekend so I tried calling, but you didn't pick up for, like, i don't know, ten minutes? Fifteen? It's not important, basically I had a feeling if your parents were home then they would just send me away, but I wasn't sure how you'd be and then you picked up the phone and you sounded like you needed help so… I came over? It sounds stupid, but I was worried that he'd... it's not important. I hope you're ok”
Jess couldn't believe it. Tyler was grounded right now, he was going to be in so much trouble when he got home, and he still came over, just because he was concerned about her. That was… either really creepy or really sweet, she couldn't tell.
“You… you didn't take any pictures, did you stalker?” she asked, but Tyler immediately shook his head.
“You were in pain and hurting, and I read somewhere that ice can be grounding during panic attacks and shit and I saw you had some in your freezer so I thought it would help? I'm sorry if it was out of order, i was only trying to…”
“To help” Jess confirmed. As much as she knew Tyler could be a real creep, she didn't see his camera in his hand.
Besides, if she found a photo then she would kill him.
“I’m sorry” he said again, but she shook his head.
“Don't sweat it” Jess replied, shaking her head. She felt like shit, but needed to make sure he that Tyler knew he was appreciated.
Because he had helped.
They spent the rest of the day chilling out, and he snuck out of the house again the next day, which got him into even more trouble, but he didn't care.
Tyler wasn't going to let Jess stay by herself after what he had walked into the day before.
Chapter 3: The Third Consequence
Warning: use of homophobic f** slur
The thing was that Alex really was trying to get better. He knew that his friends and family were distraught that he had tried to end his life, so he was making an effort to at least improve, get away from the suicidal thoughts that fluttered about in his head. That’s why when he found yet another gun, he took it to Zach immediately. And the next one, and the next one, and the next one.
It was only when he had found the fifth gun that he decided to just throw it away. It wasn’t like Zach was doing anything other than selling the guns, Alex really didn’t have very much reason not to do it himself.
So he threw the fifth gun away.
The he gave the sixth one away.
By the time the seventh gun was put in his locker Alex was officially done. So he just left it there. He didn’t give it to any of his friends, he didn’t get rid of it himself. It just sat there in his locker. He was expecting it to stop then, he wasn’t expecting anything else, any surprises, nothing. So when a note appeared he was surprised.
He was even more surprised when he read it.
I hope that you know who I am, because I want you to know that I’m being serious when I say to use that fucking gun. I’m not joking around, I’m not doing shit. I just want you to know that if you don’t do what you know I want you to, then a lot of your friends will get hurt. Justin, Courtney, Zach. Maybe even little May, huh? I’m sure you think the others can protect themselves, but can Zach’s little baby sister protect herself? I don’t think so, do you wanna find out?
Yeah, didn’t think so. You have the gun. You’re welcome. So it’s either you use that gun, and don’t miss this time, or little baby May gets a bullet in her skull. Your choice Alex.
Alex didn’t know what to do. Of course he wanted to go to the school, to the fucking police, but what could he do? What could they do? The school didn’t give a fuck and Karen wouldn’t let May be in police protection anyway. She only cared about their image, she was so protective of May that she would probably bubble wrap her and build a safe house only for her.
So he couldn’t go to anyone else… even if he wanted to. Because Alex didn’t want to die. Life was finally starting to work out for him now. His parents were letting him have more freedom, his relationship with Zach was… complicated, but they were close, and Zach understood Alex.
Maybe too much. That’s another reason why Alex couldn’t just die. Zach needed him. He was getting worse, most of them were, while Alex was getting better, so he couldn’t leave. He has to stay to help his friends.
No, not friends. Family.
Because that’s what they were now. Clay, Tony, Jess, Ryan, they were all family. Hell, even Marcus could be seen as reeeeeeaaaaaaaaaly distant family. Like, fourth cousin thrice removed. Alex couldn't leave any of them. He was the only one improving. He had to stay to protect them.
Then again… if he didn’t stay then they were all in danger too. Alex knew he could protect them… but only if he was here.
He put the note back in his locker and locked it as securely as possible, even though he knew it probably wouldn't make a difference. If this person could get into his locker now then shoving it closed harder wouldn't make much of a difference.
This was probably all a big prank, made to scare Alex, it wouldn't be the first one. After joining Clay’s little friendship group some jocks had decided that he was dangerous and gone after him. Luckily Zach was there at the time to protect him (“Not that you need protection” Zach had said quickly), or else he would have had an even longer recovery period. Now that his leg was back to normal he would rather the crutch stay out of his sight.
