A tale of weddings, betrayal, murder, and revenge. He never really liked the comparison of knots with marriage. It always made him picture someone tying a noose and hanging themselves. Marriage is ...
"Keep glaring," Gerard told her. "It won't get you anywhere."
"What do you want from me?" Scarlett finally asked.
Gerard smiled, but gave no answer. He only said, "What do you plan to do after you kill me?"
Scarlett, surprised with the question, replied, "Get on with my life."
"What life?" Gerard asked. "I thought the only reason you wanted to live was to kill me. Avenge your sister's murderer. But what happens after that?"
Scarlett kept silent. Not because she didn't want to answer, but because she honestly didn't have one.
What does happen in the end? What happens to the hero when all of his duties are fulfilled?
"Isn't it ironic?" Gerard laughed. "I'm the reason you're still living."
Scarlett could feel the emptiness in her chest. Her heart covered in layers of cobwebs, a still stone crushing her lungs that listlessly worked to keep her alive. Since Annie's burial, her pulse had not returned. There was silence inside of her body with only the whispers of weak breath echoing through the abandoned cave. And she knew that Gerard was right.
"Maybe I'll die, too," Scarlett said softly. "Maybe death is my reward."
"If death is a reward, then just call me a fucking saint," Gerard replied with a grin.
"You didn't have to kill my sister or all of those other girls just because you've been wronged by a single woman," Scarlett began. "You're not the only one who's been screwed over by love."
She knew that she had to bleed a little to get out of there. Even if it meant reopening old wounds.
"You think I'd be over it by now? That it's so easy to let go after every year?" Gerard spat, his anger rising slowly.
"I understand," Scarlett said, trying to soothe down her tone. "Two years isn't nearly enough time to heal."
"Two?" Gerard laughed. "Try 19 years."
"19 years?" Scarlett asked. "What happened 19 years ago?"
"I learned the truth," Gerard whispered.
As much as she didn't want to admit it, Shirley knew there was nothing any of them could do but wait. She drove Bob and Ray to her apartment and invited them to stay until they hear anything about Scarlett. She picked Zuri up from school and tucked her in at night. It was getting later and later and still there was no word from Scarlett.
Ray had fallen asleep on the couch, too tired and worried to stay awake. At least in his sleep, he was much more relaxed. There was no need to panic, yet. Bob paced around quietly in deep thought. He was so lost in his thinking that he didn't notice Shirley's gaze.
"I think she's going to be alright," Shirley spoke out to him. "She's a strong woman."
"Always has been," Bob agreed, recalling their childhood.
"Maybe she should think of becoming a cop," Shirley suggested, trying to lighten the mood.
"She breaks the law more than she protects it," Bob joked. "But let's keep that between you and me."
Shirley lightly laughed. It was nice to have a normal conversation after that exhausting search for information and clues. Shirley loved to joke her way out of her nervousness and she was more than glad to find someone who did the same.
"I know she's going to come back alive," Shirley said, resting her hand on Bob's shoulder. "But do you think the killer is going to come back with her?"
"That's only if she hadn't killed him already," Bob replied. He felt the firm hold her warm hand had against his skin, met her eyes, and smiled at her silent security. Shirley couldn't help but to smile back.
This was her escape. Scarlett knew that if she sat through Gerard's story, she could convince him to let her go. Bring his guard down and then attack. There was no use building up his temper. She needed to do the complete opposite.
"Gerard, what happened?" Scarlett asked, imitating Ray's gentle tone.
Gerard turned his back to her as he closed his eyes, going back in time to face his demons.
"The reason I kept silent about everything was to protect my brother," Gerard began. "And now that there's nothing left to protect, I shouldn't be haunted by it anymore. But I am. And I don't know why. What's keeping me from confronting it? Mikey's gone. There shouldn't be anymore secrets."
"Is that why you killed Mikey?" Scarlett asked. "So you wouldn't have to protect him anymore?"
"I didn't kill Mikey!" Gerard hissed, turning around to glare at Scarlett. He was sick of being accused of killing someone he genuinely loved. Not Bianca, but Mikey of all people. His own brother that he cared more about than he'd ever like to admit.
"Then what happened that night?" Scarlett questioned, after giving him time to calm himself.
