Aj felt nauseous waiting outside the courtroom for the jury to decide their verdict. She had listen to his fake cries and crappy defense about making a single mistake. It didn’t matter if he was genuinely sorry that he killed her father all she wanted was for him to pay. She decided she needed air after too long and ran outside to breathe but unfortunately, the local press was waiting for her. Before they could surround her she saw Mr. Chester pushing through the crowd. He shielded her before facing the press.
“Ms. Jones has no comments now or after the trial. We ask that you show sympathy for her loss and not act like vultures” he scolded the press. Then lead Aj to the side of the courthouse that was closed off to the public.
“Thank you” Aj finally breathed.
“I wanted to check on you. I can only imagine how difficult this must be” he informed her.
“He’s rich and a football star” Aj stuttered out.
“Are we stating facts now?”
“What if he gets away with it, killing my father” she spun around to face him.
“I don’t have an answer for you. I haven’t experienced something like this before but you're a smart girl I know you'll figure it out” he avoided the question.
Aj looked at him wondering if he would be okay with what she and Charlie talked about last night. She felt like she could confide in Damion but some things weren’t meant for certain people so she kept it to herself.
“I'm just so angry,” she told him instead.
“You have every right to be angry I know I would be”
“He deserves to be punished” tighten Aj’s jaw. Charlie then walked out to the courtyard interrupting their conversation.
“They’re ready,” she said in a hushed voice. Aj walked over to her reaching for Charlie's hand and gave a weak smile to her as she squeezed it then quickly let go before entering the building.
The walk to the courtroom seemed like the longest walks of her life. She sat behind the prosecutor and waited for the judge to walk back out his chambers.
“Now before I let the jury read their verdict. Did the victims family have anything to say?” the judge asked.
Aj stood up not sure of what to say but knew it was better to keep the fact that she wanted him dead out of it.
“I don’t really know what to say I mean iv thought about it plenty of times but now that the moments here, I’m drawing a blank. All I can think about was what a good father he was before you killed him. My mother left us shortly after I was born, and he had to raise me himself. Which if anyone has looked at my record know that wasn’t an easy job. Though he never gave up honestly, he was the perfect mixture of compassionate and strict. Now that he’s gone I have never felt so lost. You took the one stable thing I had in my life and if I'm being completely honest I hate you for it. Out of all the crappy people in this town that you could have killed you killed him instead.” Aj felt herself getting angry so she decided to end it there and took her seat next to Charlie. Charlie wasn’t being her typical clingy self with Aj which is what made this worse. Anytime she was in front of anyone from town besides Aj, Hayley, and Will she was careful not to show their relationship. It was starting to bother Aj she needed her touch more than anything now but knew now wasn’t the best time to get into it.
One of the jury members stood up and addressed the courtroom. Aj didn’t dare look at them she knew what was coming before the words “Not Guilty” even came out of their mouth. She felt the goosebumps cover her body as the defendant's side chair. Her head felt light-headed and she had this sick feeling in her stomach. All she could manage to do was force her way out of the courtroom. It felt like the world was spinning and she was suffocating on the air around her. Just like that day she had to leave she had to get as far away as she could so she ran. This time there was no blackout she knew what she wanted, and it was to get out of this town. She ran towards the bus stop downtown and looked at the board for departures.
She didn’t know where she wanted to go but as long as it wasn’t here it was okay.
“Trying to escape” a man's voice called behind her. She turned around to see a man in a camo uniform.
“That obvious,” she said still out of breath.
“No matter where you go it's not going to give you what you’re looking for”
“And what am I looking for?” Aj kept looking at the bus schedule.
“A place where you belong. I know that feeling of not knowing where you fit in.” the man explained.
“Is this where you tell me joining the military will fix that?” she asked.
“That depends what you’re looking for. So what is it you are looking for?”
Aj thought about what she wanted and the simple answer was she wanted the football player dead for killing her father. She wanted revenge she was tired of seeing criminals getting away with their crimes just because they had money, prestige, or even a good defense attorney.