So this was all a prank. It had to be. Right?
100% wrong, this was not a joke.
Alex stared at the piece of paper. It was May’s homework that had been due in a week ago. He had helped her work on it, because she wanted Zach’s help, but he is awful at maths and would have done more harm than good. So Alex had helped her with it. How was it here? In his locker?
The bell rang and broke Alex out of his panic. Someone had stolen this from May somewhere between Zach’s house and her school, just to show Alex that this was a serious threat.
Well, ok. This was a serious threat, message received.
Alex thought of May. She was sweet, she had never once questioned why he had a cane and instead asked him if he wanted a drink. She asked him if he wanted help up the stairs and, when he said no, she said ‘call me if you need me’ and ran off. All while her mother was glaring at the back of his head because she didn't want her son to be around a ‘mentally ill young boy’.
The thought of someone going and hurting May made Alex feel sick, so he put the work back in his locker and slammed the door.
When Courtney came asking if he was ok, he just told her that he had slipped, and no he didn't need the cane.
That night he read the note over. What was he supposed to do? He couldn't just ignore it, that could get May hurt, and what if he took it to the police? They've been needed before and they did nothing, and no offense to his dad, he’d probably crash the car before getting there. No, this was something that he had to deal with himself.
The others didn't need this in their lives. They all had things themselves, Tyler and Clay were spiralling, Ryan had been concerning him recently and while he certainly wanted to tell Zach, he couldn't be sure that wouldn't just endanger May even more.
No, he had to do this.
Besides, he remembered his thought process before he had tried the first time. The pain of the truth, that he could have helped Hannah, that he knew what was happening, that she was so close, and he was so close to her while she was being raped , why didn't he even try to see what Bryce was doing? Why did he trust Monty over his own conscience?
Now, thinking about it, he still felt those crushing feelings of guilt. The therapy had helped, the fact that there was no changing the past, but he knew before that he deserved to die because of what he did. When had he decided that he deserved to live after that?
He used to understand. He used to get that he didn't get to live anymore.
He looked in the bathroom, at the new tiles that were there to replace the proof of his failure. He remembered trying to talk about his mum about it but her bursting into tears. That was too hard for her, having to clean up after him. He had to be cleaner…
No, what was he thinking? His mum was distraught. He couldn't do that to her again.
His phone buzzed and he was shaken out of his head. Damn, he had been staring at this note for hours now. He put it down and checked his phone.
Alex stared at his phone. They were messages from an unknown number, but they obviously knew him.
- Kill yourself freak
- Come on fag
- Do it
Well… that kind of made his decision for him, right? People obviously didn't want him here.
Alex thought about Hannah, back when she was whole. She was funny, she was smart, she was pretty, fuck, she was one of the prettiest girls in his year, in the entire school. And he went and fucked it up for a rapist. First he went out with Jess, which he knew she didn't have a problem with, but he had told Jess that she did. He had, for some reason, told Jess that Hannah was being a bad friend, and he couldn't figure out why.
Why did he get to live when he was an awful person, and Hannah was an angel. She was the personification of May, spring when all of the flowers were blooming, and he was the personification of September. When school starts, and it rains so much, and there's nothing interesting happening until Halloween. He was nothing compared to her… so why was he here and she dead?
He couldn't go back in time, he knew that. He couldn't go back and stop Bryce from raping her, but he could punish himself, and stop anyone else from getting hurt.
Which is why he had to do what the note said.
Alex looked at the clock in his room. It was 2:16. How long had he been looking at the god damn note?
Did it even matter?
Alex looked at his notebook but decided against writing another note. Why try? He’d already written ne. He grabbed his bag and slipped the note in his maths textbook. Hopefully someone found it before it was given to the next student.
Alex undid the latch on his window and slipped out in nothing but a vest and pants. He started walking towards the bridge.
The water was black. Alex had almost expected it to be the same blue as it was during the day, when everything was warm and stable, when his friends were here too. Alex felt a black hole inside him now. The water was the same colour as the empty void in his chest where Hannah used to live. He couldn't think of any way that this could fail, and an added extra, he wouldn't leave a mess.
And everyone would be free from him. May would be safe, Zach wouldn't hate him for hurting his sister, and he could finally get what he deserved.
He climbed to the other side of the safety bar. The water looked cold, but he could deal with cold. He was used to feeling cold, feeling like he was frozen in time. He couldn't be saved. Did he even want to be?
