Rating: R, for depiction of violence and generally angst subject matter.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, I am only
responsible for my sick and twisted imagination.
Summary: A horrific event changes everyone's lives but not in the ways some expect them to. What does this mean for everyone?
Spoilers: Canon up to Rock This Town. After there you hit my AU twist.
A/N: I've had this muse buzzing in my head for weeks. I finally caved and put finger to keyboard and this is the first chapter of what in my imagination is a massive Degassi fic in the works. I have at least the next five chapters planned out in my head. I hope someone out there gets enjoyment out of this. Oh and titles are all going to be 80s songs.
X-POSTED to my journal shorttracked and various other boards.
She wanted to leave. She needed to leave this joke of a birthday party but once she’d made it to her car something told her she needed to turn back. It was one of those nagging voices that wouldn’t leave her head. She didn’t want to have to see JT again. She didn’t want to have him explain further to her that Mia was the woman in his life now. She didn’t need to hear that she was in his past. She had to go back though.
Something was wrong.
She couldn’t place it.
She crossed the corner just in time to see the red-headed form and his lackeys moving away from the scene. Her heart clenched in her chest as her eyes fell across JT’s falling against his car.
The minutes turned into seconds. She raced to him and she held him and screamed. She screamed until she didn’t have a voice anymore for help. He was trying to tell her something in those last fleeting moments of consciousness but she ordered him to silence.
Somewhere in the blur someone called 911. An ambulance took him to Toronto General Hospital. The Police wanted her to talk. She was numb. She was speechless.
“Ms. Van Zandt, you said you saw the red-head with the knife?” the chief asked. They’d given her a ride to the hospital in hopes that once she got there she’d be able to talk. She was completely distracted. She kept glancing over to where their small group of friends were waiting for any news. No news had to be good news though.
“I don’t know what I saw. It was dark. The red-head and his friends left the scene though,” she said her voice never giving away the distress she was feeling. Liberty was a picture of calm and serene in this moment, even if she was distracted. The others were crying but she wasn’t. She wasn’t going to cry.
The detective nodded seeming to understand that now was neither the time nor place for questioning. “Their student body president has identified them. They’re downtown and we’re currently questioning them. We will contact you for further information if need be,” he told her closing his notebook and giving her his card.
She nodded and turned moving toward her friends.
The blood stains on her dress were enough to send Manny and Emma back into hysterics. Toby looked like he might cry as well. He clutched Liberty nevertheless uncertain of how much to tell her of his last conversation with JT.
“Is there any change?” she asked.
“They haven’t said a word,” Toby responded quietly.
“Did you call his grandmother?” she asked.
Everyone else was busy being emotional. Liberty was running through checklists of things to do, people to contact. She knew better to contact his mother. His grandmother should be there though.
“-- She’s on her way.”
Three hours in they were all still waiting. They’d been directed into a waiting room and told that their friend was in emergency surgery. There wasn’t much else to be told. Mrs. Cooney had arrived. She took her seat next to Liberty and took to knitting her her nervousness.
Mia arrived shortly thereafter. She looked distressed. Her dark hair waving around her.
“Where is he? Is he alright?” she asked in typical Mia drama queen tone. Her eyes were red. She’d probably been crying for the whole ride over. She’d been out of town. Someone must have filled her in.
Toby looked a touch uncomfortable at her presence being added to the room. Liberty thought Mia had more of a right to be there than herself.
“He’s in surgery dear,” Mrs. Cooney spoke up. She was polite but her tone demonstrated little preference for Mia. “Liberty would really be the better one to ask for details. She was the one who saw it.”
Mia’s distress and concern turned to immediate anger. Toby could have been certain that he saw jealousy in her eyes. Finding JT stabbed was not some sort of prize.
“JT was with you when this happened?” she asked. Her tone didn’t rise but it was obvious that she wasn’t thrilled by the notion.
“I was leaving. I had a bad feeling. I came back. It was those Lakehurst goons. They stabbed him,” Liberty responded. She wasn’t going to argue with Mia. Not right now. Not in front of his grandmother. Not when JT had already chosen her.
