It started out so simple, so blasted normal.
It's hard to believe just how quickly things can escalate. How quickly one's life can completely change. One minute, one's a nobody, just another face in the crowds. One went about their life, and nobody really cared, not really, except for those who were friends or family or maybe even just an acquaintance to that person. Occasionally, one would make an impact, and millions would know their name, especially in the age of the celebrity where the idea of privacy is completely unknown to the predatory, stalking media.
The next minute, one's face was plastered all over the internet, the news, the media. Have you seen these teenagers? Do not approach. Extremely dangerous. The authorities went on the prowl and sent out their agents, alerted various forces, corporations, and the like, and one was forced to either go into hiding or waste away the rest of their long lives in a high security prison.
That's life, they say. It could change with a snap of the fingers, the flip of the dime, sometimes for the better, most times for the worse. It is profoundly unfair.
Ana's grown uncomfortably familiar with just how fickle Lady Luck can be. Five months ago, she was an incredibly talented musician and singer, well on her way to a fantastic career and graduating with flying colors. She did swim team as an aside and was urged by her coaches to go for gold in the Olympics. She had amazing friends, and one pretty darn awesome nineteen years, though horrid luck had stricken repeatedly.
At thirteen, I saw my dad die in a car crash....
Mum was never the same after that, or much before their divorce. She is, frankly, a slut. I saw that stuff at home...
I cheated on an amazing boyfriend in high school and completely shattered his heart....
I'm a murderer.
Her musical talent and speed in the water is due to mer blood. She's been framed for a mass murder. They've been drawn into all... this, by General Jen, Linda the vampire, Adrian Stanger, Martin.... She doesn't even know who first drew them into this anymore, and doesn't care, because what does it matter?
She only ever sings to control men now. Swimming is used... when needed. Frustrations are taken out the same way free time is used: practicing fighting tactics, firing guns, hand-to-hand combat. What time was used for studies is now used for whatever comes up in this horrible war. Friends... Well.
Kathy. Dead. Josh. Dead. Sage. Dead. I killed him. I murdered him. Hayley. Hates me. Should. I tried to kill her too. Jay... I tried to kill him too... Felix... I haven't seen him in over a month. I have no idea if he's still alive or not. Wouldn't be surprised if not. Dom....
Dom loves me.
But I tried to kill him too.
Ana closes the door quietly but firmly behind herself and presses her forehead against it. Gods, they're so right. I'm a murderer. A filthy murderer. Mind-wiped or not, I did the deeds, and that's that. I scare me.
At the sound of a sharp intake of breath, Ana whips around, raising her fists.
Hayley stares at her with wide amber eyes, frozen with a book in hand.
Ana blinks and lowers her hands. She glances around the library for a long moment, desperate to avoid this conversation, yet knowing that if it doesn't happen know, it will have to at some point in the future. She sighs, studies the carpet. "Find anything you like?" She asks softly.
Hayley hums nervously, sliding the book back into place with jittery hands.
Ana looks up to meet her eyes, but Hayley's careful to avoid eye contact. She gestures sketchily towards the door, swallowing. "I'll just... Um. Leave you be. Then. Um.... Yeah."
But she doesn't move, eyes still wide even if she is avoiding Ana's gaze, because Ana's standing in front of the door. Ana takes a step forward, biting the inside of her cheek when she sees the purple and yellow bruises on Hayley's neck. Hayley shrinks back. Ana struggles to find her voice. "Listen... I... I'm really sorry. Really, really sorry..." There's a knot in her throat that's so hard to get words past. Ana takes a deep breath to steady herself, but that just makes her voice crack and her vision start to blur. "Really... I... I never meant those things I said to you. I never meant to hurt you, or Sage, or anybody.... Let alone try t-... to kill you. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Hayley still won't meet her gaze, fidgeting with her hands. "Yeah... I know." She sighs and licks her lips. "But... You did mean what you said, at the time. I... I saw it. In your eyes. And it hurt. And it still hurts."
"I don't doubt it...." Ana sniffs and runs a hand through her hair. "And I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I-"
Hayley raises her eyes to look at her silently. Ana can't find the words to continue.
The silence stretches on and on until Hayley whispers. "-didn't mean it? But you did. You had to have... I-I believe you when you say that you weren't yourself, that someone had altered your mind... But you used things I had confided to you, to Kathy, against me." Her eyes are glassy. "And that's not okay."
"I know." Ana says softly, biting her lip hard.
"But...." Hayley blows out a breath, looking like she has to struggle for the words. "I can forgive you for the... the other stuff. What you... did to Sage... And me. I know you weren't you. I just... don't know when."
Ana nods, brushing the back of her hand across her face. "I understand."
Hayley glances at the book she'd put away, then at the door, then to the floor, fidgeting some more. Ana creases her brow. "Do you... Is there a chance that we can ever be... You know. Friends again?"
Hayley stays quiet for a long minute. Finally, she looks up at her with a sad smile that fades as soon as it appears. "You have a tendency of crashing into people's lives, you know."
She laughs shakily. "Yeah. You're lucky I didn't break your nose."
"And it's... it's great," Hayley continues. "You're great, you're a great person, Ana. Passionate. You just kind of sweep people along on your whirlwind and they can either hang on and enjoy the ride or get dumped off. And of our group.... Of our group... There's only me,....you..., Jay, and Dom left. But... I think I... Well... I think I'm... I...."
Ana closes her eyes. When she opens them again, it's to meet Hayley's. "Done?" She asks quietly. "Finished?"
Hayley looks pained and her eyebrows furrow as she obviously fights back tears. "Y-yeah... I'm sorry... I don't want to hurt anybody, it's just...."
"I understand." Ana turns away. "I'll leave you to your books then. I was just looking to be alone anyway."
"N-no, it's okay, you can stay, I just...."
Ana opens the door and steps through it. "It's fine. I'd do the same." She closes it softly behind herself and walks to a dark corner of the place, carefully controlling her breathing. She slides down the wall to the floor and holds her head in her hands.
Everything's just so fucked up now. And it can't be fixed.
Amazing how quickly one can lose one of their best friends.
"Gods." She whispers to the floor. "Why does everything have to be so complicated?"