10 || a not-so-small gift of normal nights

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"YOU DID punch her in the face, Monroe."

Cameron and Monroe had become friends over the course of Monroe's suspension, somehow. Cameron had come over the day after Levi, looking almost offended that he had beaten her to showing up at Monroe's and playing the role of good, concerned friend. But then she'd simply dropped onto Monroe's living room sofa and proceeded to demand that Monroe watch a movie with her, de-stress herself a bit.

For such a quiet and polite girl, Cameron really knew how to use a tone of authority. 

Monroe sighed, hunching over the lunch table the two were sitting at. "I just want to apologize, not repeatedly punch her in the face or something," she said, casting a glance over at the girl whose nose was in an uncomfortable looking bandage.

She had been avoiding Monroe all day, literally running down the hall each time Monroe came even within five feet of her. Once upon a time, Monroe would have enjoyed such a thing, being avoided like the plague and not having to deal with probing questions and glances, but that didn't seem so wonderful when she was trying to get out an apology that had been eating at her since her fist had gotten to meet the girl's nose.

"I know you're feeling guilty, but you can only do so much, you know?" Cameron pointed out, the voice of reason, sipping from an over-sized juice box.

Monroe sighed, scrubbing her hands back through her hair, leg tapping beneath the cafeteria table. "You know what? You're right. It's not like she didn't deserve to be knocked down a peg or two," Monroe said, not sure if she was trying more to convince herself or Cameron.

Maybe if she said it enough she'd start to believe it and be able to at least ignore the press of guilt inside her stomach.

They ate the rest of their lunch in silence, Cameron's eyes rapidly skimming the pages of a textbook, presumably cramming for some test Monroe hadn't been told about during her suspension. With pages of unfinished homework still on her desk at home, Monroe still had quite a bit of catching up to do.

Somehow, though, that didn't seem all that important in the grand scheme of things. The way she was going, the path that she was on, had lately begun to lead her to believe that not only had she made more colossal mistakes than the average person her age, but had also probably helped along the progression of her own failed future.

And yet, with the scabbed over flesh of her knuckles and the anger still in her heart, even that didn't seem as important as the here and now; the here and now that still had revenge to be fulfilled and boys to be destroyed.

THERE WAS something about looking back on one's past, taking a moment to compare the old you to the current one, that made people wary.

For Monroe, that was even weirder. If she were to look in a mirror now, she'd see the dark hair and freckles she'd grown up with, tethering her to her family with that particular expression of genes. That one chipped tooth she had, two to the left of her front teeth that she'd gotten when she was eight, would also still be there.

Past all that, though, beneath it all, she could see the scars of years of fighting. She could see the remnants of too many busted lips, the skin healing and healing time and time again. She could see, of course, the busted knuckles, the darkened fingers. But beneath even that, the outer stuff, the things that scarred and bruised and raised questions, she could see what she'd had to grab and stab at to get to where she was.

If inspected hard enough, she could see her own pain in her eyes. She could see the remains of her brother's smile, the crinkles by his young eyes, the freckles he had that matched hers so unmistakably. She could see, could remember, the times she'd laid on the hard ground, gravel and stone and cement embedding themselves into her palms and the backs of her thighs as she literally fought and kicked her way from the bottom. She could almost still see and taste the blood filling her mouth if she looked hard enough into the past, focused just enough to distinguish the colors bleeding together and taste anything but her own fiery need to prove something.

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