The ride home was hell, to say the least.
With a good number of cars gone from the sides of the street, it was relatively easy to make their way back to Brittany's own vehicle, though still rather slow because of a crying Lexi. Brittany whispered comforting words in her ear the whole walk over, supporting her best friend with a hand around her waist. She could feel the brunette's tears seeping into the top of her dress, Lexi's face hidden from view as she wept silently, but the black-haired woman couldn't have cared any less about having her dress ruined.
The three walked in silence, Law still angry that Brittany hadn't let him give Cooper a piece of his mind after what had transpired. Nothing less than a good beating and perhaps a few amputations would put him in a better mood. One glance at Lexi, however, made him calm down if only for awhile, for her sake, at least.
"Over here." Brittany said, the first words spoken in several minutes of empty silence, as she pointed over towards her car. Pulling a pair of keys from inside her bra, she clicked the button and the lights on the back lit up a few times. They approached and she helped ease Lexi into the back seat, Law getting in on the other side.
After helping Lexi get her seatbelt on, Brittany got into the driver's seat and started the car. The engine started up before settling into the familiar constant purr, but she didn't move to start driving. Arms on the wheel, they trembled slightly. Noticing this, Law raised a brow, staring at her frown of consternation through the rearview mirror.
"Brittany-ya?" He asked, probing her mind. She only blinked, looking down at her hands. Perhaps she hadn't heard him, so he nudged the back of her chair with his knee. "Oi." He said a little louder.
She looked up at him through the mirror, eyes wide. "Is this my fault?" She whispered.
"Why would you think that?" He asked, genuinely confused. She ran her hands under her eyes, attempting to rid them of the oncoming tears without smudging her makeup.
"She didn't want to come in the first place. None of this would have happened if I hadn't have pushed it."
"You couldn't have known." He reassured, not quite sure what he was supposed to say. Comforting upset women wasn't something he did on regular basis. "What's done is done. You can't change it now."
His rather blunt words of wisdom must have gotten through to her because Brittany, after a few moments of absorbing what he said, quickly straightened her back and let out the pent up breath she'd been holding. Composing herself back into the confident and no-nonsense Brittany he was used to seeing, she nodded silently before grabbing the gear shift and driving off into the night.
Law sat directly behind Brittany, Lexi seated on the opposite side, leaning heavily against the door without saying a word. Her inspected her with an expert medical eye, seeing no serious physical damage to her person. There was light bruising around her wrists where Cooper had pinned her to the wall, and a few red marks on her neck, but otherwise untouched. Though he suspected that her mental and emotional state would be unbalanced.
Her arms were crossed over her chest protectively, eyes shut tightly in an attempt to forget everything that had happened. Law knew otherwise, that no matter how much alcohol she consumed, she wouldn't forget what had happened. It would stick with her forever.
His anger flared up again at the marks, but there wasn't anything he could do about it right at that moment. He vowed, however, that he'd fix that problem as soon as possible.
Brittany, thankfully, hadn't had a large amount of alcohol during the party and was able to pass off driving sober all the way to Lexi's house. There were several cops out that night, but half of them were already pulled over to the side of the road, testing young adults with breathalyzers and straight lines. Law wondered why they were testing them like that, but figured it wasn't the time nor the place to ask such a question.
They got back without incident, and miraculously, Lexi had fallen asleep at some point on the way. Easing gently into the driveway, Brittany slowed to a stop and leaned back into her seat, shifting the gear into park. They sat there, not quite sure what they should do now that they'd gotten home. The black-haired woman glanced at the clock, cringing when it read almost 11:30. They hadn't stayed at the party very long, but it seemed a lifetime away already.
With a deep sigh, Brittany turned the key and the car shut off. Law unbuckled the seatbelt, something he was very unfamiliar with, and stepped out onto the gravel outside at the same time as Brittany. Deciding that her friend probably wouldn't be able to lift her, Law walked over to the other side of the car and gently opened the door, picking her up in her arms without waking the brunette. Not that much would wake her. The alcohol had knocked her out pretty thoroughly.
