This takes place around the time of Should've Said No.
TW: Sexual violence, abuse, murder
Vince’s place felt like Hell.
Bianca didn’t believe in any sort of afterlife; if there were a God, she didn’t think she would be in this situation. But Vince’s house was exactly like every description of Hell she’d ever heard. Hot, suffocating, miserable, full of tortue and despair. And the Devil himself was sleeping right next to her.
She looked down at Vince, feeling nothing but contempt, anger, and disgust. He was out like a light, his chest rising and falling as he slept peacefully. He even had the same smug smirk on his face as he did while awake. She didn’t even want to know what he dreamt about.
Bianca didn’t understand how he could sleep at night doing the things that he did. She was never able to sleep when she was at his house, or even on the rare nights that she was able to stay at her aunt’s. Nighttime was when the memories came back in full force. During the day, there were distractions, like school and other people and TV and outside noise. But at night, she was alone in the quiet with her own mind.
It was the worst at Vince’s house, where all she could do was stare up at the ceiling and wait for morning. Images of the last few weeks always flashed through her mind, so vivid as if they had just occurred. Anson slamming her against the wall, tearing at her clothes, his big hand on her mouth as she yelled for help, rendering her voice useless. Herself desperately screaming for him to stop as he beat Drew to a bloody pulp right in front of her. The feel of the brick in her hand, and the sound of the collision as she brought it down hard on his head.
She had killed him. She hadn’t meant to, but she had, and it was haunting her every second of every day. It even made her physically sick. She had a headache pretty much all of the time now, her appetite came and went, and the other day she had to excuse herself from class before she threw up all over her table. Once she finished vomiting, she sat in the bathroom stall and just sobbed for 20 minutes straight. No matter how hard she tried, she could not escape that night. Meanwhile Vince went around hurting people intentionally and was able to keep walking around (and sleeping) with a big, evil grin on his face.
She hated him. She hated him so fucking much. But if she wanted Drew to be safe, she was going to have to put up with him.
Bianca sat up, her body drenched in sweat. Vince’s place didn’t have air conditioning--fitting, since it may as well be an inferno--and the heat made her feel even more trapped. Lying here, her mind racing with painful memories and her body burning up, was just unbearable. She needed to get up.
Very slowly, she climbed out of bed and adjusted her tank top, as it had begun to sag. Then she tiptoed toward the refrigerator, desperately in need of water. Her throat was so dry that it was starting to hurt. She opened the refrigerator door--only slightly so as to avoid spreading light throughout the room--and then grabbed a water bottle. She immediately started chugging the cold liquid down. It felt amazing; way better than any water she had ever tasted before. The bottle was empty in twenty seconds flat.
But she knew water wasn’t going to be enough. She needed to get away from this heat, to get away from this house, if only for a little while. She looked at the window longingly, even though she couldn’t see the outdoors at the moment since the curtains were closed. It had to be a lot cooler out there than it was in here; plus, some fresh air and a good walk might help to clear her head.
She made her way over to the front door, even more carefully this time. She wasn’t supposed to go anywhere without Vince’s permission, but she figured if she was quiet enough, she could go out and come back without him ever knowing. She turned the knob and was about to push open the door when shuffling came from the bed behind her.
“Going somewhere, B?” Vince asked, his voice groggy from sleep but somehow still just as intimidating.
Bianca yanked her hand back, feeling the fear creeping up inside of her. Trying to keep her voice level, she said, “I just wanted to go for a walk.”
Vince shook his head, giving her a condescending smile like she was a stupid little girl. “Thought you would know better by now. You don’t get to just up and walk out whenever you want.”
“I just want to go for a walk,” Bianca repeated shakily. “I’ll only be gone for a few minutes.”
“And how do I know that’s really what you’re doing?” Vince sat up in bed. “You could be trying to run away, or meeting someone else.”
“You have my phone,” Bianca pointed out. “Don’t you think you would know if I was meeting up with someone?”
Vince got out of bed, which was the one thing she was really hoping he wouldn’t do. He made his way over to her slowly, and she braced herself for whatever he was about to do. But instead of putting his hands on her like he usually did, he just leaned in close, and she froze as her whole body tensed up.