Mia opened her mouth. The look on her face said that she wanted to blame Liberty for all of this but she knew she couldn’t blame Liberty. Lakehurst was her baggage. Not Liberty’s.
“Well thank you for getting him help. I don’t know whatI would do if I lost him.”
Toby looked even more guilty at that.
Five hours in a doctor came out. He looked tired. He was still in scrubs.
Everyone stood when he entered the waiting room, staring at him.
“Is there someone named Liberty in here?” he asked.
Emma had made Sean drag Liberty home for a change in clothes. She’d went kicking and screaming at that. The only way they’d gotten her to agree was by promising that he’d bring her right back. They hadn’t made it back though.
“That’s his ex-girlfriend,” Mia chimed in unasked before anyone else could respond to that. “If you’re looking for Mia, I’m right here.”
“Actually – I should probably speak to his family. You must be his grandmother. I was assuming that was your name. The Paramedics said they heard him say it when they were bringing him in,” the doctor said completely disregarding Mia and talking to Mrs. Cooney. “James just got out of surgery. The blade hit his thoracic aorta. There was a lot of blood loss but we were able to operate. I used a technique of spinal cord protection with hypothermia. He should be back to his old self in no time. There are possibilities of other issues arising but we we have done everything we can do to achieve the best result. He’s still in no condition for vistors but he’s stable and receiving antibotics on iv to prevent an staff infection. We have him in our ICU and he is being closely monitored by our staff. His body will need rest so start to heal itself. Medical science only goes so far.”
The sighs of relief in the room were audible. The possibility of other issues didn’t matter. Everyone was just glad he’d made it. JT was going to be okay. The hugs and tears of joy started between Manny and Emma. Toby just stood there trying to wrap his hand around how Mia could seriously be so petty at the moment as he watched her begin to sulk out of the corner of his eye. She seemed too distracted by the fact her name hadn’t come up. More upset that Liberty’s had.
“There is room for one person to come and watch over him…” the doctor continued. “I’ve found in my years of practice that family and friends can do a lot just by being there with a person.”
Mia jumped right in not even thinking that his grandmother might want to be in the room with him or any of the friends who had known him for far longer than she.
“I’ll do it,” she said jumping at the opportunity.
Toby had had enough with her though. He grabbed her by the wrist and started to pull her out of the waiting room. “Actually – why don’t you help me grab everyone something to drink,” he said.
“Are you okay, Liberty?” Sean asked from behind the steering wheel. There was a level of mutual respect for each other but they didn’t often make small talk. Sean wasn’t a small talk sort of guy.
“I’m not the one in the hospital,” she answered. It was one of those short uncommitting sort of answers that said there was more to it. Sean saw right through that. He’d known her for far too long to not.
“After the shooting, I was numb. I chose to not think about the warm blood on my hands. I was alive. Rick was dead because I was saving someone else. It didn’t hit until later and when it did, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling,” he admitted as he began to drive. He watched her in the mirror. “Rick was nothing to me. JT and you have a lot of history, Liberty. I can’t imagine if I were in your shoes and it was Emma. We’re here for you. We’re all here for you.”
It meant more coming from him than anyone else because he wasn’t the sort to go out of his way to say things.
Mia looked pissed off that she’d been pulled out of the waiting room. Toby hadn’t been rough with her pulling her out but she wasn’t happy that she was being treated like this. She was JT’s girlfriend. Not Liberty. Not Emma. Not Manny. She was his girlfriend and she felt that she had every right to be there with him. She had every right to know how he was doing.
She started to put in change for drinks at the drink machine not even talking to Toby.
It was Toby who spoke first. He wasn’t the sort of guy who liked to hurt any girl’s feelings but he was protective of his friends. JT was his best friend and because of that he had gained some sort of strange need to protect Liberty as well. Mia was a blip on his radar.
“—You don’t belong here,” he said simply.
“Who do you think you are?” Mia asked shaking her head.