Unseen birds and insect chirped in the darkness, and it was still relatively warm outside, even with the sun having set for some time. The three approached the front door, and Brittany pulled out her keys again to unlock it. Inside, all the lights were out, indicating everyone was asleep. Trying to keep their steps as quiet as possible, they shut the door behind them and locked it.
"Bring her up to her room." Brittany said lowly, going first up the steps. The wood underneath the carpet quietly creaked as she put pressure on them. He followed, making sure not to hit Lexi's head against the wall as they went. When they passed by the guest room shared by Law and his men, the door opened a crack, and the heads of his two engineers peaked out into the hall.
"How was the party, Cap-" They started, but stopped when they noticed how serious Brittany's and Law's expressions were, along with an unconscious Lexi being carried by their captain.
"Go back to bed. I'll tell you tomorrow." He ordered, and they nodded silently, watching as they passed by towards Lexi's room. Sharing a concerned glance for their host's wellbeing, they quietly shut the door once more and returned to their air mattress.
Brittany opened her door and held it for Law as he stepped in, carrying Lexi over to the bed and gently setting her down on the comforter. Brittany was right behind him, tossing her purse and stuff into the corner before coming to her side.
"I'll take care of her tonight, you should get some rest." She offered. Seeing him frown, she responded in kind, glaring at Law. "I'm her friend, I'm not leaving her by herself."
He was about to respond that he was a doctor and that he may be of some use if he stayed, but she was already shoving him out the door and into the hallway outside.
"I've got it from here. See you in the morning." And with that, she shut and locked the door, a silent indicator that he wasn't welcome inside.
After a couple more seconds of staring at the white wood, he shook his head and wandered over to his crew's room, wondering how the morning would go. For now, he decided, he should probably go sleep off the rising headache.
It wasn't until close to noon the next day that Lexi woke up. Everyone else was already up and downstairs, save for Nana, who usually slept in this late anyways, and Brittany, who refused to leave Lexi's room until she knew her friend was alright. Law even tried knocking on the door once but the black-haired woman had hissed from behind the door to go away.
Law had told the engineers about what had happened, and they instantly got themselves riled up in preparation for finding the son-of-a-bitch who did this to their friend and making him pay. Law wholeheartedly agreed, but knew that they'd only cause more trouble by leaving of their own volition.
Bepo, somehow, stayed out of sight the whole morning, hiding in the guest rooms with a bowl of leftover from the night before so he wouldn't get hungry.
Brittany sat on the floor of Lexi's room, dressed in the tank top and shorts she'd stashed in her purse before the party, staring at her phone in her hands. She turned the screen this way and that, occasionally seeing her own reflection in the little device. Her makeup was smeared from not bothering to wipe it off before sleeping. Her hair was sloppily brushed up into a messy bun, just to get it out of her face. The usually-pristine looking black-haired woman glanced up at the bed when she heard a muffled groan from under the covers.
Dropping her phone on the floor, Brittany rose to her knees and edged her way over to the bed, watching her friend slowly emerge from the blankets. One green eye opened carefully, her hand rubbing the other.
"Brittany?" She asked groggily, and her friend smiled.
"Hey. How are you feeling?" She asked gently, opting to sit cross-legged on the floor, leaning back on the palms of her hands. Maybe appearing more laid-back and at ease than she really felt would help Lexi feel the same way. Maybe it would erase what happened. Maybe it could fix things. At least, that's what she hoped. However, after a few moments of bleared glances at her own room, her eyes took on a glassy look as the tears formed at the edges.
"What happened last night…wasn't a dream…was it?" The brunette asked hesitantly, staring at her friend. Her gaze willed her to tell her the truth, though Brittany surmised that she already knew what was the truth. Her smile slowly faded, and she glanced away from those green eyes.
"No…" She admitted, swallowing from not knowing what to do. "It wasn't a dream."
Lexi slowly sat up, swinging her legs over the bed, but she made no attempt to stand. She was dressed in a pair of old pajama pants and a t-shirt, Brittany having changed her out of the dress the night before so she wouldn't feel uncomfortable. They were rumpled and slightly too big, drowning her out. Her facial expression contorted into one of pain, then fear, and finally extreme sadness as the reality of what had happened sunk in.