“Alex, what the fuck?” he heard from behind him, and he turned to see Marcus. Huh, he hadn't seen Marcus for a while, not since he moved schools to get away from it all. He went to wave by then slipped.
Alex gasped. This was what he had wanted five seconds ago, so why was he screaming? Why was he looking, searching, begging for something to hold on to. Maybe it was Marcus. Maybe he had realized that he wasn't alone.
Alex heard his name again and felt a yank on his arm, and then he was being pulled back iup. All the sounds around hi were blurring together, the waves beneath him, the clanging of feet on metal, a voice.
Wait… had Marcus saved him? But Marcus hated hum, Marcus hated everyone. That's why he left in the first place, because he couldn't deal with the truth that everyone else had faced, that he had assaulted Hannah.
“Alex, dude if you don't reply then ill call the hospital, or the police, or someone ”, he heard, and then Alex realised that Marcus had just saved him from killing himself , and holy shit, he was going to kill himself again .
“I…” he tried to say, but then eh started sobbing. Full on weeping, because he couldn't dt hat again, he couldn't hurt that many people again.
“Shh, its ok dude” Marcus said, pulling him into a hg, and Alex accepted graciously.
“Can… can we call my parents?” he asked, sniffing. “I didn't bring my phone”
Marcus nodded and pulled his phone out, the latest model Alex noticed. Well, what else had he expected? He knew Marcus’ dad had money…
“Alex? Number?” Marcus said, and the younger boy groaned. He mumbled out the numbers and then shivered. Marcus took off his jumper while talking to someone on the phone, and Alex could practically hear the police sirens already. He felt the wool around him and snuggled into it. Marcus was warm. He wasn't like Alex, not like the water down below. No, Marcus was warm and safe, and Alex regretted every bad thing that he had ever said to him because he had just saved his life.
And Alex would never forget that.
Chapter 4: The Fourth Consequence
It only took Tyler a few weeks to get used to the routine. Get to school five minutes after the bell. Say the bus was late. After form go around the long way to his lessons. Get to class late. Say he went to the bathroom. Do that until lunch. Get packed lunch out of bag. Eat lunch in the red room with the door locked. Get to class late. Go home. Repeat.
Tyler was looking out for himself. He didn't go to the toilet at school, he wouldn't let himself be touched, he spent all of his free time alone in his room. No one could touch him, no one could hurt him. His logic was foolproof.
Then why was he alone with Montgomery de la Cruz now?
He had been in the red room waiting for Ryan to come and pick him up, just like every day, when he heard a knock on the door. When he went to open it Monty was standing there, shoving him aside to enter the room and locked the door. Tyler had immediately started hyperventilating. He’d almost forgotten what Monty had actually looked like, his face had been warped to look worse, like what Tyler saw as a rapist. Like a psychopath.
But that was what was almost the worst thing. Monty wasn’t old, and balding, and ugly. No, if Tyler were interested in guys then Monty Would probably be his first choice of the entire baseball team. That's what made it most difficult. Monty wasn't a monster physically, no one would believe him if they just saw him in the streets and were told he was a psycho, that he was a rapist, because how could he be? He was such a handsome man, he has so much good in his future .
Tyler backed up as Monty walked up to him, and all he could think of was the pure torture this boy had put him through, the pain in his ass that was there for months, that he still felt even now. As in, right now, because he could feel it now, he could feel the hard, splintered wood inside him in and out and in and out and in and out and…
“Tyler?” he heard from outside, and knocking continued. Tyler opened his eyes - when had he closed them? - and saw no monster, and no Monty.
But… he had been there a moment ago…
“Tyler? It’s the end of lunch, are you coming?” he heard. It was Ryan’s voice. Had he made this up? Was he having what Jess had had a few weeks ago, a flashback? No, it couldn't be. Monty hadn't raped Tyler, it was different. “Tyler?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry Ryan,” Tyler said, and went to unlock the door. However, this time he opened it slowly, carefully. He wouldn't let him inside.
“Tyler, we don't have time for this, I’ve been at the door for five minutes now, we’re late.”
“Sorry,” he said, and he grabbed his bag and hopped out of the room, pretending not to feel the mop as him and Ryan ran to form (well, Tyler ran, Ryan walked, because he had abnormally long legs and was very gay, so he didn't have to run).