“I guess I want to be like my father and stop the bad guys,” she told him. The man walked over to his table and pulled out a pamphlet.
“Well if that’s all you want then we can definitely help you” he handed her the pamphlet.
She talked with the recruiter for the next hour and went over everything she would be taught in the military. She told him she would think about it and she was telling him the truth. She walked back home with the form and pamphlet in hand. She had a lot to think about and going back to Wills's house wasn’t what she needed right now. She knew that they would be waiting for her and needed space more than anything now.
She went into the woods where she sat by a small creek. She listened to the noises of the wilderness and the water rushing by. It was almost like nature was giving everything that she needed right now. She laid down in the dirt not having a care in the world staring at the application. This could take me anywhere she thought to herself and give me the skills I need to make people pay for their crimes. She thought back to when she killed Wills's mother it was pure luck that she got away with it and she would have to be more careful covering her tracks for the football player. She had zero training in how to fight and he wouldn’t make it easier on her. She didn’t even know how to kill someone so that was something else she had to learn but she couldn’t exactly google it. That would leave too many traces back to her. The military would train her though give her everything she needed to make him pay.
She had made up her decision by the time she walked back to the house. When she walked up she saw Charlie sitting on the steps even though it was late at night. When Aj was close enough she saw Charlie's eyes get big as she ran up to her hug her. Aj wrapped her arms around Charlie's waist feeling sick to her stomach about having to tell her that she decided to join. She would have to leave Charlie for who knows how long after just finding her. Aj decided not to tell her right away and just enjoy what time she did have with her.
“Are you okay?” Charlie asked
“No, but I knew what was coming I think we all did”
“He won't get away with this. He’s already expelled from school and ill make sure he doesn’t forget every time I see him”
“I need you to drop it for now” aj urged Charlie
“But he cant just get away with this” Charlie insisted.
“He won't I'm working on something but I don’t need anything coming back to me.”
“What do you have planned?” Charlie gave her a curious look.
“I'll tell you later, right now I’m honestly starving” Aj gave her a weak smile.
“Well you’re in luck I made some chicken alfredo” Charlie grabbed Aj’s hand and began walking her to the house. Aj loved pasta and could eat all day every day if she could so this actually cheered her up a bit. That and the fact that she knew Charlie cooked it for that exact reason. Though in her head all Aj could think back to is how Charlie never held her hand in court how she wasn’t really there when she needed her the most.
Aj sat next to her on the couch and ate quietly. She didn’t really want to talk to Charlie but didn’t want her to leave at the same time. Though that wasn’t the type of person Charlie was she didn’t let things go she wanted to talk about the current events.
“I wish you would tell me what’s on your mind” Charlie insisted.
“I know you do. I have caught every sigh and glare”
“Well I don’t like not knowing how to help you”
This bothered Aj because she could have helped her earlier but she was too afraid.
“You could have helped me earlier by at least holding my hand” snapped Aj.
“You know I can't!”
“Why because your afraid your perfect image will be ruined?”
“Have you ever thought about anyone but yourself? I know you're going through a lot but you haven’t even stopped to see the small steps Iv put towards coming out” argued Charlie.
“Excuse me if iv been a little preoccupied with my father's death”
“I know you’re hurting but you don’t have to take it out on me. Iv spent every second with you even went to court for you. Do you think that doesn’t look suspicious to everyone? We just started to be friends to everyone else and now I don’t ever leave your side.”
“I need space, not someone clinging to my every movement” Aj honestly told her.
“If that’s what you want then no problem,” Charlie said as she got off the couch. “When you're done acting like an ass, call me” she slammed the door.
Aj wanted to chase after to tell her to stop that she was sorry but she knew she couldn’t let herself be so weak. What she had planned would need strength and no distractions. Charlie was the biggest distraction right now and if she wanted to perfect her plan she needed to make no mistakes. This would hurt both of them but Aj wanted only one thing at this point and nothing would get in her way.