"Brit…" She sobbed, the tears sliding down her cheeks. Brittany couldn't keep her own sorrow from showing through, and she held out her arms as Lexi slowly sank to the floor in front of her. Both women on their knees, they embraced each other tightly, their tears falling onto each others' shirts.
"I'm so sorry, Lex…" Brittany breathed out, Lexi's hair making her face itch, but she didn't bother moving it from her face. "It's all my fault…I should have been there, we shouldn't have gone to the stupid party…"
"It's not your fault." Lexi cried, trembling in the comforting arms of her best friend. Her vision was blurry, reduced to no more than a sky-blue watery blur from her walls. "You didn't know."
"It doesn't matter, everything happened because I made you go." Lexi backed out of her arms, forcing Brittany to look at her.
"Stop thinking like that. None of this was your fault. Ok?"
"Lexi…" The black-haired woman sniffed. "I-"
"Promise." She interrupted. "Promise me you won't blame yourself for this." She urged, seeing the internal struggle in her friend's eyes. After several seconds of silence, Brittany closed her eyes and nodded, pulling Lexi back into the tight hug from before.
"I promise." She whispered, wondering to herself how she could ever keep her word.
"I'll be alright, Brittany. You go home, I'm sure you're mom's worried about you." Lexi encouraged, her eyes long dried. After an hour or so of sharing their grief, the initial tears had been shed and both of them felt marginally better.
"I don't want to leave you alone." The black-haired beauty argued, her hand pausing mid-brush as she brushed out her long locks. She turned to face her brunette friend, frowning in concern. "What if you need someone there?"
Lexi gave a small smile, her way of trying to convince Brittany she was fine, even though she felt far from it. "I've got the boys here. I won't be alone."
"Yeah, but I mean what if you need the company of a girl?" She set the brush down, grabbing a hair tie and pinning up her hair so it sat on her head in a high ponytail. Straightening it out, she turned back to her friend. "I'm just trying to help, Lex."
"I know, Brittany." She reassured, handing her friend a pair of her shorts to borrow for the trip home. "Trust me, I'll have you on speed dial at all times. But really, I'll be ok."
She still didn't look too convinced, but another tiny smile from Lexi finally made her nod. "Fine. But if you so much as shed a tear with me not around, I'll come right back here and drag you away from this place and straight onto the next plane to Paris, no questions asked. Understand me?" Brittany threatened with a raised finger. Letting slip a little chuckle, Lexi nodded as well.
After a couple more minutes of getting ready, Brittany grabbed all her stuff and headed out the door. Lexi smiled timidly after her, quickly closing the door behind her friend's departure, locking it into place and sliding to the floor.
She curled up against the door, pulling her knees to her chest. Closing her eyes, she willed herself to sleep, or any sort of state where she wouldn't have to remember the events of the previous night.
All attention was turned to the top of the stairs, the sound of Lexi's door drawing the pirates' gazes. Law especially, was wondering what kind of state Lexi would be in upon emerging from her room the first time, but he was disappointed to see it was only Brittany.
She descended the steps, adjusting her purse on her shoulder. Rising from his seat on the couch, he met her at the bottom of the stairs, the obvious question evident as he raised a brow. Meeting his gaze, she looked away and sighed.
"I don't know how she is, so don't ask." He nodded, understanding that these things were delicate, especially when someone as smart and self-aware as Lexi was put into this situation. They could easily fake being alright, but then self-harm the next second. You just never knew.
He said nothing in response, though before she approached the front door, she pointed an accusing finger at him, demanding his attention.
"You take care of her. Promise me you'll make sure she's ok. And if I get word that something happened or she's not ok, I will kill all three of you." She swung her gaze around to include Shachi and Penguin as well, who looked on with wide eyes. "Understand me?"
The two engineers nodded emphatically, getting the message. Law on the other hand simply watched her as she lowered her finger and gave them one last pointed look. Turning, she opened the door and walked out onto the porch, closing it behind her. The last Law saw of her was as she started up her car and drove out of the driveway down the road.ns 184.108.40.206da2