“I’m his best friend. The best friend who he told he was going to break up with you to before he got stabbed. He was on his way to get back with Liberty when he got stabbed,” Toby told her.
Mia slapped him at that.
“JT hates her. He told me that that a million time. He can’t stand her. She’s in his past. She treats him like crap.”
“JT only said that stuff because he was upset. I’m not trying to be cruel Mia and I’m not trying to lie to you. He’s still in love with Liberty and everyone knows it. You’re making a fool out of yourself. ”
Liberty changed. She changed into sweats and an old shirt. She didn’t care how she looked. She just wanted to get back. When she arrived back the waiting room was noticably emptier. Mia and Toby weren’t in there anymore. She figured they were with JT by now though. He was probably laughing at the fact they all thought he could have been dead.
His grandmother gave her a look when she came back in gesturing for her to sit next to her.
“The doctor said he’s okay. He’s stable. Only one person is allowed to stay with him though and he’s not ready for regular visitors.. I was wondering if you would watch over my grandson for me? My health isn’t up for these long hours. I really should go get some rest now that he’s stable, ” she explained quietly.
Liberty was flattered. Honored even but who was she really? What made her the person who deserved to be in there.
“Wouldn’t Mia be a more suitable choice?” she asked.
The look on Mrs. Cooney’s face was unreadable but Liberty could have swore she saw something there, like she was hiding something. Liberty knew better than to ask about it though.
“You’re family. She isn’t. The choice is yours though.”
Liberty nodded and went to be let in. Mrs. Cooney had never referred to her as family. She technically was, she supposed with the whole illegitimate grandchild ordeal of last year.
When she entered the hospital room, it hit her. JT was really there. JT was lying there. Tubes were running in and out of his body. It was almost like her wasn’t there. It wasn’t like him to go long without smiling or laughing. He lightened up rooms when he entered them. In the bed, pale and tubed up, he was darker than she’d ever seen him look before.
She’d seen him at his worsts too. She’d never forget the day she’d been in the same hospital after he’d tried to kill himself. Even then, he’d had a way of brightening up the room though. He didn’t cry when she was there. He didn’t let on to the fact he was in pain.
He just fought for them. He fought for their child. It broke her heart looking back at it. Their lives had been turned upside down so much since their Junior year. Neither of them deserved it. He didn’t deserve this. No matter how optimistic everyone else was with what the doctors had to say, he was right here before her and her inner pessimest roared in her head. Her worse fears seemed to be happening.
She was silent as she stepped closer, taking a seat next to his bed. She reached over and took his hand. His hands were cold and clammy. They weren’t warm like they had always been before.
She wasn’t a religious person by any means. She did mass at holidays with her parents but when it came to regular prayer, it wasn’t something that she bothered with. Seeing him like this was enough to bring her too it though.
“I know you’re not supposed to ask for things for yourself. I’ve been a selfish person all year but if there was ever a time, I need you to listen to me. It would be now,” she said quietly.
The door was shut so it wasn’t like anyone else was going to hear her and think she was talking to herself. She closed her eyes. She concentrated on the words as if the mere thought of it could make things happen. She needed God to listen to her.
“I’m no longer asking for you to make him love me again. If Mia makes him happy, then he can be with Mia. He can do anything. All the times I’ve prayed asking for you to give me the instant gratification of having him back or having him do something my way instead of his own feels silly,” she continued. “I’ve been in love for .. well you know how long I’ve been in love with him.. and I can give up everything if you can bring him back to us.”
She was choking a bit now. Stuggling to get a hold of the words. She could put words together in eloqent diatribes for the Grapevine any day of the week but in those moment, the words just didn’t feel adequete.
“ I thought the worse thing that could happen to me would be a life without him but I think it may actually be a life without him in it. I’ll take anything. I’d rather be alive and know he hates me than to be alive knowing he isn’t. Matter of fact, if you want me to move away never speak to him again then I will. Just get him through this.”
She voice shook some more.
And her voice grew silent again.