Tyler sat down in the bathroom in his house on the shower floor. He could have sat on the toilet, or on the side of the bath, but the shower floor was secure. His legs wouldn't give out and let him come crashing to the floor. That would hurt, but in the wrong way. Bruising was normal pain. People bruise all the time, Tyler needed something different to normal. The pain Monty had put him through wasn't normal, it would scar him. For life.
Tyler didn't want to die, but he needed something permanent.
He remembered something that Skye had told him when they were drunk once. She had told him that sometimes physical pain can drown out emotional pain. After that she had shown Tyler a row of small cuts along her side, just above her pants. She had told him that it could help, when everything got too much all she had to do was get a knife and make neat little rows along her wrist, or her thighs, or her side.
The next day he had gone to Mr Porter, but he decided against telling him. Skye was the first person to talk to him in a while, he didn't want to fuck it up. Besides, she must have been doing it safely.
Skye had never brought it up again, maybe she had forgotten that they'd talked about it, maybe she just didn’t want to. Doesn’t really matter, she had moved away now.
He’d heard about it from the internet since about the age of twelve. He’d tried it once, but it had just hurt, so he’d never tried again.
Not until now.
He picked up the scissors he’d grabbed earlier and looked at them. They were the sharpest that he could fund in the short amount of time that he had been looking, and he
He looked at his wrist next. He had been debating on where to do it, and he had chosen to do it on his wrist that morning, but now he thought now. It was so hot right now that him going to school in anything more than a t-shirt would be suspicious. Besides, he wouldn't be taking off his pants for anyone for a very long time.
He wanted to do this. To take whatever anger, whatever pain that he was feeling and put it onto himself. Use himself as his own punching bag.
The first cut hurt. He hissed so loudly he thought his parents heard him, and there wasn’t even any blood yet. It was just a red line on a pale leg. It looked almost pretty. He wouldn’t wish this on anyone, even Monty himself, but he saw the line and just saw sweet justice. The second cut hurt more, but Tyler was expecting it. It still didn’t bleed but he could see that it was redder. Gathering what little confidence he had, Tyler pushed harder and dragged the knife down his thigh. The third cut bled. It didn’t bleed much, and Tyler wanted blood. He wanted to bleed out the pain, the anger, he wanted to bleed it all out so that all that was left was the Tyler that used to exist, before Monty, before Bryce, before Hannah even.
He cut again, and again, and again, each with a different amount of force, some ended deeper, others ended so shallow they didn’t even bleed.
Most bled though. They felt better when they bled.
After he was done, his leg was covered in blood, some dripping to the floor, painting the white tiles red, Tyler turned and grabbed the red towel he had grabbed. He hadn’t expected to be here for this long, it was the middle of the night.
He put the towel up against his thigh and grabbed the badage he’d grabbed a few weeks ago, tying it messily against the mess.
He turned on the shower and washed away the red, leaving only white. Tyler was temporary, easily washed away and forgotten. He was the red that needed to be washed away to reveal the pure white beneath.
Get to school five minutes after the bell. Say the bus was late. After form go around the long way to his lessons. Get to class late. Say he went to the bathroom. Do that until lunch. Get packed lunch out of bag. Eat lunch in the red room with the door locked. Get to class late. Go home. Repeat.
Except somewhere in there Cyrus had joined him with Mackenzie and Chad and all of their friends. Tyler wanted to ask what they wanted, what the trick was, because this was a good thing and good things never happened to Tyler. But he didn't ask that, because then this would end, and he missed this. He missed pretending not to care.
On the way to the red room for lunch his arm was grabbed and he whimpered, backing away quickly, but when he looked it was Cyrus, not Monty.
“Heh, sorry,” he said to cover it up, “you scared me.”
Cyrus looked suspicious and Tyler knew he'd fucked it up. Cyrus knew he was fucked up now, and he would leave and Tyler would be alone again and…
“Dude?” he heard, and he looked up. Cyrus looked a bit spooked, but he hadn't left. Yet , a voice said in his head and Tyler knew to listen to ti. Don't let your hopes raise too high, you'll only fall .
Cyrus was suddenly holding his wrist again, though softer this time, and he was walking away, the opposite way to the red room. “Uh, Cyrus I was going to…”
“Don't care Ty, we’re going to eat with the others”
Tyler started really panicking when he saw Taylor and Kenneth eating with some other jocks. Monty would be on that table, if not now then in a minute. He couldn't be in the same room as Monty, not knowing he would be there looking at him, judging him, laughing with his friends about hurting him, about…
He broke out of Cyrus’ hold and worked out a loud ‘sorry’ before running back to the red room.