"I wasn't planning on killing Mikey or Bianca that night!" Gerard proclaimed. "I was going to kill myself."
He lowered his voice and looked Scarlett in the eyes.
"You know what it's like to lose the person you grew up with your whole life," he said, almost quizzically.
"The person you grew up protecting," Scarlett whispered in agreement.
"I bought a gun the year before I met Bianca," Gerard told her. "Ray talked me out of doing it the first time. But I knew that Ray wasn't going to be there that night and, if he was, nothing he had to say would make a difference."
"And yet, you're still here," Scarlett added.
"I was going to do it," Gerard assured her. "I wouldn't be here now if Mikey hadn't taken my gun. He took it from my apartment because he knew what I was going to do. He saved me, but I couldn't save him."
Scarlett gave Gerard a questioning look, waiting for him to elaborate.
"When I went to get the gun back, I heard them arguing," Gerard continued. "I couldn't hear what it was about, but it was getting intense. Then I heard it. A gunshot."
"Bianca shot your brother," Scarlett clarified, she felt a pang of sympathy in her stomach, knowing the exact pain of a murdered sibling.
"I didn't have the key to his apartment and I didn't know what I was doing, but I banged on the door until Bianca let me in. She locked the door behind me with the gun in her other hand. I didn't know where Mikey's body was. I didn't let myself look down."
Scarlett remembered forcing her eyes not to look toward Annie's casket.
"We argued and suddenly she was pointing the gun at me. And she fired," Gerard paused and touched the scar Bianca left that night. He could've sworn he felt it reopen. "I could feel myself bleeding to death, but I was still conscious. I saw her drop the gun and she was hysteric, knowing that she just shot two people. She ran to the livingroom and she cried so loud that she didn't even notice she hadn't killed me. I took the gun and followed where she went. She was covering her eyes with her hands and her head was buried into the sofa. It was an easy aim. And, in the back of my mind, all I could think of was that Mikey was gone."
Scarlett caught a glimpse of the lone tear that fell down Gerard's cheek. She saw his bottom lip quiver and heard him sharply inhale.
"I should've died that night. Not Mikey," Gerard's voice broke off into a silent sob.
"My boyfriend shot me," Scarlett confessed. "He shot me and then he shot himself because he was afraid of living as a convict."
Gerard looked back at Scarlett as if he were contemplating on untying her. He was trying to read her, trying to see if the pain in her eyes were sincere. He could tell it was real only because he had been through the same thing. Scarlett was crying and he knew that she wasn't faking. He watched her almost in amusement as she let loose what she had been holding back for years. It was beautiful how human she looked, hurt and vulnerable, her cold image melting into a pool of tears and seeping through her glassy eyes. For once, she let them escape and the weight she carried seemed to lighten in the smallest bit.
"Gerard," Scarlett pleaded. "Please, let me go."
"Not yet," he declined, cupping her face with his hand and wiping her tears off with his thumb.
"What else could you want from me?!" Scarlett asked, raising her voice in exhaustion. "Just let me go!"
"Can you tell Ray that I'm sorry?" Gerard sighed.
"Oh yeah right," Scarlett scoffed. "I'm sure he'll really send you his forgiveness."
"He was my best friend," Gerard began. "And he didn't deserve what happened."
"You're right. He didn't deserve it," Scarlett snapped. "The love of his life was murdered."
"The love of his life was a fake," Gerard countered. "I saw her with another man. Three nights after I escaped from the hospital."
"And you killed her..."
Scarlett couldn't help but wonder what Gerard was trying to accomplish with the murders. Maybe it wasn't just a cry for revenge.
"Those things don't exist," Gerard told her. "We all want to believe that there's such a thing as true love and living happily ever after, but that's just assuming that you keep up with the lie. I killed them all for a reason."
"My sister didn't cheat on Frank," Scarlett protested. "She's not a whore."
"But she has the face of one," Gerard replied.
He took out an old photograph from his pocket. Slowly, he unfolded it and he scowled inwardly at the image before him. In one quick motion, he tossed it toward Scarlett.
"Is this...," Scarlett cut herself off.
She was almost convinced that the woman in the picture was Annie. But as she looked closer, she noticed that her bone structure was much more sharper and her face was much less soft and round like Annie's. Bianca was almost a splitting image of her sister.
