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As Rain and Serena predicted, the school wouldn’t shut up about Robin’s apology. Someone from the previous class must have told someone else about what happened, and so on and so on, until everyone knew about it. Robin wasn’t even around to make sure that the tellings and retellings didn’t get out of hand; according to Cordelia herself, he had left the school to stay at the Band house for a little while.

“They just let him up and leave?” Serena asked, obviously disgusted. “What the hell is going on here?”

“Serena, listen…”

Everybody in the huge classroom quieted when Cordelia started to speak. Aware that everyone was focusing on her, she had to work up some courage before she could raise her voice.

“Corrie, you don’t have to say anything.” Rain pointed out in a stern voice. “I don’t know why everyone has gone ahead and created this horrible event into some spectacular rumor, but all they really need to know is that a crime has been committed against you. So unless you want to say something else, please, just let it be. Everyone in this room surely has enough maturity to treat this issue with respect, not fascination.”

“I know that.” Cordelia said, hesitantly. “I… I just want everyone to know… Robin said he was sorry. I believe that, and I hope the rest of you do too.”

With that, Cordelia lowered her face to show that she was done. The looks surrounding her contained curiosity, confusion, and the suggestions of fear and anger. Serena (sitting next to Rain) could think of nothing but the last option. To her, this was all so artificial. Of course Robin would make her say something like that, and of course he’d leave right afterwards to stop them from contacting him.

Furious, Serena could barely struggle through the otherwise-interesting science class. This was not only her wrestling with the intense suspicions of Robin, but also having to listen to the rest of the class babble about whatever different stories they had heard. Not much work was being placed in the hand-in bin. Alongside her, Serena could feel Rain’s exasperation and Cordelia’s embarrassment.

“You know what?” Rain finally broke the silence after thirty eternal minutes. “We aren’t getting any work done sitting here and worrying. I think we- us three, and anyone else who wants to- should go home.”

“And do what, how’ll we be any better at home?” Serena challenged.

“Myself and Sean will give Robin and Corrie the chance to talk to each other and supervise them, if they permit. Robin probably does not want to talk at the moment, but I’m going to try. Corrie needs to feel safe, so she won’t leave my sight.”

With that brief proposition, Rain, Cordelia, Serena, and Morgan and Norri as well all left the classroom. The teacher, who was already having a difficult time trying to encourage the class into dropping the subject of Robin and Cordelia, allowed them to be dismissed. Together they collected backpacks and jackets, and Rain confirmed that there would be adequate room for them in her car. The Band house was just a ten-minute walk away, but the five all wanted to find Robin as soon as possible. It wasn’t until the drive to home began that Norri asked a tentative question.

“Are you sure that Robin will even be at home?”

“Where else would he go?” Morgan questioned. “Half the town probably knows about him right now, it makes sense that he’d want to hide and stay quiet.”

“He wouldn’t leave Beast alone for too long, either.” Rain added, referring to Robin’s pet. Beast was a large, pale-gray rabbit with a black blotch on the nose and very fast legs. In keeping with his name, he was surprisingly aggressive for his species; anyone who didn’t know Robin very well was on poor terms with Beast in addition to him.

Serena’s plan, once she got inside, was to seek out Vivienne and find some activity to do with her that would distract them from the world. They could take a walk, watch a movie, or just sit together. Anything was fine as long as she could be with her best friend.

There were over fifty stories in the Band house, which was something of a misnomer. It was more of a massive apartment complex that included some basic facilities as well: a small library, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, and a theatre room. The living quarters were comfortable, but expensive. It was thanks to Mira’s family wealth that the Rainbow had been able to live together (all on the same floor), but all of the older members had to have jobs in order to support the costs. It was quite a bit better than the small and rather boring bedroom Serena had since she was five years old.

An elevator had to be taken to reach the eighth floor, containing all of the Rainbow’s bedrooms. Serena spent her afternoons and nights in the one alongside Sean and opposite from Morgan. Her room was fairly small, but comfortable and engaging. The window that was nearly fifty feet off the sidewalk provided a great view, and Serena had used her favorite shades -black and white- to personalize the dwelling. A black blanket sat over her bed, two bookcases leaned against one wall, and a desk for her computer stood next to the other. Overall, it was a pleasant environment to return to when she had faced a boring- or, in this case, stressful- day at school.

“Where are you going, Serena?” Rain had asked just before everyone had left the elevator.

“To Vivienne’s room, and then to mine. I don’t want to talk to Robin, but I’m probably here if Corrie needs me.”

“You know where I am if anything happens.”