“I thought we had a good understanding going here,” he said right into her ear. She could feel his words beating against her face. “You do what I say, and no one gets hurt.”
Bianca just nodded, hoping he would back off. Thankfully, he did, and then he gestured for her to get back in bed. She reluctantly climbed back under the covers, and he came in on the other side. He wrapped his arm around her and placed her hand on his bare chest, pulling her close as he prepared to go back to sleep.
She wanted to scream. Having Vince’s hands on her in any capacity brought back a whole other wave of memories. The ones where he touched her and caressed her in ways and places that she didn’t want, but she knew she had no choice but to let him do it.
She hated how rough he was with her. Even right now, when they weren’t doing anything, his grip on her was way too tight for her liking. Anson used to be the exact same way. In fact, the only guy who had ever touched her gently and tenderly was Drew.
She and Drew had never gone all the way, but they’d had some pretty intense makeout sessions, and every time, she was amazed at how careful he was. He would do things like softly cup her cheek in his palm, run his hand lightly along her arm, and call her beautiful instead of “fucking sexy.” He did everything he could to make sure she was comfortable.
Afterwards, they would sit on his basement couch cuddling, and she would feel happier than she’d ever felt in her life. She never felt safer or more loved than when Drew was holding her in his arms. For the first time ever, she had a guy who truly cared about her and not just getting in her pants. On top of that, she finally had someone in her life who didn’t look at her like she was a disappointment. She had someone who looked at her like she mattered.
But now, her horrible fucking life had taken that away from her, too. The one good thing she’d ever had, and it was gone in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t fair.
Bianca stared up at the ceiling, wishing daytime would hurry up and get here. The outdoors were only a few feet away, but she couldn’t feel any farther from the world.
If someone had told Bianca a year ago that she would one day enjoy coming to school, she would have laughed in their face and opened another bottle of whiskey.
But these days, school was much more than just school. It was an escape, a chance to get away from Vince and the gang and just be a normal teenager for a few hours. Well, as normal as a teenager could be with images of themselves committing murder running through their mind.
As she walked toward her first class, Bianca caught sight of something that immediately made her body tense up. A small crowd had formed in front of a nearby bank of lockers. It consisted of K.C., Dave, Sadie, Marisol...and standing right smack in the middle of them...was Drew. He was back at school.
Bianca immediately turned around and started walking the other direction. She would just have to take the long way to history. But it was too late; Drew had already seen her.
“Bianca!” he called, somewhat urgently. She heard his footsteps running up behind her, and she knew she had no choice but to stop. She turned around to face him, trying to appear nonchalant, but her heart broke into a million pieces again as soon as she saw him up close.
He looked awful. He had a faded black eye, a gash in his lip, and scratches all over his face. She didn’t even want to imagine what he must’ve looked like right after the attack happened. His injuries were apparently severe enough for him to miss two weeks of school.
Bianca swallowed a huge lump of guilt. This was all her fault. She hadn’t meant to, but she’d gotten Drew mixed up in all of her shit. She should’ve just stayed away from him. As amazing as being with him made her feel, she would easily take back the day she first approached him if it meant none of this ever happening. She hated herself for what had happened to him.
For a long moment, the two of them just stared at each other, neither quite sure of what to say. They hadn’t spoken since Drew broke up with her a couple weeks ago, right before the attack happened. As soon as she found out about it, Bianca had wanted to go to the hospital to see him, but Vince wouldn’t let her. He then confiscated her phone so she wouldn’t be able to contact Drew, or anyone else for that matter. So much had happened since the last time Drew and Bianca spoke that it almost felt like it had been years; their happy relationship nothing but a distant memory.
Then Drew did something that surprised her. He reached for her arm, and sparks singed through her body the way they always did when he touched her. His grip was smooth and gentle as always. She looked down at his hand on her wrist, grateful that her jacket sleeves covered up the bruises from Vince.
