“I know that it’s not much, but I wanted to apologize again.”
“I treated you like an asshole. I know.”
“Yeah, you did. You made it perfectly clear at X-Mas that you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“I was giving you a way out.”
“A way out? Fuck you. You weren’t giving me a way out. You were giving yourself a way out. You wanted to put this on me instead of you—fuck you. You were doing what you always do—run.”
“…Well I’m not running now.”
“Yeah, we’ll see about that.”
Alexa stood outside the building, staring at nothing in particular as snow whirled around her. It caught on her clothing, speckling her dark coat with white flakes and blending with her pale hair. She scanned the small, huddled buildings across from her and then glanced down a snowy slope to where men and women played some sort of game. Their laughter and shouts filtered toward her—she looked, but she didn’t see.
Everyone makes a big deal about fire—but it’s ice they should worry about. Ice can burn if it’s cold enough. And ice can lock away secrets in a vault harder than steel when the temperatures drop.
She felt sick to her stomach, her gut twisting as she swallowed hard. It was her fault, she knew. She pushed people away. She always had—maybe always would. But when I finally realized I didn’t want that…well, it’s a pity it’s too late. Her fingers clenched as more laughter sounded up from down the hill. His words echoed in her mind, a reverberation that sounded over and over and over again like some sort of sick mantra: You died for Barnes. You fucking throw your life away, and all I ever wanted was not for you to die for me—but to live with me.
Alexa turned to look away from the people playing in the snow, her breath shaky as she slowly felt her fingers and toes become numb. In a few moments, her arms and legs would follow, and then it would turn from numbness to pain. She closed her eyes briefly, fighting back the urge to scream. Stew left. Mickey doesn’t want anything to do with you. You’re used like a tool by everyone else. And you were stupid enough to not wake up to it until now. You allowed it to happen.
You’re an idiot, Alexa. A fucking idiot.
She opened her eyes again, watching her breath puff in front of her face—white in a white world. She wasn’t sure why she’d even come here to the Grove—to the small town north of Hayven. Perhaps she was seeking some kind of solace before going into the Grave. Perhaps she was trying to find answers. Who knew.
Her eyes blurred slightly and she glanced downward, blinking rapidly. He was the one that always had my back. He was the one that helped—and I was too ignorant to see. Quickly, she passed the back of her hand in front of her eyes. She took a steadying breath before breathing out two words to herself, “Fuck him.”
She didn’t need Mickey. She didn’t need Stew. She didn’t need D.O.C. or Barnes. She didn’t need their approval.
She gritted her teeth slightly, her lips hardening into a thin line. She was done being a tool—done being a knife and a sword. She was done molding herself to others’ expectations. She was done with it all.
If they hate me, that’s fine. I’m done seeking fucking approval for what I do. I’m done being a fucking implement. I’m a fucking person—and I’m going to live on my fucking terms. I’ll take what’s mine. And lord help whoever or whatever stands in my way. It’s my turn.
The snow continued to swirl around her as she walked down the slope, her boots making small footprints behind her. She didn’t feel the cold now; she was used to it.
I never lied to you. And now? My only regret is that I didn’t wake up until you were long gone.