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Pepper froze under Delilah’s touch, her legs buckling uncomfortably as her friend ran a hand colder than ice over her face. She found herself searching Delilah’s eyes, desperate to find any flicker of the friend she knew back home buried beneath the frosty gaze. Anything. Any sign at all that this Delilah was the same one from Alderbrook, not the bloodied monster burned deep into her mind. The Delilah who’d sit and clap cheerfully with her during the school’s plays, who’d stay up with her into the wee hours of the morning raiding the fridge and watching the musicals that they loved so dearly.

Hazy and unfocused. Anger. Fear. Desperation, maybe. That was all Pepper could find, Delilah Rivers by face and name, but not by heart and soul. It tore her up, overwhelming loss gripping tightly at her chest as Delilah smiled at her. She did everything in her power to focus on her, keep all her attention on Delilah so as not to turn around and see what she was truly capable. It was too painful. Not only to see Patrick like that, but to accept that her friend had done it.

For a moment, perhaps from years of sharing her secrets with nobody but Delilah, she wanted to tell Delilah about the meeting at the light post, tell her that they could be safe.

But no matter how much it pained her to admit it; they wouldn’t be. This Delilah was unhinged, unpredictable in what she’d do. They’d ask about Patrick and Delilah would lose it, God knows how many there’d been before him. She searched her friend’s face once more, a nervous smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

It was the first time they’d kept secrets from one another.

But if Pepper couldn’t save Patrick, she’d make sure Benny and Ramona stayed safe. She owed them that much.

Tersely, she nodded her head, forcing a small, pained ‘mm-hmm’ in agreement when Delilah wanted to get going. It pained her to watch her unceremoniously take Patrick’s bag from next to his body, barely even acknowledging that it was there. He deserved more than that. A burial and a few words, at least.

Inwardly, she promised to come back and give him one as she began walking with Delilah toward the river she mentioned.

But Pepper wouldn’t wash her hands. The blood would remind her of the boy who deserved to live a long, full life. She was guilty by association. She was. If she hadn’t been so scared, she could have stopped it.

She wouldn’t let it happen again. There wasn’t time to be timid when innocent people were dying.

She’d do better, Patrick.


** Pepper Clarke, female no. 23, continued in… Devil Nights
Edited by Mimi, Jan 27 2012, 04:41 PM.

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