Serena headed to Vivienne’s bedroom without delay. Vivienne was Sean’s girlfriend, also seventeen, who reminded her of Cordelia- but to a stronger degree. Vivienne was very beautiful, with wavy red hair and a vivid, endearing face, but she suffered from depression. On many occasions, she had woken up with a sudden and inescapable sad feeling, often accompanied by fear, anxiety, guilt, or self-hatred, and sometimes all at once. Serena loved Vivienne greatly and would stay up for many hours to help her when her own feelings became too overwhelming.

Once she reached the half-opened white door, Serena peered inside. Vivienne wasn’t sitting on her bed or at her desk, which was strange, considering that she wasn’t one who left it often. Serena surveyed the room quickly. There was no sign of Vivienne; her curtains were shut, but the bed was made. That didn’t matter- Sean could tell Serena where she was, surely. Quickly Serena left for Sean’s room instead.

Only a few steps outside of Vivienne’s room, Serena bumped into someone running. With a muffled curse she glanced up and saw Robin’s brown eyes glowering down at her.

“What’re you doing here, you criminal?!” she shrieked, but Robin didn’t answer. In an obvious panic he grabbed Serena by the hand in a tight lock and dragged her harshly into the nearest bedroom. It was Robin’s own, judging by the rabbit penned up in a cage and the blankness of the walls. Immediately Serena took in the stifling atmosphere: the room was hot, airless. How could Robin live, much less pursue happiness, in such an area?

Slamming the door closed, Robin faced Serena with a furious stare. Immediately, she felt her body numb in fear.

“I’m so sick of this shit that I have to deal with, Miss Gould.” Robin spat, his emotion rising with every word. “I can’t fucking take it anymore…”

“What the fuck are you dragging me into this for?!” Serena protested with vehemence. “Leave us alone, for God’s sake! Cordelia doesn’t deserve any shit from you and neither do I!”

Robin had advanced towards Serena while she retaliated with words. Now for the first time, she saw a glint of metal on the floor, which did not become what it was until she truly looked at it. It was a small handgun, undoubtedly real.

Serena’s body had become stiff before Robin touched her. He was pinning her down with one arm at her throat, hatred pouring from his face in an almost tangible form. Screaming to attract attention from anyone who might be nearby, Serena heard none of the words Robin yelled in her face, fear flooding her veins. When his hand came closer to her chest, Serena’s hand shot to the handgun without thinking.

The act that Serena would remember forever took less than a second to accomplish. She pointed the gun upwards and squeezed the trigger, not knowing the machine was loaded, not knowing that the barrel of the gun was directed at Robin’s chin. He noticed her threat, and their eyes met for the shadow of a second before the metal struck him.

The bullet came out with an ear-piercing bang six inches away from Serena’s own ear. Beast shrank back in his cage and gave a rare screaming sound of shock. Robin had no time to react. The bullet struck his jaw and shot through his skull into the wall next to him. He flopped backwards limply, blood streaming from his broken jaw, a look of shock frozen forever on his face. The last movement he ever acted was the slow closure of his eyes before his body was splayed still on the carpet.

Serena did not move at all. She was lying half-sprawled on the white carpet, the cold metal between her fingers, her eyes wide and still. Robin was a curled mass with blood seeping onto the floor from his face. Beast was standing stiffly, staring hard at Robin, ears and nose twitching rapidly in quiet confusion.

“…Robin…?” Serena whispered in extreme weakness, as though attempting to see how quiet her voice could get. Robin didn’t respond at all. He remained in the awkward, prone posture he was in even when Serena spoke again, and a third time.

Moving like a hypnotized toddler, Serena crawled to Robin’s body and placed her fingers over his neck. There was no pulse remaining. His chest was still of breath, his limbs and fingers motionless. Other than his tensed body and the blood pooling sluggishly underneath him, he looked almost like a sleeping person in the silence. Unconsciously, Serena grasped his bony shoulders and moved them into her lap, pushing her fingers farther into Robin’s neck. His warm blood was staining her fingers in a slender stream.

Serena had originally planned to stand up and leave the room, but her legs had gone numb. She crouched like a statue with Robin’s body underneath her hands. The in-and-out, classical numbness that was supposed to be freezing her body was not forming. She completely understood what had just happened, and that was what kept her glued to where she sat. Robin was dead.

The door opened without warning. Serena didn’t look up, for all she could think was how she was going to be exposed as a murderer. Judging from the silence, the intruder wasn’t Rain. They gasped faintly, but did not speak until Serena could look in her direction.