“Did you…” he started to say, and then hesitated. He swallowed hard, and she could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t want to say what he was thinking. He eventually just substituted an expectant nod for the words and then finished, “...with Vince?”
Bianca froze. He knew. He fucking knew. How did he know?
“Who told you that?” she asked, trying to appear neutral.
“One of his lackeys,” Drew replied. “Right before...well, you know.”
Bianca didn’t say anything at first, as she was too busy trying to keep the memories from flooding through her mind. It didn’t work. She was already picturing herself walking up to Vince a few weeks back, asking him what she could do to get him to leave Drew alone, trying to convince him to come up with anything else when he gave her his answer…
“Bianca.” Drew’s increasingly scared voice interrupted her thoughts right before she got to the worst part. “If he hurt you, you have to tell me. Did he?”
She looked up into his eyes; his blazing, blue-green eyes filled with concern for her, and for a split second, she considered it. She almost let herself break down and tell him all about Vince assaulting her, in every sense of the word.
But then she remembered Vince telling her he would put a bullet in Drew’s brain if she told him or anyone else about their arrangement, and so she stopped. She couldn’t risk him getting hurt again because of her.
Putting on a brave face, she just said. “He must’ve just said that to freak you out. You know, to catch you off guard before they struck."
“Are you sure?” Drew asked, not seeming entirely convinced.
“Yes. I’m positive. I haven’t seen Vince in weeks, I swear.” These lies physically hurt her to tell. Her throat was tight, her heart was hurting, and her limbs were aching as she thought about being locked in Vince’s grasp last night and being forced to kiss him goodbye that morning. But she mustered up all of her strength to keep her voice steady and her face untelling. She wanted to appear as though she had just come to school from her aunt’s place, as was the case on a normal day.
And Drew believed her. He was so, so naive, but that was exactly what she needed him to be right now. The more out of the loop he was, the safer he was.
“Okay.” He looked her over one more time and nodded. She offered him a small smile, just to reassure him that she was fine.
They stood there in silence again for another few seconds, until a slamming sound from nearby caused both of them to jump. They looked over to see that it was just two Grade 9 boys messing around and shoving each other into lockers. Drew and Bianca sighed in both relief and embarrassment.
Then Drew cleared his throat awkwardly. “So, uh, I got some bad news,” he said.
She raised her eyebrows.
“My mom doesn’t want me talking to you anymore,” he said. “Part of my fresh start, or whatever.” He eyed her regretfully.
It hurt. She had seen it coming, but it hurt. This time, a whole different set of memories ran through her mind. Her and Drew getting to know each other in the band room, him holding her hand to calm her nerves before they went to hang out with his friends for the first time, them making out on his basement couch only for his mom or brother to walk in nine out of ten times, the cuddle sessions, Drew pulling Anson away from her in the alley, Drew taking the blame for his death so Bianca wouldn’t have to go to juvie…
All of those memories, even the happy ones, were now painful as hell.
“That’s okay,” she said, barely able to keep her voice from breaking. She needed to get away from him fast or else she was going to burst into tears. “It’ll be good for the both of us; moving on.”
Drew nodded again without saying anything else. He stared at her for another long moment, before he started backing away. “Well, uh, I’ll see you around,” he said.
“Okay.” And that was that. Drew turned around to meet up with Dave and K.C., and Bianca resumed walking to her class.
'It somehow felt like a huge weight had been both lifted and dropped onto her shoulders. As much as it hurt, she had to admit that Drew’s mom forbidding him from seeing her was for the best. She had already messed up his life enough, and knowing that a stint in the hospital wasn’t even the beginning of what Vince was capable of...it was best for them to stay apart. She also wouldn’t have to work as hard to avoid him at school this way, and she wouldn’t have to come up with some bullshit excuse as to why she was avoiding him if he or anyone else happened to ask. Plus, maybe keeping her distance from him would make it easier for her to accept that they couldn’t be together.
With her head held high, Bianca walked into her history class and did her best to leave that side of her life at the door. She greeted Mr. Perino, took her seat, and pulled out her notebook just as she did every other day.
And just like every other day, no one even suspected a thing.