*Several Months Later*
"Brittany! You haven't forgotten about this box downstairs, have you?" The black-haired woman's mother called from down the stairs. Rolling her eyes, she finished placing all the clothes into the last box, closing the lid and grabbing the tape gun, ripping a piece over the top so it wouldn't open. She picked up the black marker, writing 'Clothes' across the side.
"No, Mom! I haven't! I'm just finishing up this last one." She called, standing up with the heavy box, turning towards the door. She passed through the hallway, peering around the edge of the box as she descended the stairs, being careful not to slip and fall. Brittany's mother, looking a lot fancier than the occasion really called for, fretted over a backpack that looked stuffed to the brim.
"I packed you some snacks and an extra pair of socks, in case your feet get cold. Oh, and there are two sodas on the sides, so you can have something to drink while you drive. And-"
"Mom!" Brittany interrupted, laughing at all her mother's worry. "It's alright. Thanks for packing it. I'll look through it when I get to the hotel."
"Oh, I'm sorry." The weary, raven-haired woman sighed, pulling in her daughter for a hug. "It's just I'm losing my baby girl. I thought I'd have more time with you before your father and I were left in an empty house."
Brittany groaned, stepping away once her mother let go. The both of them picked up the last boxes and headed out the door, where her car was parked, the hatchback open already half-filled with the rest of her stuff.
"Yeah, I know. It's just something I feel like I have to do." She finished quietly, pushing the box of her clothes on top of one filled with toiletries. She shifted a few blankets placed on top of everything to make room for the box her mother carried, packing it in with a final shove.
"Well, after everything that's happened, your father and I don't blame you." She stroked Brittany's cheek with a gentle smile, guiding her back into the house.
She was, of course, referring to the police report of Lexi's disappearance and the discovery of a mutilated body in the woods.
The local news had been in a frenzy, pinning the horrific crime onto the newly-dubbed 'Rain Man,' the rampant murderer who killed his victims during severe storms. While they identified the victim as Logan Pryer, his only surviving relative his drug-abusing mother, they withheld most of the information in the best interest of discretion.
Brittany had worried for weeks after the body's discovery that police would find her fingerprints on the ropes that were tied around his legs, but it seemed that the storm had washed away any viable evidence, and she wasn't in any criminal database to begin with. No detectives or investigators knocked on her door demanding she go with them to the police station.
Well, they did visit her home, but for another reason entirely. Since she had been very close to Lexi, they asked her several questions about the brunette's apparent disappearance. Brittany, ever the excellent actor, feigned surprise and grief over the loss of her friend, though in actuality it was the sounds of Logan's screams that made her so distraught.
After awhile, the town seemed to give up trying to look for the missing college student, though there were rumors among the students that she'd committed suicide because of the sexual assault at the frat party. More than one person had approached Brittany asking for information they weren't entitled to, and she only emphasized that she didn't know what had happened exactly.
At least she knew that wherever her friend was now, she was happy. At least, Lexi had been when they'd left, but it was easier to believe that she was smiling and laughing in a world where she found enjoyment in living life.
Keeping her promise, Brittany had arranged Nana's funeral with some help from her mother. It was a small service, no more than a dozen people in attendance, but Brittany thought it was fitting for the old woman. It was held at the local cemetery, with three large wreaths set behind her casket in dedication to her three years of service in the armed forces.
She'd spoken words on Lexi's behalf, not having to fake the tears that fell as she recited her friend's love for her grandmother. It was a beautiful service, and Brittany felt that she'd completed her task well.
Still, even months later, the emptiness of not having the crazy old lady and the shy brunette who loved to run was hard to bear. Which was why she was moving away, getting out of town for the first time in her life.
Brittany followed her mom back into the house, allowing the older woman to fret over tiny things that may be forgotten and packing a few extra things into the backpack on the table. Brittany didn't pay attention to most of what her mother advised, nodding distractedly so as not to upset her.
"I'm going to go upstairs and make sure I didn't forget anything." She said, and her mother nodded.
"Alright, dear. I'll be outside waiting for you to take off!"
Heading back upstairs, Brittany felt the weight of her decision begin to settle on her shoulders the nearer she got to her bedroom door. The same door she'd drawn on in crayon as a toddler. The same one she'd shut angrily when she'd been grounded for a month in 6th grade. She smiled, stepping through the doorway and peering into the room.
Her bed was the same as always, with her purple comforter spread across it, but the pale yellow walls were bare, her band posters stuffed into one of the boxes in her car. Her dresser, usually so full of perfumes and nail polish, was completely cleared of stuff.
Trailing her hand over the foot of the bed, she looked around, soaking in the room's scent of linen and her perfume. She'd miss this room, and all it's cramped glory.
