Liam spun around on the spot with haste. Instinctively he pointed the gun at me with a shaking hand. I could see the crippling fear crushing him and it made me hold my breath. The walls he used to hold himself up had crumbled to a complete collapse, there was nothing left to hold him together. His eyes were swollen, red and everything was raw like his pain was an open wound, infected and weeping.
“I told him to keep you away.” Liam spoke in a barely audible voice.
“And you thought that would stop me?” My brow furrowed. The gun was still pointed at me, his hand trembled and his knuckles gripped it tightly, like his life depended on this weapon. It was his only protection, his only way out.
My eyes softened when they focused on the fresh grazes that lay across his knuckles indicating that he had gotten himself in some sort of fight. They wasn’t bleeding but they looked sore, almost like burns instead of cuts. He had them on both hands not just the one he held the gun in.
“Liam -” I stepped closer but he stepped backwards instantly making sure the space between us remained in tact. I held my hand up in defense.
“Liv, don’t.” He warned, still holding the gun at me.
“You going to point that thing at me forever?” I gestured towards the gun. Liam glanced down at soulless heap of metal in his hand but he didn’t drop his arm.
“You should fear me.” He barely communicated.
“Liam you could have that the gun pointed at my head and I wouldn’t be frightened of you.” I replied honestly. “I know why you are here. I know who he is.” His grip around the gun tightened along with his whole body. The pressure of his grip made his fingernails turn white and his hand steadied ever so slightly but not enough to make him appear confident in his actions.
“Stop.” He spat out in a sinister tone.
I edged forward slowly, his eyes widened at my tiny footsteps and he held the gun higher, pointing it directly at my face this time. My hands still remained in the unarmed position and I didn’t take my eyes off his.
“Stop coming closer Liv, I’ve got a gun.” His voice was deep, cold and void of any emotions. He was trying hard to intimidate me but instead of running from his cry for help I walked closer, slowly. He watched each one of my footsteps with caution and absolute fear.
“This man, he took away your childhood don’t let him take away your future too. Give me the gun.” He looked down at my outstretched hand, contemplating handing over his weapon but sadly he just wasn’t strong enough to commit to that decision.
“I want him dead Liv. I want to kill him. I want to stop seeing his face every time I close my eyes and feeling him touch me every time someone brushes up against my skin. I want to erase him from my mind, I won’t be controlled by him anymore.” I could hear the anger falling out of his mouth and I questioned my tactics, I’m only making him worse. So I tried a different approach.
“Liam, there are kids in there. They are probably scared shitless and if you shoot him in front of them it will fuck them up for the rest of their life. Is that what you want?”
Liam took a moment of hesitation while he thought over my words, what I said had hit home to him because he could relate to something he experienced during childhood having a negative impact on his whole life. And for a fleeting moment, before he rebuilt his barriers I could see the Liam I know and love.
The Liam that was ashamed for his actions. The Liam that felt guilty for even contemplating doing this. The Liam that loved so fiercely whenever he allowed himself to, regardless of the fact nobody taught him how to thanks to the absence of unconditional love during his childhood.
“No.” He finally replied quietly, I could see the regret and guilt roll in among the self doubt.
“Then give me the gun.” He looked down at the thing that was poisoning his mind and then rose his eyes to my hand.
“I’m scared.” He whispered incredibly quietly. His vulnerability was showing through the silver of his eyes, it was truly heartbreaking.
“I know. But you’re not alone. You are powerful because although you’re scared you are going to go on despite your fear. You are not going to let him win and I am going to be here for you every step of the way.” He watched me slowly shimmying towards him and kept his eyes on my hand, it was like he was preparing himself for me to pounce on him and wrestle him to the ground for the gun that he currently had pointed between my eyes.
“You know how crazy your friends went over the past twenty four hours worrying about you? You have been fighting for something your whole life but you have had it all along. You have always been surrounded by love and you have always been wanted.”
I could see the tears forming behind his eyes and I felt confident enough to step closer to him now and place my fingers around the gun. His eyes softened as my fingers lightly dusted his. Gently I disarmed him and placed the gun inside my pocket.
“I really fucked up with you.” His croaky voice cried.
I raised my hand up and slung it over his shoulder bringing his head into my chest. He sobbed unceasingly, as his hands clutched at his leather jacket that I was still wearing. He clung onto me with his dear life as his body jolted with every tear shed. I held him in silence, gently rocking him as his tears soaked through to my chest.
Every ounce of grief he had attempted to hide throughout his life was spilling out at this very moment. He was completely overcome by the wave of his emotions, every defense he ever wore was washed away by the tidal wave of his salty tears. I consoled him through each one as we stood alone in the darkness of the elementary school corridor.
His sobs were ferocious, loud and messy with no sign of stopping. Ripping through his muscles, bones, and guts. Rendering him exhausted and out of breath. But I knew time was not on our side and I somehow needed to move him into one of the vacant classrooms.
“Come on.” I interlocked our fingers and led us into a classroom on the far side of the corridor. Closing the door, pulling down the blind and moving furniture in front of the entrance just to make it seem like we were realistic victims just like everybody else. Liam sat quietly with his head resting on my shoulder and I just listened to his heavy breathing.
Soon a SWAT team appeared at the door and evacuated us from the building. I spotted Jordan among the crowd of worried parents, evacuated children and masses of emergency services. He paced backwards and forwards frantically. Once he spotted us his eyes widened on the spot. Liam and I walked at a high speed towards him but it felt like I was dragging Liams limp body through the crowds.
“Quick before someone notices we should not have been here.” I said without stopping.
“Shit Liam...” Jordan screeched assessing the emotional damage on his face.
I helped Liam into the back seat of Jordan’s car, he was mute and helpless.
“He could have shot you.” Jordan whispered aggressively as soon as Liams car door had closed, obviously he was annoyed I went in after Liam.
“I knew he wouldn’t shoot me, he would not want to mess up his jacket.” I offered him the smallest of smiles before I climbed in next to Liam who still sat completely motionless just starring into space.