If there was one thing in the world she currently craved the most, it would be solace. Complete and utter solace, nothing more, nothing less. To be alone for a moment, to process, to think back to Matt, to her friends that had seemed to suddenly fallen off the face of the earth. A solace she intended to find as she ripped the seal from her neighbor's backdoor.
Susan's home, a place and a woman she'd grown to love like her own family. Memories from her early childhood flooding through her as she walked through the house. Her boots near silent against the cream carpet when she entered Susan's bedroom. Her blue-green eyes falling on a childhood drawing, her own child scribbles on the faded brown paper. A feeling of sadness and regret filling her as she looked up from the drawing.
Spotting a note on the bedside table that she picked up gently, taking a seat on the soft bed before allowing herself to focus on the neat handwriting. A handwriting she recognized, the words written breaking her heart further. Shattering what was left into a fine dust as tears fell from her eyes as she looked down. A tear dropping on the fabric of her jacket as she ran her thumb over the faded heart Matt had drawn onto her skin.
Her world had been turned upside down, Matt was gone, possibly dead. Turned into the thing that Susan had turned into, the thing that completely changed them. She recalled the way Susan had grabbed her, tearing at her hair and trying to pull her closer until she managed to escape. Halfway over the fence when hands grabbed at her shoe clad foot. She shook the memory away quickly, wiping the tears from her cheeks as she stood up off the bed. The note in her pocket, folded gently as she left the house.
But she found herself at the house once more as the sun rose into the sky the next morning. Wandering back through the hallway and into the bedroom. Looking back down at the faded drawing before coming to a decision, determination spiking through her veins as she searched out a inkwell full of black ink and a thick needle. Her determination numbing her as she sat down with the needle in hand. Determination numbing her to the pain as she dipped the needle into the ink, then pressing it into her skin. Piercing deep, pulling the needle back, her skin stained black and red in its absence.
She drew a shaky breath as she worked, her blood dripping onto her legs, just barely missing her jean shorts. The dull ache of pain survivable but taking over her senses as she did not hear the door to the house open. She didn't hear her name called as a figure's shadow fell across the doorway leading into the bedroom. The yell of her name combined with a warm hand wrapping itself around the hand that held the bloodstained needle. The needle wretched from her hand as she snapped to attention, meeting the frantic, furious but worried gaze that Ofelia gave her.
“What the hell Alicia!” Ofelia held the needle firmly in her hand, ignoring the blood that still coated the end as her brown eyes fell to Alicia's bloodstained wrist. “What the hell are you doing!”
“Give it back!” Alicia cried out, reaching out despite the pain in her wrist as her blood dripped onto the cream carpet.
“No, I can't let you keep hurting yourself!” Ofelia jerked backward, holding the needle above her head, out of the shorter girls reach.
“Give it! Now!”
“Or what? What will you do if I don't give it to you.” She challenged, her voice rough.
“I.. I don't know, just give it back. I have to finish it, I have to or I'll forget, I can't forget him, now give it back!” She wrapped a hand around Ofelia's wrist, trying to pull her hand back down but failing, the other woman too strong.
“Forget? Forget who? Who will you forget?”
“Matt, I'll forget Matt, please, just give it back.” She continued to tug on her, tears threatening to fall.
“Alicia..” She began when the sunlight filtering in through the windows caught in the smaller woman's tears.
“Don't, just give it back.”
“Alicia, you don't need to hurt yourself to keep his memory alive. You.. You won't forget.”
“How do you know that! Hes gone, hes dead, just like Susan is gone! Just like one day we'll be dead, me and you both. Your dad and your mom both will be gone, just like my dad is gone then one day my mom will be gone. We're all going to die Ofelia, so please, just let me do this. Let me hold on to the last piece of him that I have, please.”
“Shut up!” Alicia spat back, her rising voice opening the flood gates of impatient anger that Ofelia suddenly felt towards the other woman.
“No Alicia, you shut up, you listen to me.” She gripped tightly at Alicia's forearms, her nails digging into her bare skin. The cool metal of the needle pressing into the warmth of her palm. “I didn't know him, but I know he wouldn't want you hurting yourself for his sake. Hes dead, just like you said but he isn't gone, you won't forget him. Hes there, inside of you, in your heart.” She jabbed a finger into Alicia's chest with a fury in her eye when she met the blue-green of Alicia's eyes. “Right here,” she murmured.