"Just because she looked like that bitch doesn't mean she was like her! You don't even know Annie! You didn't know her like I did! And maybe if you did, you would've even fallen in love with her!" Scarlett shouted and cursed at him.
"There's no such thing as falling in love," Gerard sneered. "You're only lying to yourself."
"But there is such a thing as loving someone! Like I loved Annie!" she screamed. "Like you loved Mikey."
Gerard paused. It was the first time in two years that anyone had really brought up the memory of his brother. The night he left town, he remembered glancing at passing faces hoping to find him. Sometimes, he swore that he did, but would only look up to a stranger's face. The night Bianca killed him, he had the urge to look for his brother's body. But he couldn't bring himself to confirm what he feared. He'd rather remember Mikey as the kid he grew up with. Not the bloodied corpse Bianca left behind.
Then, he remembered Annie. She was a small girl and small veins bled rapidly. He remembered her inhale her last breath as her eyes widened in fear and anticipation of what was to come. There was a splash of guilt that overcame him after the kill. The look on her face, the faint twist of her lips, and the dried tears of mascara were as vivid in his mind as his own childhood. It was a different kill from all of the others. He shed the blood of an innocent and he knew that he was out of control. For two years, he had made a living of killing women who had wronged their lovers. But now he was just killing mindlessly and there was no justification for Annie's death.
"I didn't mean to kill your sister," Gerard apologized. "I went to a church the next day after I did it. I couldn't get her off of my mind."
"But it didn't bring her back," Scarlett murmured through gritted teeth.
The repenting expression he wore only further angered her. She hated him so much. She hated the fact that perhaps if he was not this matrimonial murderer, he might have been her soul mate. She heard him whisper an "I'm sorry" and it sent her over the edge. She lifted her legs and kicked. He was close enough to absorb the full impact as he fell backwards on the cold ground.
"You bitch!" Gerard cursed, as he got up and pushed her to her side from her sitting position.
Scarlett's eyes closed on instinct as her head hit the ground. She felt light-headed from both starvation and exhaustion. When she reopened them, Gerard was holding the knife inches above her throat.
"Do it," Scarlett dared him, narrowing her eyes. "Kill me like you did Annie."
Suddenly, he lifted the knife and stroke it past her cheek, leaving a small cut underneath her left eye. His hand shook as he threatened her with the weapon again. Gerard couldn't understand the fearlessness in Scarlett's eyes. Her dark brown shone from the evening sky and he saw fireballs behind her glare. A small waterfall of blood emerged from the fresh wound, but she hinted no sign of pain or weakness. He didn't know what he was doing anymore. He was about to kill another innocent girl. Maybe it was Annie's spirit that stirred up his conscience because the next thing he knew, he was bringing the knife behind her back and cutting through the rope.
"Go," Gerard told her, as he severed the last strand.
Scarlett immediately stood up and stretched out her aching arms and legs. She contemplated wrestling the knife out of his hands, but all she wanted was to go home. She headed for the door, but the sound of Gerard's breathing made her turn back. He was watching her leave with an expectant look in his eyes. He wasn't the cold-blooded killer she expected to see, but a desperate soul that longed for some kind of redemption. She took a step toward him and he took a step back. Gerard was afraid of her and she could see him shrink down before her. And she realized that she actually wanted to know the truth before she left.
"Can you tell me?" Scarlett asked. "What happened 19 years ago?"
Gerard, uncertain about her change of heart, thought about what she was requesting. He still held his knife firmly in one hand. He wasn't too sure if she was tricking him to his death so he threw the weapon behind him where neither of them could reach it. He walked toward her and touched the cut he left on her face. It was going to scar just like he intended.
"You won't forget me after this night," he promised her. "Because I know I won't live to see tomorrow."
His eyes fluttered shut for a moment as he took a deep breath, preparing to reopen the last and biggest of his scars. The moment he let the first word escape his lips, he already felt the blood flowing internally. Tonight was his last night.
"I was only a kid and I had already seen more than I wanted to . . ."
10 year-old Gerard Way pedaled with all of his strength as he successfully nailed the sharp turn around the mail box and passed the finishing line he had drawn on the street with chalk.
"I win!" he declared, watching his younger brother struggle to make the same turn with his bicycle.
"No fair!" Mikey whined. "Can we do a rematch?"