This was it. The last time she'd step foot in this room. She smiled, the bittersweet feeling growing as the memories came back of her childhood. But, she shook her head, having decided just recently that she would try not to dwell on the past so much. It would only bring pain.
With a sigh, she turned and tromped down the stairs again, heading outside to see her mother shoving the backpack into the passenger seat of her car, closing the door when she spotted her daughter coming close.
"Oh, your father's sorry that he wasn't able to be here to see you off, but just know that he loves you and supports your decision." She cooed, pulling her in for another hug. Brittany rolled her eyes but let herself be squeezed and rocked back and forth like a stuffed animal.
"Thanks, Mom." She said, pulling back and reaching for her car keys in her purse.
"Call us when you get to the hotel, alright? And when you pass into Tennessee."
"I will, don't worry." And with that, she walked towards the driver's seat, opening the door and slamming it shut behind her. Tugging on her seatbelt, Brittany shoved her key in the ignition, starting the engine. It purred to life.
Brittany took one more glance at her childhood home, giving her mother a little wave before backing out of the driveway, then straightened and disappeared behind the trees down the street.
She tried not to look at the forest as it passed her by. Half of her irrationally thought that she'd see Logan, or even Lexi, peeking out from behind one of the trunks. Shaking her head, Brittany pressed the volume button, turning the radio on.
The last few seconds of a song played, and the DJ of the station came back on before the next song played.
"I know I could lie but I'm telling the truth, wherever I go there's a shadow of you." The radio played, and Brittany glanced at the dash. She'd never heard this song before. It must be new.
"I know I could try looking for something new, but wherever I go I'll be looking for you."
She smiled, feeling a strange sense of calm wash over her soul. Even though everything had turned to shit not too long ago, she'd still managed to keep standing, heading off to make a new life in a new place. Texas, specifically. Some place she'd never thought too much about, making it the perfect place to start her life over. New friends, a new college, a little apartment all her own...and maybe a puppy, she thought with a smile.
As the last notes of the song played, she crossed the county lines, never looking back at what was once her home.
"Wait, so it's the left lung that has two lobes, and the right that has three?" Lexi asked, tapping the medical book in her lap with her pencil. Law glanced back at the brunette, sitting cross-legged on his bed with her elbows on either knee, staring down at the textbook in consternation. He smirked, looking closely at her legs. While the wounds had healed without incident, despite a minor infection on her left calf, many of the slashes had left scarred lines all over her pale skin.
"Yes, that's why the left one is smaller."
"Hmm…" She hummed, turning to write something down in her notebook that sat beside her. "Then, the little notch in the side is to accommodate the heart, right?"
"Correct." He turned from his desk, standing and approaching her. While he still had some paperwork to take care of, his back was beginning to ache from sitting hunched over for so long, and he'd rather see how Lexi was doing anyways. She'd been studying diligently with his old medical books, determined to become a medical professional as she'd initially sought out to do. Never one to turn down another medic onboard his submarine, Law was eager to teach her everything he knew. Besides, it would be quite amusing having her around all the time in his infirmary.
Grinning mischievously, Law walked to the edge of the bed and bent down, placing his two hands on either side of her crossed legs. She looked up, eyes widening when his face was only a few inches from her.
"You've been staring at that book for hours. Perhaps you should take a break?" He suggested, watching as her eyes took on that glint that indicated she was up to something.
"Well, maybe you're right." She nodded, ignoring his proximity to her and stuffing her notebook into the page she was on, closing the cover. She placed the book to the side and looked back up to him. "Now, what ever do you suggest I occupy my time with now?"
"Oh, I think I could come up with a few ideas." He chuckled, slowly closing the distance between their lips. Lexi laughed, her hands moving to the front of his hoodie, tugging on the material to pull him closer.
Now that she wasn't afraid of him leaving her alone anytime soon, Lexi sure was a lot more forthcoming about her attraction to him, and he wasn't complaining.
Smiling into the kiss, Law pushed her back on the bed, his body moving to hover over hers. She gasped, then giggled, when he reached one hand to squeeze her ass. Lexi tried scooting backwards further on the bed but Law pulled her by the waist to his chest, grinding his hips into her. She moaned, hands moving to his arms as if to support her.
She looked up into the gray eyes of her Captain. Never would she think he would be the one to bring her happiness to such degree. He'd given her a new life, a new world to explore, with new friends to cherish. That dark gleam in his eyes, as he pushed her deeper into the bed, she ingrained it into her memory, feeling for the first time in her life, a sense of true belonging.
Right here. Right now. That was where she really belonged.ns 126.96.36.199da2