“What… Serena, what… happened?” the intruder choked. Serena recognized the voice as Vivienne, yet did not respond. Was Vivienne not in the room, Serena knew that her best route of escape was pointing the gun at her own chin and pulling the trigger.

“Did you… you couldn’t save him…?” Vivienne rasped, a whimper entering her voice. “Oh… Th-this is so bad…”

“I couldn’t.”

Serena’s voice startled her so much that she stifled a scream, but was somehow able to continue in a rapid voice. Every word seemed to fall rather than flow from her mouth.

“Vivienne… you have to tell Rain, right now. C-call the ambulance. They can take him to the…morgue.”

Vivienne did move from her space, but not to do what Serena asked. She sat down next to Robin and laid her hands ceremoniously across his wound. Serena didn’t know what she was doing, but it didn’t matter. Nothing seemed to matter anymore.

When Beast made a slight noise with his mouth, Serena shifted closer to his cage and fumbled with the lock. The grey rabbit gave his head a shake before he stepped onto the carpet and hopped over to Robin, twitching his ears and nose with an air of curiosity. Without thinking, Serena picked him up underneath his body and held him. Beast struggled at first and even nipped her, but she somehow didn’t want to let go of the animal. As though he could sense her fear, Beast curled up in her arms and closed his eyes. Cradling the rabbit in her arms, Serena slowly walked out of the bedroom, leaving Vivienne staring at her in complete confusion.

“Wh-where are you going…?”

“To tell Rain.” Serena muttered. She walked away then, ears blocked to the sounds of Vivienne’s protest.

Rain’s questions came all at once- too quickly for Serena to perceive, much less answer.

“Serena? What just happened? I heard a gunshot, is someone injured?” Rain’s voice was clear and slow enough to be understood, but carried a hint of panic.

“Yes…”

“Who is it? Did you call 911?”

“I didn’t. It was Robin, he’s dead.”

The effect was immediate. Cordelia gasped silently and Rain’s eyes became expanded. The Rainbow’s counselor couldn’t speak in the silence until Beast slipped out of Serena’s weak grip and hopped away from the crowd of people.

‘Let me see him.” Rain finally broke the thick silence. Serena moved a little and Rain walked hesitantly into Robin’s bedroom, where she caught sight of him immediately. No hypotheses or guesses were necessary as to how his life had been lost.

-

Serena lay unresponsive on her bed, half-curled up, breathing shallowly. Vivienne had tried to help her, but Serena would not let anyone near her. All she could feel was guilt.

Everyone had said the same thing: Robin had committed suicide. No one had questioned why he would shoot himself in the mouth instead of the head, or why Serena had found him before he died but couldn’t stop him, or why the gun was several feet away from his hands when he died. No, none of those were questioned. His death was the same as Kenneth Longmire’s had been; an accidental tragedy.

“I was hoping he wouldn’t do this.” Rain had said over and over again, a few rare tears bubbling up in her eyes. “I’m so disappointed in him…”

Serena was bursting to confess that she had shot him herself. Maybe he was about to hurt her, but that did not give her an excuse to kill him. Help had literally been two rooms away, but one thoughtless action had irreversible consequences.

It was hard for Serena to let herself just lapse into crying, nevertheless. She wished that she could have some kind of fog overwhelm her brain and prevent her from appreciating the enormity of her situation. Murder was punishable by up to ten years in prison where she lived, and for her age. But, far worse than that, her friends would never look at her the same way again after she had purposefully taken a human life. They could not know that she was a killer instead of a bystander. For the first time in her life, Serena felt a strong urge to return to Robin’s room and turn the gun back onto herself.

Many times over, Sean had told Serena, and the rest of the Rainbow, to come to him immediately if they were ever thinking of suicide. Out of loyalty to him rather than really caring about herself, Serena slid off her bed and started towards the living room, the same place the Rainbow had sat and talked after Kenneth had been found dead.

Once Serena was inside, she was relieved that only Sean and Vivienne were there. Serena was worried as to how she was going to tell Sean about her suicidal feelings without admitting to killing Robin, which seemed almost impossible. All she could do was say that the pressures were becoming too much, which was not a lie in most respects.

“Sean…” Serena spoke to catch Sean’s attention. He was looking absently out of the window and holding Vivienne’s hand lightly, but came back to attention when he heard Serena’s voice.

“How are you, Serena?” Sean asked gently, watching as she sat down. Sean had clearly been crying- evident in his slightly scratched voice- but seemed calmer now.

“…I’m really bad.” Serena whispered. “Really fucking bad.”