"No! This is the 4th race we've done! I won fair and square!" Gerard refused.
"Aww...it's not fair! You have longer legs than me!" Mikey complained, unaware that he would grow up one day to be taller than his brother.
Gerard shook his head and continued watching Mikey pedal towards the finish line. He loved how his brother, regardless of knowing he would fail, still pushed to finish what he had started. He would never tell him how truly proud of him he was. There was a loud scratching noise as Mikey's bike tire collided with a large rock, sending the small child on the ground in tears. Instinctively, Gerard ran to his side to examine his injuries. Mikey had skinned his knee and arm pretty badly.
"Am I gonna die, Gerard?" Mikey cried, watching the blood seep out of his skin.
Gerard couldn't help himself from laughing. He helped Mikey up and sat him down on the porch.
"You'll be fine," Gerard assured him, running his hands over his hair to mess it up as a sign of affection. "I'm going inside to get the first aid kit. Just stay here and don't touch your cuts or you'll make it worse."
"Okay," Mikey agreed, taking Gerard's warning to heart.
Before Gerard could reach the doorknob, Mikey exclaimed, "Wait!"
"Mom said we aren't allowed to go inside."
"It's an emergency, Mikey. We're allowed to go inside if it's an emergency!" Gerard explained.
"She didn't say anything about a 'mergency!" Mikey replied. "If she gets mad, it's your fault!"
"Whatever," Gerard shrugged, as he went inside.
He made his way into the bathroom and sorted through the medicine cabinet for the first aid kit. When he finally found it, he headed back toward the front door. He heard his mother's faint voice from the bedroom upstairs, assuming she was on the phone. It was only until he heard a man's voice did he turn around. He knew his father was at work and he wanted to know who the strange visitor was. He had watched dozens of TV shows where evil men came through the bedroom window to kidnap innocent women. So it was just natural for Gerard to scurry up the stairs in curiosity.
"Mom?!" he called out. But she didn't seem to hear.
As he approached his parents' bedroom, he heard that his mom was actually laughing. She had been acting weird for the past couple of months. It seemed every weekend, when his father worked overtime, she would wake Mikey and him up and tell them to play outside and stay there until she told them to come in. Could someone have been coming over every weekend while they slumbered and left when their mother told them to come inside and go straight to their rooms? It certainly explained her weird behavior. Maybe she had a secret friend come over every weekend that she didn't want anyone to know about, Gerard thought. It made sense to him, since he was sometimes reluctant to share the same friends with Mikey. Sometimes, he just wished he had his own friend to himself. He stood in front of the door and decided to tell his mother that he understood and that there was no need to hide her friend from him.
"Mom?" he called out again, as he opened the door.
"Gerard!" she screamed, as she covered her naked body with the bed sheets. The man who was with her did the same and laughed.
"Cute kid," he simply said as he winked toward an agape Gerard.
"Gerard, go downstairs," his mother ordered. "I'll be down in a minute to talk to you."
But Gerard stood frozen in the doorway, not sure what was going on.
"NOW!" she shrieked, her nervousness evident in her voice.
Gerard ran downstairs, confused and afraid of what he might've done to upset her. He heard his mother yelling upstairs at the man, who yelled back. He overheard a string of words he was forbidden to use including the curses he wasn't yet familiar with. Then, there was a door slam as the man stomped downstairs with his clothes wrinkled and carelessly thrown on.
"See ya around, Kid," he told Gerard as he exited the house. Gerard never did see that man again.
It was only a minute later that his mother finally made her way downstairs in her bath robe. She took a seat next to Gerard and glared at her son. Gerard looked up at her innocently, hoping for a spark of sympathy. Suddenly, she lashed out and smacked him across the face. Her sharp nails left behind a few marks on his cheek. He cried out and begged for an explanation. Then, she snapped. She sent a flurry of slaps and scratches all over his body as he sobbed helplessly for her to stop. It was only when she was tired and satisfied did she cease the beating, leaving a frightened, sniffling Gerard to curl up into the couch's arm and bury his face in tears.
"You listen to me, Gerard," his mother hissed, as she pulled him out of his position and made sure he was facing her. "You are to never to tell anyone about what just happened today!"
