"I'm glad I was." She says.

"Why? You don't even know me, what's it matter to you?" He doesn't seem angry, just worried, scared, broken.

She places her hand on his knee.

"Let me get to know you."

Cade bites his lip.

"I just can't take being alone anymore."

Brooke stays quiet.

"No parents, no family, no friends. This world wouldn't even notice if I was gone."

There is another tense silence.

"I was in the army, you know. I did three tours in Iraq. Then one day, my crew and I-" he stops and sucks in a deep, painful breath.

"I lived." Is all he says.

"I would have given anything to---"

Brooke grabs him, pulling him into her body. She presses his head down into her neck, squeezing tighly. He is tense for a moment then goes totally limp. He shudders then starts crying quietly into her shoulder.

She couldn't hear him say those words. Or she would have broken down too. She doesn't know what she is supposed to be doing. There is no protocol for this. One thing she does know is she has to be strong.

To her surpise, Cade doesn't even try to break free from her embrace, just nuzzles himself in her arms. His body is hard, muscles so defined she can feel them through thier clothes. He could probably snap her in two if he wanted to. Yet at the same time, he looks so weak, like one wrong move would shatter him into a million peices. It's heartbreaking.

So she holds him like that for a long, long time.

Once he finally pulls away, he wipes his face.

"I'm sorry." He says.

"Sorry, haven't gotten a hug in..."

"No-" she interrupts.
"You don't have to be sorry."

She runs her hand up and down his back. His eyes fall closed and he bows his chin to his chest. It's like he has never even been touched before.

"Come here." She says, moving up to the couch, and gesturing with her hand. He follows cautiously. She positions him, so his head is on her lap. She strokes his dark chocolate hair back with one hand and rubs his back with the other. He is shaking slightly.

"Just relax. Talk to me."

He seems to think for a second. She looks around, noticing a mark on the east wall. Where the bullet had probably ricocheted and planted itself somewhere on the other side.

"I was a foster child." He says

"I don't know who my parents were. They were young, I suppose. They weren't ready. I was bounced all across Idaho. Never got adopted. Was never in the same place long enough to make friends. I joined the military out of high school so I wouldn't be out on the streets.

That was the first time in my life I felt like I belonged, you know?" Then he falls quiet. Like he wants to say something, but can't.

"I have been back for six months. Not a single phone call, visit, anything."

Brooke suddenly feels guilty. She has been living within feet of this guy for half a year and never really did make any moves. She can't be too angry at herself though. On the outside, he looks like he has everything. A nice house, nice truck, nice body. There was no reason for her to think he was so...broken.

She doesn't ponder on it.

Cade doesn't seem to have much more to say so she just continues rubbing his back until his body is completely pliant and his breathing evens out. His eyes are shut but he keeps jerking himself awake.

"I have to go to the bathroom." He says hastily, standing up.

Brooke stands up too. She thought she was getting somewhere.

"Umm, I came in here an hour ago and you were--you know--and I really don't--" she stutters.

"I'm not going to do anything. Okay?"

"I don't know that." She says sternly.

She has seen enough movies to know how this goes. He locks himself in the bathroom and uses a razor to cut himself or a towel to choke himself or something.

Suddenly she hears the sound of what sound like raindrops on the floor. She doesn't know how long Cade has been clutching his crotch, but it's all too apparent by the growing dark stain on his grey sweatpants whats happening.

Cade bites his lip, like he is about to burst into tears.

"I'm sorry." She chokes.

"I just didn't want you to go in there and hurt yourself."

Cade bows his head.

"This happens a lot." He sighs.

"It does?" She creeps closer.

He nods.

"Since I got back from Iraq. It's disgusting, I know."

Brooke stands back, a revalation coming over her.

"You have PTSD, don't you?"

She realizes quickly she probably shouldn't have said that outloud. Cade looks immidetly off-put.

He exhales and nods.

"That's what they say?" He shrugs.

She can't find anymore words.

"Can I go get cleaned up?" He asks.

She nods. Not even the least bit surpised he has to ask to do something in his own house. He disappears into the bedroom for a couple minutes. She stares at the gun on the counter. It's fullt loaded aside from the one empty parsel.

When he reappears he has on another pair of similar sweat pants, this time in navy blue.

"You don't have to stay with me." He says.

"You probably think I'm psycho."

Brooke shakes her head, still trying to gather her thoughts.

"We all go through things, Cade. Nobody should have to go through them alone.

He looks at her, as if trying to read her face. She is looking at him dead in the eyes.

"What are you saying?"

She steps closer to him.

"You're not alone anymore."

He stands stiff as a board.

"This doesn't weird you out?" He asks.


"All of this. You walk into a stranger's house, who just tried to shoot himself then witness him piss himself and you still wanna hang around?"

"We're all human, Cade." She strokes his cheek.

"Nobody should have to go through what you've been through. I'm not blaming you for any of it."

Silent tears stream down his face.

"You can't tell me that." He mumbles.

"I mean it. I'm not going to let you live like this anymore. I will be here for you." Any last shred of a guard Cade had up comes tumbling down in that moment.

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