On the way there he banging his leg on a desk.
He kept running, ignoring the pain, and ran , because what else could he do?
When he got there he turned to close the door and almost crushed Cyrus. He stopped himself just in time and let him in, then closed the door and locked it.
Then he unlocked it and locked it again.
“What the fuck dude? Chad saw you run off, he thought it was something personal or some shit. Is it about Mack, cause i thought you were over that shit, let her be happy…”
Tyler cut him off with a sob, and only then did Cyrus notice the blood seeping through Tyler’s pants leg.
“Shit, man, what the fuck happened?” he asked, and Tyler looked down. He didn't seem surprised, maybe he knew that he wasn’t a good person at keeping secrets. He had been the one to slip about the tapes.
“Nothing, don't worry about it,” he said, looking down and pushing hard on the wet patch on his pants. Cyrus ran over the room and grabbed his hand, pulling it off his leg.
“Can I see?” he asked, and Tyler looked at him, terrified. He wanted to say no, he wanted to tell Cyrus that it was his body and he should be the one to do things to it, other people shouldnt touch him, it was his fuckig body , but he nodded. Of course he did. He had never really been able to say no to Cyrus. How could he, Cyrus was perfect. He didn't care about what people thought of him, he acted without being terrified of the result. Cyrus was amazing, and Tyler didn't deserve to be his friend.
“Why?” Cyrus asked, and Tyler just laughed.
“This school’s fucked, man. I thought you knew that”
“I’ve never hurt myself, Tyler, and definitely not as bad as this!”
“Good! Don’t! Ever!”
Tyler was about to continue yelling when he heard Cyrus sob. He looked up and saw that the boy had gotten his trousers off, which he hadn’t even noticed happening, and looking at the many cuts along his leg. Last night they had seemed beautiful. They had seemed artistic and he had been proud of them. Now? Now all he could see was scabbed skin.
His leg didn’t look infected at least. Tyler watched Cyrus pour some water from his water bottle onto a tissue and wipe carefully the red area. There were silent tears on his face, and Tyler didn't know whether to ask about them or hug him, he didn't know what to do in this situation.
“Do you want to tell me what happened?” Cyrus asked weakly, and Tyler winced. Did he? He definitely wanted Monty to stay away from him, and Cyrus could help. But… would he judge him?
“Promise you won’t make fun of me?” He asked, just to make sure.
Cyrus looked at him, surprised. “Dude, I won’t. I would never!”
Tyler looked down. He felt Cyrus wiping down his leg and winced at the pain. He wanted to keep hurting himself, but what if he was stupid again? What if one of them did get infected? What would he do? Would he have to go to his parents?
“Ok…” he began, and Cyrus’ eyebrows raised.
“Alright, should we sit down, how bad is this?”
Tyler looked down at his leg, then he looked back at the door, and imagined Monty sitting there with his friends, being all smug about what he had done.
He had to be stopped, and if no one else was going to do it, then Tyler would.
“I was in the bathroom…”
“Hey baby!” Tamika said as Courtney opened the door, pulling her into a hug and kissing her on the cheek. That was what they had deemed acceptable for public, hugs and cheek kisses while with other people, and not even that when they were with Courtney’s dads. Then the rules were hugs and hand holding.
There were a lot of rules in their relationship, but Tamika understood that Courtney was new to gay relationships, or relationships in general. She understood, which was one reason why Courtney was so happy. Tamika had been pretty much all of her firsts, her first relationship, her first… something else.
She really liked her. That's the point.
Tamika went to say hi to Courtney’s parents while the girl giggled and ran over to her bedroom, grabbing her stuff in order to go out for dinner. At first both of them were apprehensive about going out together, especially to such a popular romantic public location, but Ryan had assured them that there was nothing to worry about. He had gone there a bunch of times with his new boyfriend, Kyle, and the staff there had proven to be extremely accepting.
“I wouldn't have let Ryan recommend it if I thought it wasn't one hundred percent safe” Kyle had said, and Courtney believed him. Because he understood, more than Ryan even. He understood the internalised homophobia.
Courtney went to get her phone from on charge on her bedside table and saw a note. She frowned and picked it up. She stared at her name on the envelope and tried to ignore the icky feeling she had. Firstly: who the fuck had put this here? She had been home all day and no one other than her had been in her room. Secondly: whose writing was this? It couldn't be who she thought it was, because that would be…
She wasn't here anymore.