"What did I do wrong, Mama?" he yearned to know. He hadn't called her 'Mama' since he was a small child, but he wasn't feeling very big at that moment.
"You ruined it for me!" she spat. "Now he's never coming back."
"Who was that man?"
"It's not your concern as to who he is," his mother snapped. "You are not to tell anyone what you saw, understand?!"
Gerard nodded weakly, afraid to question her any further.
"And if you do," she warned. "All of this will be gone. This house, your father, and even your brother."
Gerard's eyes widened in fear of losing the things he loved, most of all, his only brother.
"They'll take your brother away and you'll never see Mikey, again!" she threatened. "Understand?! You tell no one."
She clutched his face in her hand and punctured his freshly scratched cheeks with her nails.
"Yes, Mama," he whimpered.
"Go back outside," she demanded, letting him go.
Gerard ran out of the front door, desperate to get away from the woman he couldn't recognize as his own mother. He didn't even realize that he had left the first aid kit behind.
19 years later, there he stood. Still bearing the burden his mother placed upon him, even when his brother was long gone. A part of him still feared the worst if he were to divulge the secret. Even if he knew his life was never going to get any better. Scarlett was the only person he told and she had already made the decision of keeping his secret. She would never repeat the words that came out of his lips. It scared even her to think that such a nightmare occurred.
"Goodbye Scarlett," Gerard said softly. He turned away to hide his tear-stained face. "I'll see you later."
"Goodbye Gerard," Scarlett replied, unsure if he even heard her.
And she ran.
She ran out of the unknown territory, hoping her gut would lead her to a safe place. At the same time, she could feel her own tears slashing through her face. The rushing wind freezing them against her skin, slowly numbing her flesh.
Shirley jumped the second her phone rang. She dozed off for a few minutes, but her body alerted itself instantly out of habit. After all, she was a policewoman.
"Hello?" she answered, anxiously.
Bob and Ray appeared at her side, holding their breaths.
"Scarlett!" Shirley exclaimed. "Where are you?!"
Finally, they fully exhaled. She was alive. Scarlett had called them from a payphone, begging them to come get her. Shirley wrote down the address and they were ready to go. She had to wake up her next door neighbor to look after Zuri while they were gone on an "important investigation." Neither of them knew what to expect or what became of the killer.
Scarlett was in a part of the city that she never even knew existed. It was definitely colder on that side and she could do nothing but cling on to her thin jacket. She felt like an abandoned and beaten girlfriend with her bleeding cheek and her ripped jeans. She had been running for awhile and hadn't noticed that her jacket sleeves and the knees of her pants were starting to tear, probably from when Gerard had pushed her. People walked past her like she was a normal civilian. She seemed to blend in with all of the drug dealers and teenage prostitutes that wandered around at that hour. She wasn't a sight they hadn't seen before. It had been almost an hour since she called Shirley for help, but it seemed like forever waiting on that lonely bus stop bench.
She was scared. And this time, she had no trouble admitting it. She didn't want to kill Gerard anymore. She just wanted to get the hell out of there and store the events of that day in her forgotten pile, right next to Brent. She thought about Gerard's life, how he grew up knowing that marriage and love weren't always as genuine as they seemed, only to have it confirmed at his own wedding date. Maybe he was right, she thought. She had never seen it work before. The truest love from her sister and her fiance was destroyed in front of her eyes. Was it an impossible thing? It didn't matter to her anymore; she wasn't looking for love. All she was looking for was some state of peace and acceptance. She wanted to forget everything that had happened in her life. She wanted to give up her memories for something better, something simpler than what was before her.
She felt like she was walking in purgatory, different from the living. Her body was alive, but she felt like she was missing something. She was certain her soul had disappeared. There was no replacing of a soul. She could no longer hear its heartbeat, the rhythm that guided her through life. She was completely alone for she could no longer love what she once had. When she died, what would God have to deliver? A pile of decaying flesh? Maybe she would just cease to exist.
She turned around to find Shirley running towards her and engulfing her with her arms as soon as their bodies collided. Scarlett said nothing as she rested her head on her friend's shoulder. She was so lost in that same state of mind that she couldn't even feel relieved that the group of people that cared about her the most was standing in front of her.
"Are you alright, Scarlett?" Bob asked, noticing the distant gaze in her eyes.
She shook her head.