“But I need him here! I can't do this without him!”
“Bullshit, that is complete and utter bullshit, you know it, I know it. Hell, we all know it, your mom, brother, Travis, Liza, Christ. Even my papa knows it, mama knows it.” Ofelia pulled away when the other girl visibly began to break. “He is gone physically but he is here and he would want you to be here for your family. Just as your family is here for you.”
“I-” Alicia began wiping away the tears that fell, allowing herself to be pulled into Ofelia's warm embrace.
“Your mom needs you, Nick needs you, Travis, Liza, Chris.. Even papa and mama need you,” she repeated but paused as she rubbed her hand soothingly across Alicia's back. “I need you,” she murmured into Alicia's brunette hair.
She held the younger woman as she began to sob into her borrowed shirt, she felt the tears soak through. Warm and damp against her skin where they stood in the center of the room, she felt her patience fill her once more. She held her until she felt her pull back, Alicia's watery eyes looking up and meeting Ofelia's dark brown eyes.
“Ofelia..” She began as she pulled back fully, her arm rising as she looked down at her bloodstained wrist. She'd nearly finished when the older woman had found her, but as she looked down, rubbing her thumb over the dried blood. Over the self made black tattoo that ached with each swipe of her thumb, “I was almost finished.”
“It hurts doesn't it.”
“Of course it does but I will survive, I will find a way to survive.. And you're right, you know that? He would have wanted me to survive, to keep going.”
“You won't forget him Alicia, you didn't need to hurt yourself to make it so either.”
“I know, you said that already.. I just- I don't know.” She let out a soft sigh as she held her arm to her chest, “I'll figure it out, I always do.”
“Can I be alone? I need to be alone.” She asked quietly, not meeting Ofelia's gaze but feeling relief when the woman gave her a murmured yes before leaving. Alicia's eyes catching the glint of the needle in Ofelia's tightly gripped fingers as she left. For a second she felt anger but the woman's words echoed in her mind, calming her as she took a seat on the bed in the room. Drawing her knees up to her chest and focusing her eyes on a spot not far from her.
With each breath the realization that her world was falling apart became more and more apparent. Once she might have said her world was complete, she had been a senior, she'd had perfect grades. She'd been accepted into Berkeley, she had everything. She had her boyfriend Matt, perfect Matt, artist Matt, Matt who loved her just as she loved him. She had her mother, Madison and her brother Nick. Her world had been perfect, complete, all of the pieces fit in just the right place but as she focused on that spot. Fighting back the feeling of complete and utter loss, she knew her world would never be the same ever again.
It wasn't until the sun began to set that she stood, her legs stiff and her wrist aching as she walked through the house. Back the way she'd come in but stopping in the doorway of the kitchen, her eyes falling on Ofelia sitting at the table. Bent over and her head resting on her arms in sleep, she appeared peaceful as Alicia approached her. Resting her hand gently on her back and giving her a small shake.
“Ofelia,” Alicia spoke just loud enough to rouse the other brunette from her sleep.
“Alicia, are you okay? I didn't-” She blinked several times, blinking away her grogginess and swallowed thickly, “I didn't want to leave you here alone in this house.. I-”
“Thank you,” Alicia murmured, cutting her off. She had indeed told Ofelia that she wanted to be alone but the other woman remaining in the house warmed her in a way she didn't believe possible. “We should go, the sun is setting.”
“Right but, wait.” Ofelia stood quickly, making her way to the stove, to a teapot that Alicia hadn't noticed when she first entered the kitchen. “You should clean up, I thought.. I figured you wouldn't want anyone to question you if they saw your arm in its current state.” Her eyes flickered down to Alicia's arm.
“You're right,” Alicia agreed as Ofelia poured the now cool boiled water into a bowl and a grabbed a small towel.
“Sit, I may not be a doctor but I can at least do this.” Ofelia told her as she approached the table, Alicia taking the seat that Ofelia had vacated as Ofelia sat next to her. Her delicate fingers reaching out and taking Alicia by the arm, lying her arm flat against the white table. “I'll try not to hurt you.”
