|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
"I need to fix your arm. Let me finish." His voice creaked as he walked back to her, and she could see the tears falling fast and bright down his twisted face. Picking up the needle which dangled painfully from the string in her wound, he tried to continue what he had been doing, but his hand trembled visibly, shaking and crashing about despite all his efforts to control it. His breathing was haggard and choked by sobs.
"Will, stop!' She pulled away, feeling the anger boil beneath his skin. Her heart raced, and, for a brief instant, he saw the fear flash in her eyes.
"Let me help you!" He screamed, grabbing her arm. "Just let me help!" He ran a hand through his hair as the words tripped over sobs. "I-I'm so tired of people getting hurt for my benefit..." His voice faded and he dropped his hand. But it wasn't over yet.
He walked up to a tree and began beating it again and again and again, screaming, the tears falling faster, until the skin of his knuckles pulled back to the bone and he doubled over, falling to his knees in the snow, shutting his eyes as his anger began to melt and he could feel the cold snow sinking into his skin.
Alexis watched with wide eyes. What should she do? His broken cries made her heart quiver and ache. He was supposed to be the strong one. She was so weak; how could she possibly help? He lay motionless, exhausted and drained, tears slipping down the bridge of his nose.
His passion was gone, and all that was left was the throbbing pain, which, after reaching fever pitch, had receded back to its endless, dull ache. Alexis. Robin. His parents. Through the iciness chilling the hot trails of his tears, he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard a distant, gentle voice in his ear.
He had never seen such softness in her eyes. "You need to stop."
His shoulders shook as he wiped his eyes and low, moaning cries filled the silent winter morning.
"Tell me about it." Alexis knelt beside him in the snow, slowly, hesitantly stroking his back, nervously twining her fingers in his hair, remembering how her mother used to sooth her own frequent fits of rage. "Tell me why you're angry."
"I am a terrible person." Will whispered, staring at the white blanket draped across his knees.
"No, you're not."
"I am. After all I did, to them, to you... All Robin ever did was try to help me, and now look what I've done."
"But that's not the reason." Why was she doing this? How was she doing this? Why was it permitted? He should hate her, should slap her away or beat her, not the tree. But he knelt there, accepting her presence, after all she'd done. This was what he'd wanted, she supposed. Here she was, staying by his side when she could have run, but why? Why did he want her when all she did was hurt him?
"No, it's not." He breathed, feeling her light touch on his cold skin. He wondered if this was a dream. "Alexis..." He turned to her, eyes shattered and pleading, his bloody hand resting on hers. "Please, stay. Please."
She felt his gaze in hers, his hand in hers, his heart in hers. Taking a shaky breath, she pushed aside all the voices crying inside her to not be a fool, telling her that this was the path to ruin. All the voices ceaselessly crying why, why, why? Because right now, it wasn't about her. Will was hurt and it was her fault, and she couldn't live with another weight on her conscience, certainly not one so unbearably heavy. This was his request, and, though she couldn't understand it, she had been the cause of enough disappointment. "Alright." Her lips trembled as she spoke. "Alright, I'll stay. For now, for as long as you need."
Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1