"What's wrong?" Shirley asked, letting her go to find the same foreign expression. "What did he do to you?"
She said nothing.
"Where is he?! I swear I'll kill him," Bob threatened.
Scarlett turned away and found herself facing Ray. She hadn't noticed that he was there or maybe she just didn't care to notice. She was thankful that he wasn't asking any questions. He stepped forward as he read her as clear as a window drenched in raindrops. The vision blurry, but comprehensible. She refused to look him in the eyes, but did nothing as he stepped forward to lift her chin to meet his understanding gaze. He ran his thumb against the dried blood under her eye and knew. He had been left with that same scar.
"Scarlett, where is Gerard?" Shirley asked, placing her hand on Scarlett's shoulder.
Scarlett looked toward the place she ran from. She knew that she could easily trace her steps back, but she wasn't sure she wanted to. What kind of satisfaction would she get for killing him? It wouldn't bring back Annie or Frank. It wouldn't erase the scar that he left or the one that Brent left. It was pointless and she was sick of playing the revenge game. She was tired and she had given up.
"Please, Scarlett," Ray asked. "Tell us where he is."
Gerard ran as fast as he could from the store. He had stolen a gun and it wouldn't be long before the store owner came back out of inventory and called the cops. He had to go back to hiding. There were only two bullets inside of it. But he only needed one.
As much as she didn't want to, Scarlett led the way to the abandoned warehouse. Secretly, she hoped Gerard wouldn't be there just so they could leave and put the day behind them. They were getting closer and she had a feeling that her hopes were about to be realized. They stepped inside the cold, dark building and heard nothing but the echoes of their feet.
"Where are you?!" Shirley called out, scanning her flashlight across the scene.
"He's not here," Scarlett replied. "Let's just go home."
"Scarlett," Bob said worriedly, firmly pressing his palms on both of her shoulders. "What the fuck is wrong with you? You're never like this."
"I just want to leave," Scarlett whispered. "I just want this to stop."
"It's not going to stop if we leave," Bob reasoned. "You never quit, Scarlett."
"Maybe it's time that I do," Scarlett sighed.
All three of them were afraid. They had never seen Scarlett so defeated. She always had a spark in her eye, something that charged out of her being that warned others to back off. Now it seemed she didn't care about anything anymore. That she had fallen and didn't care enough to get up.
"What did he do to her?" Bob asked out loud.
Scarlett looked to the ground examining the dirt, wishing she was part of it once again. It was quiet save the symphony of owls and crickets. Scarlett glanced up to find a figure in the distance. She instantly knew who it was. The moonlight shone on his newly stolen weapon. Ray followed her stare and saw him, too.
"Gerard," Ray said, sounding almost as if he were welcoming him.
"Shirley!" Bob motioned for her to pull out her gun and she complied, targeting Gerard's heart.
"Ray, I'm sorry," Gerard said, walking closer so that the moon would illuminate his face.
"Why did you kill her?" Ray asked the question he had always been burning to ask.
"She was lying to you," Gerard told him. "I saw her with someone else."
"What?" Ray was afraid to believe it. "No. That's not possible. That's-she wouldn't do that."
"Impossible?" Gerard shook his head. "It happened to me, didn't it?"
"But-," Ray was out of excuses. Had he been mourning two years for a liar?
"I'm sorry," Gerard apologized again. "You're the best friend I ever had."
Ray wanted to forgive him, but he knew that he could never fully get himself to do it. He said nothing and offered a faint and sympathetic smile.
"What did you do to my cousin?!" Bob yelled.
"I told her everything," Gerard explained. "It's up to her whether she wants to talk or not."
"Why did you kill Annie?!" Bob asked, grabbing the gun from Shirley and pointing it toward Gerard's head.
"Ask her," Gerard said, motioning toward Scarlett.
"You leave her out of this, you bastard," Bob cursed, fuming from behind the gun.
"I don't want to hurt anyone," Gerard replied. "Please, just leave me alone."
"Not after what you've done to my family!" Bob snapped, lowering the gun and pulling the trigger.
Gerard screamed in pain as his side felt the familiar sting of a bullet. He looked down and felt the damp moisture spreading through the fresh hole in his shirt. Bianca's scar had reopened. He looked at them helplessly and ran. He heard shots ring out, but he seemed to dodge them. He blindly aimed the gun behind him and fired.
