New York City
Who is she without Jude?
Running is hard.
Callie knows that, but staying should have been harder; confronting what she's done and accepting the consequences would take real strength.
Running took more. Running took everything.
Day one, Callie stumbled. She'd almost asked Wyatt to turn the car around and take her back. She'd almost turned on the cell phone that Stef and Lena had given her—Callie knows that the Moms have a tracking app for all of their kid's phones. The stumble didn't stop her, Callie wishes it had. Instead she hurled herself forward into the dark, away from Wyatt, away from phones and reminders. Away from her blue duffel bag, clothes, cell phone, food and all—her backpack is all she's ever needed. How did she collect so much stuff? At every other home she and Jude kept their handful of belongings close and they stayed packed because it was quicker that way; easier.
Now, the backpack is lighter than it used to be. The money's gone. What little food she stole from the Fosters was fully digested and eliminated three days ago. This is the first time Callie allows her grip on the old strap to loosen. The worn fabric crumples on the bench next to her. She can't sit here for long. Not if she doesn't want them to find her. Callie's dark eyes travel in a listless arc over the subway tunnel ceiling in silent acquiescence of the understatement of the year. Stef Foster moves fast.
For a moment—just one, is all she intends, Callie Jacobs stops to breathe and stare at the slimy, black streaked wall out of reach beyond the tracks. She doesn't really see it. The tunnel smells dank and the air is thick, hard to breathe, but it's been hard to breathe for a while now. Callie doesn't notice the cloying warmth that lulls her exhausted body into a false sense of peace. She's too busy asking the hard questions…
When did running away become about what she wanted? Callie is running for Jude. She's trying to not be selfish.
Define selfish. It doesn't seem so cut and dry anymore. Just thinking that what she's doing is for Jude leaves a bad taste in Callie's mouth. Talk about a guilt trip. Her baby brother will be pissed at her, sure, and then he'll blame himself. Jude will forgive Callie, he always does—but he might never forgive himself. Callie promised.
Callie Jacobs is selfish. She's selfish for staining the 'morning after' glow that Stef and Lena deserved—the Moms are responsible for her. In one way or another, Callie left her problems at their front step when she closed that door behind her and they'll have no choice but to deal with them. That wasn't part of the plan. She didn't think about how this would affect them—legally and emotionally. Subconsciously, Callie understands that she’s using the Fosters, banking on the fact that they’ll take care of her brother and that they'll do whatever they have to with Bill and the State to make sure the 'package deal' that is she and Jude officially becomes two single units.
They'll have to split us up after all. Ironic how everything changes—so much of Callie's life in foster care was about keeping her and Jude together.
Callie's vision refocuses and targets the few weary stragglers shuffling toward the station atrium. She hates them. They're her enemies, every single one. All it will take is one wrong question, one wrong move and she'll be back in the hands of the Fosters; tied to her little brother again, weighing him down. She doesn't feel sorry for herself. Callie isn't bitter, she's just tired.
What will her leaving do to Brandon? It won't be pleasant. Her 'almost' brother probably blames himself as much as Jude. She's left him to deal with her shit on his own. Knowing Brandon, he'll tell his mother what he and Callie did. He has to—because Stef will want to understand and because Brandon will rely on his mom to help him understand. It's not fair. Callie should be there when he tells them. This is her fault, not his.
Mariana will hate her. Callie's given her ex-roomie every reason in the world to pick up the white towel and forgo the teetering bridge that they've built up. Jesus should hate her by proxy.
Running is hard.
Once you start, it's impossible to stop. Callie gets it now. She's not just running to keep from being found. She only has to do that until she's eighteen and then she won't be a ward of the state anymore. Callie is going to be running for the rest of her life because if she keeps running, maybe she'll be able to convince herself there's someone chasing.
Time to go again. She can't feel her fingers or the strap between them when she reaches for her backpack. Callie doesn't notice how cold her hands are, or that she isn't alone. She can't think anymore. It feels like she's floating and her ears are stuffed with cotton, but the runaway isn't too worried. Her body is still functioning, isn't it?
Callie's legs shake when she stands.
She's been this hungry before, but never this weak.
Blinking takes too much effort. She changed in the Fosters' home. For half a second Callie fears that she's lost her ability to survive, to deal. The pain is constant.
There are shadows coming her way. She sees them, can't make out facial features or coherent words, only mumbling. Did she just say something? Someone looms over her and there's a tug on her backpack—the strap slips halfway down her shoulder, the tunnel sways and the lights fuzz. Callie can't focus.
The teen squints, she's trying, she really is, but the words won't make sense. All she knows is that she can't let go. Someone pulls and Callie lurches forward with her tugging backpack, scuffing the toe of her boots before her knee crashes into the concrete. She feels that pain.
Why isn't she standing up? Her leg won't do what her brain tells it to and Callie knows. She knows how dangerous this position is. She's on her knees. Callie is borderline helpless. Borderline. They haven't knifed her yet—or shot her for the bag. She can still think, no matter how muddled, she still knows what it means to survive. Survival means sacrifice.
The first kick is hard but poorly aimed and muffled cursing follows Callie's forehead to the hard ground. Her arm wrenches and she drags along the station floor before she makes the choice. Callie lets go of the bag. Who the hell cares? She doesn't need that anymore either.
Running footsteps echo in the empty, flickering light of the underground station. Callie hears them loud and clear, she sees the sharp lines of her muggers' retreating backs. A twisted sense of solidarity spans between her grimacing smirk and the three fleeing street kids. She doesn't blame them. Callie is one of them now. Every last ounce of strength that she has left evaporates after Callie drags herself back onto the immovable bench and lies down.
She can't keep her eyes open. It's time. Callie has done everything in her power to stave off this moment—the one where she finally has to acknowledge that they know. Day One, she smashed her watch and ripped Wyatt's CD player out of the car. She knows what time Stef gets up. Stef would be the first to realize.
"You're not disposable, Callie. You're notworthless."
Callie tries not to remember. The words don't make her cry anymore. She's made them meaningless. Instead she forces herself to close her eyes, allows her body to go limp. She knows the dam will break. It's ok to let go—for the first and last time. She has to let it happen, Callie knows that one day it will, no matter how hard she fights against it. It's best to get it out of the way now. So, Callie deliberately lies still, all alone now, with nothing but the clothes on her back and tries to imagine it.
She can pin point the moment that Stef discovered Callie missing.
Every rolling ache in the teen's chest crests with an image, a sound, a memory or a fantastical nightmare of Stef and Lena. She lets it happen, just this once. She pretends that they're in pain, opens herself up to it. She can manufacture their panic—their anger and the hurt that Callie's caused. She knows how helpless they feel. She knows they love her.
Callie does it to punish herself and to move on. She can't live with them and right now, she doesn't want to live without them. So she obliterates them in her mind, builds them up, tells herself she had everything she ever wanted…and then she makes them angry. She turns them against her. She tears the Fosters to pieces in her mind…but she still wants them to come and get her. It makes her sick to her stomach to admit that she wants the Moms to swoop in and rescue her, hold her and comfort her. If Callie survives the night, she'll move on.
But this is as far as she goes. She'll run circles around this city 'til the day she dies.