“Its fine if you do.” Alicia murmured as Ofelia wet the towel then slowing began to wash away the blood. Staining the towel red with each pass, Alicia watching her movements carefully until finally looking up and watching Ofelia's facial expression. A small smile spreading across her lips as she worked, teeth biting into her bottom lip when Alicia made a small sound of pain.
“Sorry,” Ofelia apologized rubbing her thumb soothing over the expanse of skin that wasn't sore with a frown. “Almost done Alicia.. Then-” She looked up and met Alicia's gaze, “you're staring,” she stated.
“It hurts less when I look at you.” She replied, still looking at her rather than her arm. A warmth spreading through her when Ofelia halted in her movements, a slight blush spreading across her cheeks.
“Are you done?”
“Almost, then we can go.” Ofelia swallowed thickly as she looked back down at Alicia's arm, hurrying to finish so she could get herself out of this situation that had no idea how to handle. She wasn't sure if Alicia had intended for her words to make her feel the way she suddenly felt. She wasn't sure if her words were meant to spark a feeling of hope. She had just finally managed to extinguish the pull she'd felt towards the younger woman. She'd just managed to smother it completely as the soldier flirted with her, as the soldier kissed her. The reasoning behind doing it two toned, to help her mother and to rid herself of what she felt for Alicia.
“Ofelia.” Alicia speaking her name broke through her thoughts.
“Alicia.” She kept her eyes trained on Alicia's smooth skin before dropping the blood stained towel in the bowl of water. “Done.”
“Thank you.” Alicia covered Ofelia's hand with her own for a moment before pulling away. Standing by the table and unraveling the brown plaid shirt around her waist. Pulling it on before Ofelia moved to stand, refusing to meet Alicia's eyes, refusing to allow that pull to come raging back. “Let's go.”
“Right,” Ofelia allowed herself to finally meeting the blue-green gaze. Swallowing thickly at the sight of the smaller woman in the shirt that seemed a tad too big for her small frame. The fabric hanging loosely, the sleeves covering her hands. Her eyes scanning down her body as Alicia moved to leave but she reached out, touching her arm. “Wait, your leg is still covered in blood.”
Alicia met her gaze and looked down, nodding slowly. “You're right.”
“Of course I'm right,” Ofelia attempted to joke but it fell flat as Alicia merely looked at her before grabbing the wet towel off the table. Wiping the blood away until she was satisfied.
Hours passed, late into the night. An hour after Griselda, Ofelia's mother had been taken. Nick taken too despite the fight he'd put up with the soldiers. Liza gone with them. The fight that followed between Travis and Madison almost heart breaking as Madison blamed Liza for the soldiers taking her son. When in reality no one quite sure knew why they took him.
Ofelia sat next to her father Daniel in the Clark's living room. Her head in her hands when she suddenly heard Alicia announcing that she was going to bed, Madison Clark murmuring to her goodnight. The quiet sound of Alicia's shoes on the floor echoing down the hallway until the door leading to the quest bedroom closed. The bedroom that Alicia had been using in the wake of the Salazar family using her own bedroom.
Next to bid goodnight was Madison and Travis, retiring with obvious tension to her bedroom. Leaving Ofelia and Daniel to sleep in Alicia's room while Chris was no where in sight. Ofelia could only assume that he'd found himself a place to sleep on his own, or perhaps he was back on the roof of the family home. The boy was the least of her concern as she stood, murmuring to her papa goodnight as she made her way into Alicia's bedroom.
The bedroom she'd spent sleepless nights inspecting, her brown eyes roving over the drawings of Alicia and her possibly deceased boyfriend Matt. No matter how many times she looked them over, she couldn't get over the obvious love that had been felt between the two. The love that showed in Matt's drawings of Alicia and in the way that Alicia spoke of him. As she laid alone on the bed, still dressed in Alicia's borrowed clothes. Her shoes kicked off onto the carpet beside the bed when she heard her father enter the room but opt to sit in the chair by the window. The same place he'd slept since arriving in the Clark house.
They fell into a silence, Ofelia remaining awake while her father fell asleep. A soft snore escaping him where he leaned back in the chair, his feet up on the windowsill. Ofelia listened to the sounds he made until she could no longer, standing quietly and leaving the bedroom. Padding through the dark house, stopping in the doorway leading to the living room where a lone candle flickered in the darkness. The light illuminating Chris' face where he leaned over, elbows resting on his knees.