"Ray!" Shirley exclaimed, as she helped him get up.
Gerard had shot him just below his heart. He was still conscious and in great pain as he clutched the wound. Scarlett remained silent as more of the tears she had kept hidden in the past drained through the rims of her eyes. She knew what she had to do.
"Shirley, get him to the hospital! I'm going after him!" Bob stated, as he helped Shirley support Ray's body.
"No," Scarlett replied, taking the gun from Bob's hand. "I'm going after him."
"I don't want you to get hurt," Bob refused, grabbing the gun back.
"He can't possibly hurt me anymore," Scarlett insisted. "I have to do this."
"Take care of yourself," Bob reluctantly gave her back the weapon. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Bob," she said, kissing him on the cheek, leaving her childhood habit behind.
She sprinted toward the direction Gerard ran.
He had no idea where he was going. He just knew that he wasted a bullet on someone he cared about. Gerard hoped that Ray would someday forgive him. He knew that Scarlett was trying to find him and he stopped in his tracks, waiting for her.
Scarlett found herself back in the city, pushing past those who got in her way. Most of them backed off the minute they saw the gun in her hand. It was time to end it and, as for what happens to the hero, she was about to find out. She passed buildings and buildings until she stopped in front of the tallest one-the church. Gerard was standing right in front of it, as if he had been expecting her. She stepped closer, aiming the gun shakily.
He flashed his signature grin as he tossed his own gun in front of him, leaving him defenseless and vulnerable. There was more of a slouch in his posture as he covered his bloody side with one hand.
"My downfall," he called Scarlett, smiling in acceptance of the inevitable.
Scarlett lowered the gun and ran toward him. She stood close enough so that she could feel his breath on her skin. She couldn't do it. It wasn't her decision whether to send him to Hell or deliver him from evil. They ended up in a place of worship, and she knew that she had to save him. It was time to forgive her enemy and guide him to his final crossing. Let God take care of the rest.
"Repent, Gerard," she told him.
He looked up at the church behind him and knelt to the ground, closing his eyes in prayer. Scarlett knelt with him and said her own internal prayer. The second Gerard reopened his eyes, she lightly pushed his chest, hinting him to lay down. He did as he looked up at the night sky for the last time.
"Forgive me, Father. For I have sinned," he said softly, releasing his own tears from the past.
Scarlett made the sign of the cross over his body and asked God for the strength for what she was about to do. She pressed the gun against Gerard's chest, over his heart.
"May God be with you," Scarlett whispered sincerely, running her hands through his hair. She could see the lost child in his eyes. His innocence bleeding with his tears.
"And also with you," he replied, glancing at her in anticipation.
Scarlett shut her eyes tightly and took a deep breath. Her finger twitched as it rested itself on the trigger. She prayed God would save them all. The people who were killed as well as the killer himself. What happens in the end? She pulled the trigger and the blast instantly deafened her. The liquid that splashed on her arm and forehead kept her warm from the cold wind. She looked up toward the stars, they seemed to swirl around her. Her destiny had been fulfilled. What happens in the end? She dropped the gun, her eyes still skyward. The weight in her chest became so heavy that it finally exploded, its sharp pieces piercing her from the inside. Colors danced before her as she laid herself down next to Gerard's body.
Then everything went black
There was a white light in front of her. Was she supposed to run toward it? It burned to stare directly at it, but her eyes couldn't seem to escape it. She called out to Annie, but there was no response. The burning seemed to go through her eyes and swallow her from the inside. She could feel the flames lick her from within, yet it wasn't as painful as she expected. It seemed to lift her and she was overcome with its heat.
She had woken up.
"Scarlett," Ray called her softly.
He was right by her side, with a bandage around his wound. The nurse only allowed one person to wait in the room and Shirley and Bob agreed that Ray should be the one she woke up to.
"Is it over?" she asked.
"It's over," he assured her, holding her against his chest and stroking her hair.
Scarlett absorbed the warmth in his body, filling her insides like chocolate on a winter night. It was over. She closed her eyes in exhaustion and relief. There was a tiny stirring inside of her. She silently rejoiced at the sound and fell asleep to the beat of her new pulse. The phoenix had risen from its ashes.