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He'd been there when she'd had her first boyfriend. He'd been her shoulder to lean on when he'd left her. He'd threatened to beat him up, he'd put a smile on her face, and promised that he would never be like that towards her. He was worse, because he left, he'd always left, walked away from her despite the fact that it hurt her more than it hurt him. He was more of a monster than those boys, because he knew how easily she hurt, he knew this, and he'd walked farther and farther away from her that evening. 

There were pieces, pieces of her that never changed, that never left her, there was more to recognizing a person than their looks, because she'd changed, but the details of her didn't. She still cried, just as easily as back then, and she still tried to hide it from him. 

Holden didn't know where to go, he didn't know what to do, because he wanted to go back, to wrap his arms around her, to not hear her soft sniffles as he turned the corner. He pulled out his phone, he was crossing more lines than he was supposed to, but he'd dug his grave, and he could only dig deeper. He'd made a mistake, trying to get close to her and cradling the assumption that she wouldn't want to know what had happened all those years ago.

She picked up on the third ring. "Rachel, we need to talk." Holden hoped he didn't sound as nerve wrecked as he had with Jackie. It had been ten years, ten years carrying a hurt, a hurt that sent him to prison, carrying a hurt that was a wedge between whatever friendship he would have with Jackie. 

"She was never meant to see you, Holden." Rachel spat. He'd caught her at a bad time. She couldn't still be holding a grudge could she? Would he blame her if she were? "She was there with me yesterday because I forgot, I forgot you worked there, I forgot about everything because it's been years, Holden, but it's not enough, you're the reason she's the way she is. She might not hate you, but I do, because every-time I see her, I remember that she could have been different. You took that away from her. She could have been herself. This is all on you, there's nothing to talk about," He hated the emptiness in Rachel's voice, it took him back, it took him to a time behind the bars of an adult penitentiary, a place where hopelessness circled the air like the stench of old dried piss. 

"I was fifteen, Rachel, be realistic, what could I have done? I went to prison, haven't I been through enough?" But he didn't think she would budge, Rachel was always stubborn like that. 

"You went to prison, Scotty, because you wanted sympathy, you wanted someone to look at you like you weren't there, like you couldn't have screamed, like you didn't take her there..." She hadn't continued. Holden knew she shared the perspective of Luther Grey. Because he'd invited her out that day, because he'd watched, because he'd been a scared little boy and not the hero, not her hero. 

"There's nothing to talk about, Holden, there never was."  Rachel repeated cutting the call. Holden released a breath. Turning, Holden crossed the distance of the beach, night growing closer with each step, with each flustered memory of that night. In a way, it was special to Holden, because he'd spent two years confined to a cell thinking of all the ways that night could have been different, he'd spent two years ridding his mind of her screams, her hurt. He could have done something, he could have stopped them. The breeze whipped across his skin, his steps slowed by the damp sand. Gazing the distance, it was clear he'd scared her off, she was gone, wouldn't it be better if she stayed away? 

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