Ofelia felt herself begin to move in his direction when the bathroom door next to her opened. Her brown eyes meeting green as they were lit up by the candle in Alicia's hand. The younger woman looked at her apologetically before offering her the candle but Ofelia shook her head. Only to be surprised when Alicia motioned for her to follow her into the guest room. The guest room she could only assume to have been Nick's at some point. If the blue walls and black bedspread bundled at the end of the bed were any indication.
“Ofelia,” Alicia murmured quietly as she lead the way into the bedroom. Standing by the door as Ofelia walked in after her. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I'm okay, I just..” She followed Alicia with her eyes as she set the candle down on the bedside table after closing the bedroom door. “I can't sleep,” she answered truthfully.
“Neither can I.” Alicia replied as she slid back under the sheets, “you can lay down with me if you'd like.”
“I..” Ofelia began, licking her lips before taking a deep breath. Making her way slowly to the opposite side of the bed, away from Alicia and sitting down.
“Its okay, I won't try to ofelia you.”
“You.. What?” Ofelia half turned to face Alicia who suddenly began to laugh softly. “That was terrible and not funny!”
“I thought it was funny.”
“Oh whatever,” Ofelia grinned into the darkness despite the cheesy use of her name.
“Just lay down, its okay.” Alicia sat up in the bed as Ofelia laid down fully. Facing away from Alicia, staring at the wall beside her. “I still think it was funny.”
“It wasn't.” Ofelia tried to keep the laugh out of her words but failed, “okay fine.. maybe it was a little funny.”
“More than a little.”
“Only a little, go to sleep Alicia.” Ofelia pulled her knees to her chest underneath the sheets. She heard Alicia shift beside her in the bed as she laid down fully with a quiet sigh. Allowing them to fall into an easy silence, Ofelia drifting in and out of sleep until she heard her name murmured in the darkness.
“Ofelia?” Then a heartbeat later followed by a shift in the bed once more, “are you awake?”
“Yes,” she replied not turning to face Alicia, knowing she'd turned to face her. “Are you okay?”
“I'm fine.. I just, I can't stop thinking about something.”
“About what?” Ofelia asked turning over in the darkness, unable to make out Alicia's face. The candle on the bedside table long since blown out.
“Matt.” Was all Alicia said, a hint of sadness in her voice. His name falling on Ofelia's ears, a sadness filling her as well. “He.. I think he'd want me to move on.” Alicia continued and Ofelia's heart skipped a beat.
“If he truly loved you, then yes, he would want whatever made you happy but that is up to you Alicia. No one will ever say that you have to move on, no one will ever say you will have to move on from him or even forget him.”
“I know, I know but I think maybe one day I will. One day I will move on from him and find someone else to love in this crazy world... someone alive.” Alicia murmured the last part, her hand reaching out in the darkness and finding Ofelia's. Her hand warm around hers, her thumb rubbing over the back of her hand.
“You will, whenever you're ready, there will be someone there for you.” Ofelia confessed, her heart pounding in her chest at the double meaning to her own words. The lock she'd kept on the box in her chest that contained her feelings for Alicia breaking open. A certain hope flooding through her as she blushed at the feeling of Alicia's fingers on her skin.
“Ofelia,” Alicia murmured into the darkness. Her thoughts returning to the loss of Matt, to the loss of Susan. To the loss of Nick, everyone she knew and loved were slowly disappearing but as she touched Ofelia, she felt determination to not let her new found friend disappear along with them.
“Don't die, don't leave me, don't make me say goodbye to you too.” She knew it was petty, asking Ofelia to stay when she knew she had no real say in if the woman stayed or not but Ofelia's reply shocked her. Filling her with warmth once more.
“I won't die, I won't leave, I'll stay.” Ofelia blinked back tears and swallowed her fears, if Alicia wanted her to stay then she would stay. Through hell or high water, she would stay.
“I hope you're right.”
“Of course I'm right Alicia.” Ofelia murmured as Alicia's thumb slowed in movement, the younger woman finding a comfort in knowing that Ofelia wouldn't leave her like the others had. Alicia falling asleep with her hand on Ofelia but Ofelia unable to fall asleep herself. Too distracted by the feeling of Alicia touching her, too distracted by the woman's wishes on loop in her head. And in that moment Ofelia knew she was in too deep already.