Anchored

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Keeping myself from looking into her eyes, I slowly walk out of the room with my head down.  As I get closer and closer to the waiting room I can hear everybody in there, trying to figure out where they're supposed to go. At first I don't think they see me and I slowly lift my head to look at all of them. They're all here: Jemma, Carrie, Michael, John, and even James. I wasn't sure if he'd come or not. Jemma is the first one to notice me, and I guess she can tell something's happened by the look in my eyes. She immediately goes quiet, and like a domino effect everyone shut's up and turns towards me; but I'm only paying attention to one of them. Michael. When he turns around I stare at him, hoping I won't have to say the words and he can just see it in my eyes.

However I see him fighting it, not wanting to know the truth, not wanting to lose another person. Squeezing my eyes shut and taking a deep, although shaky, breath I take a step closer to him. He takes a step back as if he can run from it, and I know my face flashes to protectiveness as I look into the eyes that remind me of my own.

"Don't. We can't run away from this, because it's still going to be here no matter how far we go."

He shakes his head, and his eyes look glassy so I keep going as an even fiercer  protectiveness rises up inside of me.

"Michael. Please."

His mouth opens and I watch him try to guard himself. As if I'm going to jump him, and I know there's only one thing that will get through to him; I just hope it still works.

My voice barely even a whisper I quietly say, "I made a promise, Michael. It's going to be okay, it will."

He looks at me with barely any hope, and mouths 'help me'. My heart feels like it's cracking again, but I'm so close. I can pull him back, away from the crashing and terrible waves of grief, that can pull you under so easily. Knowing he needs an anchor I slightly tilt up my lips and say in a strong and determined voice,

"I'm still here. And I still love you, Michael. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon."

I see this gets through to him so for the last strike, I open my arms and take a step forward and say it again.

"I love you, Michael. I'm here and I'm not leaving anytime soon. I promise."

He finally breaks and I see the tears start to pour down his face and he takes three steps forward, so I take the last one and engulf him in my arms as he folds into me trying to hide from the world. Letting out a shaky breath I try to fight back my own tears but two manage to escape. Biting my upper lip I hold Michael even tighter as the image of aunt April flashes through my mind. Lifting my head up I see everyone staring at the two of us with pain filled eyes.

Giving them all the best smile I could come up with, I slowly stood up with Michael still clinging to me.

"Thank you guys for coming," my voice came out in a whisper and I could see their faces get set into a deeper sadness. One of the nurse's that tried to bring her back slowly approaches us now.  She looks at me, and I already know what she's going to say.

"I'm so sorry. She didn't make it. I'm also sorry that you had to witness that. It isn't fair or right that you had to be there when it happened, and I just wanted to offer my condolences."

"Thank you."

She gives me a sad and pitiful smile as I slowly turn towards the doors with Michael. He's stopped crying but I don't think he's going to become unattached anytime soon. I can feel and hear my friends flocking behind us as we all walk out of the hospital together. They all herd me and Michael to one of their cars, but I can't even focus enough to find out which one it is. Everyone piles into the vehicles, and we head out, but I'm not paying attention anymore. Instead I'm thinking about my aunt's last words. Our last conversation. Who is he? What did she mean? Did someone purposefully try to kill my aunt? Closing my eyes tight I try to ignore these thoughts, as a fresh wave of sadness tries to pull me under.

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Feeling the car stop I quickly look up and see that we're at the house. Mine and Michael's. There's no one else now. Looking in the front seat I see James, and he quickly makes eye contact in the rear-view mirror. The fire burning in his eyes, the strength, it somehow pulls me back into myself and I open the car door. Dragging myself and Michael out of the car I see everyone else has followed us. Heading up our front porch steps I open up the door and quickly go inside, knowing everyone else will follow me in. Taking Michael upstairs, I lay him down in his own bed and tuck him in. He was out as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Quietly standing up I leave his room as fast as I can, closing his door gently behind me. Taking slow, deliberate steps towards the stair case I almost make it. About a foot from the first step is when it hits me. Bending over on myself I feel the pain, fear, and uncertainty slam against me trying to tear me apart. A little voice in the back of my head whispers: Well what's the plan now? What are you going to do? Huh? I'll tell you. You've failed. You couldn't keep the family  together, and this is what happened. Are you happy? You promised to put the family back together, and you couldn't keep it.

Gasping for breath through my silent tears, I feel the sob trying to push itself out of me just needing to be heard. Hearing footsteps at the bottom of the stairs I lift my head to see everyone surrounding the bottom of the steps. Slowly standing up straight I take a step forward, before I fall back to my knees. I hear the soft padded thumping of someone running up the stairs. I feel thin arms surround me and barely lifting my face I can see Jemma through my water-filled gaze.

"Shhhh, honey it's going to be okay. It'll be okay," she tries to soothe me.

Shaking my head from side to side, I point at myself with a weak finger and in a shaky voice you can barely hear I say, "It's my fault Jemma. I promised, and I couldn't keep it."

Jemma's face screws up into the strange combination of disbelief, outrage, love, and pain.

"Lill-"

"No, Jemma! How can I fix this? I don't know how to fix this!" my voice now barely a whisper I say "I can't- I don't- I don't know what to do anymore, Jemma. I don't know."

I feel something wet hit my shoulder and when she lifts my face up so I'm looking at her again I can see she's crying herself. With a look of utter belief in her eyes she says,

"You are one of the strongest people I know, Lilly. You didn't fail. You're family is still together, don't you ever forget that! You'll be fine, you just need time to grieve. You'll think of something, okay?"

Anchoring myself to her I slowly nod my head. She stares into my eyes for an extra minute making sure her message got across, before she nods her own head and hugs me tighter. Feeling someone pull on my arm, I slowly stand up and turn to see Carrie. She smiles with tears in her own eyes, quickly giving us a quick hug, smashing me in between her and Jemma. When she pulls away she whispers, "Now lets go get some dang food."

Nodding our heads in agreement the three of us head down the stairs, and I can't help but think how lucky I am to have these girls in my life.

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