“What’s happened?” Sean pressed as he faced her fully, unbothered by her cursing. Vivienne was still gazing out of the window. Serena launched into her speech without restraint.

“I feel like… Like, I can’t take all this pressure anymore. I’m extremely sad right now and I feel like I’m going to… to try to kill myself or something. I know that sounds weird because Robin just did, but…”

“It’s not weird at all.” Vivienne interrupted sadly. “It’s normal…”

“Maybe so, but that’s a concern, Serena. Can you tell me about how you feel?”

“Yeah.” Serena answered, her voice cracking erratically. “I… I feel like I don’t deserve to live anymore… because I couldn’t help Robin. I wasn’t fast enough and I feel like it’s my fault…”

Serena fell into tears again. These were not the quiet, gentle, easily controlled cries she would release after a hard day; she was sobbing uncontrollably into both hands, almost unable to breathe, tears spilling onto the thick cushion. Sean wrapped both of his arms around the distraught Serena, but her tears did not abate.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.” he intoned, his voice quiet and melodious. “You have a lot of sadness inside you right now, so just let all of it out now. Think of it as like throwing up… It has to come out of you. Don’t hold it in or it will just come out worse.”

Sean’s soothing words had no positive impact on Serena. What was keeping her from just telling him the truth right now, she didn’t know, but the few words just would not leave her lips. Instead she cried even harder.

“I just want to die! I want to die!!” Serena wailed in anguish. “I can’t take it anymore…!”

“Serena, yes, you can. I know you well, and you’ve been through tough times in the past… But once you give up, you won’t be able to fight anymore. You’ll be beyond our help. And more than that, you’ll just make the pain of Robin’s suicide even worse. You will do yourself a far better favor if you just stay here and keep going.”

Vivienne intervened quietly with something that helped more than Sean’s encouragement: “Serena, how do you think I’d feel if you did something like that? Don’t you remember what happened…?”

Serena would never forget finding Vivienne. Slicing wrists had been far bloodier than Serena might have imagined, and the shock afterwards had taken weeks to dissipate; it had taken weeks for the nightmares and sudden spells of nausea to stop becoming commonplace. Had Vivienne died, those spells would never have ended.

“It’s safe to have these feelings, Serena.” Sean maintained gently. “All I ask is that you don’t act on them… We’ve lost Kenneth, Robin, and maybe Carlos by now. I am not losing anyone else, not least of all you.”

“I don’t know what to do, then…”

“You can talk to us. You can sleep, you can watch or listen to something, whatever helps. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.”

“But, please… Don’t do anything bad.” Vivienne implored, sidling over to Serena and hugging her.

“…I’m going to… To go see Robin. Rain might need help… cleaning up.”

Without waiting for a response, Serena walked unsteadily out of the room. She did indeed want to see Robin’s body before he would be taken to the hospital, for an unknown reason.

Rain had placed Robin on his bed, on a dark-colored sheet to obscure the blood stains. He was lying on his back with his head turned to one side. Rain herself was holding a pad on the wound to stop the bleeding.

“It’s unfortunate that he shot himself here.” Rain observed, her voice heavy with sadness. “I might have been able to save him if it was elsewhere. But he definitely didn’t suffer…”

Serena sat on the opposite side of the bed, staring unceasingly at Robin’s body. His face was white and lifeless as the sheets except for the dark markings of his closed eyes and lips. A comb lay nearby, and Serena grabbed it unconsciously, brushing it through Robin’s slightly messy hair.

“I’m going to clean up his body at the morgue.” Rain spoke. “Serena, what happened when you walked in here? Was he already dead, or did he kill himself before you could intervene?”

“…He threatened to shoot me if I didn’t back off.” Serena had to force out her words. “I tried to knock it out of his hands… Honesty, why the fuck did he even have a gun in here…?”

“Robin was a nervous man, Serena. He probably felt he would need one for protection since Carlos has gone missing. Still, I thought he was… trustworthy enough not to use it for suicide…”

“I did, too.” Serena whispered, feeling more tears well up in her sore eyes. “…And I’ll come with you… to help.”

“Thank you, Serena.”

As she watched Rain stifle her grief by washing the blood off Robin’s face, Serena could think of nothing but how she could keep her secret. So far, Sean, Vivienne, and Rain at least wouldn’t suspect her. The events had spiraled from a friend’s trauma to murder in just the past week… Lying in the warm darkness of her bedroom at night, Serena silently asked the master of the universe for her life to end in a blameless accident.

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Written by Grizzly Bear

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