The looping C was exactly how Hannah used to do hers though, and the tiny hearts at the end of her name were the same trademark Hannah hearts.
But it couldn't be her.
Courtney put it back and left her room, closing the door after her. She would deal with it after dinner.
Except, she couldn't stop thinking about it. Even when Tamika tried to distract her by talking about her psychology project, which made her happy temporarily, but then she remembered the harmless piece of paper in her room, and she thought about Hannah, how she had metaphorically thrown her into the deep end and let her deal with Monty, even though she knew that it would be hell. So what if she wasn't ready to come out? She had forced Hannah to come out of a closet she wasn't trapped in, and they had both suffered the consequences. It hadn't even saved herself, she had still had to deal with the mean comments even afterwards.
So Courtney kept quiet all night. She felt awful about it, because Tamika was noticeably uncomfortable with the awkward silences, but she couldn't enjoy herself.
Who had written that note?
No, the note was probably nothing, she kept thinking to herself. At most it was a prank, but it was probably not even that. Most likely it was just a note from a family member or someone at school that had similar handwriting to Hannah, and one of her dads found it and put it next to her bed. It was nothing.
Now all she had to do was make it through this date so that she could go and let her mind rest.
“Babe?” her girlfriend asked, and Courtney looked up guiltily. Logically, she knew she had done nothing wrong, but she still felt guilty for not giving her girlfriend her full attention during their date.
“Do you wanna cut it short today?” Tamika asked, and Courtney had never been happier that she had such a great girlfriend.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, but she waved it off.
“Don't worry, we all have bad days”
Tamika had walked her home, which Courtney had said that she didn't have to do. She knew that, she just wanted to make sure that she got home safely.
She was the best girlfriend ever.
When she got home all she really wanted to do was go to bed and sleep all of this off, but she had to know, and the letter would just be sitting there half a metre from her all night. She got home, said goodbye to Tamika, and went to the bathroom with the letter.
Courtney Crimsen, it said, I am so sorry that this letter has to be sent to you, but hey. It’s me, Hannah. I know, big shocker, right? The girl who left tapes also left letters, and of course Tony was the one to has kept them all this time. He has always been the one I trusted the most. I haven’t left a letter for everyone though, only some people. Bryce hasn't got a letter, like hell I’m putting any effort into anything that he can jerk off to. Neither has Mr Porter, nor has Marcus. Everyone else though, everyone that I actually thought I would like… your all getting these. I really liked you Courtney, I want you to know that. You never knew how much I questioned my own sexuality after our kiss. You were funny and smart and for that one night I saw that we had a lot in common. You just had to fuck it up. I never cared about Monty or Bryce or anyone making fun of me because I knew that they would find someone else to make fun of in a week. You, however, you cared way too much, you cared enough to make my life even more fucked up, and now I’m dead. So well done, you were one of my murderers.
She had to stop reading. There was more, but that was all she could take. This was fake, that much was obvious. Hannah had only left the tapes, that much had been clear, even from the beginning when Hannah said that Tony was the only one she trusted. She trusted Clay, Jess, hell, she even trusted Justin for one night, letting him sleep in her house the night they met. Hannah if anything trusted too easily. Also, as much as she didn't want to admit it, Hannah was straight. She had said so herself once, when Courtney asked if she had a chance while buying tickets for some disney movie.
Whoever was messing with her had misjudged her. She wouldn’t be scared by some letter which she knew was fake.
Later that night while getting ready for bed, however, she was nervous. Even if Hannah didn’t write the letter, should she finish it? Just to make sure that it wasn’t a threat or something. Yeah, it was best to finish the letter.
Although you knew that you killed me, you regretted it from the moment you said the words. You knew that we could never be friends, after I said that I was completely alone in the school, yet you still saved your own ass. Guess what? Marcus would never have come after me if it weren’t for you. Hell, maybe Bryce wouldn’t have come after me either. All of it was your fault Courtney. You killed me. One day you’ll pay for that.
- Your “friend”, Hannah
Courtney had tears in her eyes by the end of it. All of it was true, whether it was Hannah or not. She had known that Hannah would be under even more attack after she said that, she knew that Hannah was losing her only friend, but she did nothing. She let it happen, because hey, as long as she was still liked and respected, right? Courtney remembered Hannah’s face after she had betrayed her, and she sobbed.
Yeah, I'm not as proud of this one, but writing Courtney was kinda dull. Thank you all for reading my stuff! You're all appreciated.