"I'm sorry," she whispered, "for causing you so much trouble."
Raine couldn't answer, but instead, just shrugged and walked away. Earlier when he had seen her dashing towards his group, he knew it wouldn't be a good thing. Hitherto, he had believed she already left the city, as her mother had told him the previous night. Apparently, that wasn't the case. Words could not describe how he felt when she cried out his name, seized his arm, and made that scene in front of the gang; annoyance, alarm, and concern all came bursting forth at once. Instead, he kept a cool and collected front and, ignoring the baffled expressions on his gangs' faces, told them to leave.
Then when she had asked him, no, more like pleaded to him, if she could stay with him, he really thought she had gone insane. No, she couldn't stay with him for numbers of reasons. One, it would cause disastrous problems for him and his gang, especially if other gangs found out; two, it sank her deeper into the quicksand she had already gotten herself into; and three, it was just not done. The worst part of all, however, was the fact that he'd said yes.
He had actually agreed for her to stay.
He wanted to say no and tell her to go back home or find another place to stay, but he couldn't. With the expression she gave him when she asked, the look of anguish and torment in her chocolate-brown eyes, when it was usually glittering with gaiety and innocence, and with what she had said, he couldn't refuse. He also knew she would end up wandering around the city if he hadn't acquiesced to her request, which he found to be even more dangerous than her staying with his gang.
Raine sighed as he ran a hand through his blonde hair. He was putting the girl, his gang, and himself into a lot of danger by doing this; and the gang members will want an explanation as to why he's allowing the girl to stay here, and how he'd met her. However, that wasn't the only thought plaguing his mind. He wasn't blind to the fact that Kari still refused to believe in what had happened to her the other night. He couldn't help but feel a burning fury erupt inside of him, both at her bastard-of-a-boyfriend, and her.
Is it really that hard for her to believe it? He thought to himself for the umpteenth time. At the same time, however, he could not blame her.
Raine walked into the main warehouse room where all the gang members were. Everyone's eyes immediately fell upon him. It didn't take a genius to discern that they wanted an explanation. It also didn't take a genius to realize that Robin wasn't too thrilled with the fact that Kari was staying here.
"Look, I know—"
"It's okay man," Carl began, "we trust your judgment, but it'll be nice to know who she is. I'm pretty sure she wasn't someone you just met in the streets."
"In a way, she was," the gang leader answered nonchalantly.
The gang members gaped at their leader, not expecting that kind of answer. Raine, however, didn't feel like explaining everything that had taken place between them so far. He knew it was like betraying the gang's trust, but he hoped to keep the girl out of further dangers by doing so.
"If you idiots really want to know something about the brat that much, she's the one that helped me a few nights back when my leg was shot," Robin suddenly announced coldly, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
Raine had a feeling that Robin was only trying to drop the discussion, but it only made the others more interested.
"Really? So that means you've gone to her house before or something?" Johnny inquired.
The Ravens' leader groaned mentally to himself before answering, "Okay, let's just say I met her back when I stole that letter and that's how things happened. Now that you know, let's just drop it."
The others could tell that their leader didn't want to continue, so they pressed no more on the topic; instead, some of them decided to head out while others began playing poker. Though there have been multiple times when fights and dissension broke out among the gang, a mutual understanding evinced from them, creating a feeling of trust and loyalty.
After everyone either left or fell asleep, Robin asked hotly, "You're seriously planning to let her stay? For how long? Do you even know how much danger you're putting us and that girl in?"
"You think I don't know that? What else do you expect me to do? Let her wander around the city all by herself and get herself killed?" Raine retorted, his voice laced with irritation.
He knew that Robin was jealous; he knew that she hated Kari, and he knew she would be against his letting Kari stay. Without another word, the red-head turned around and stomped off. Raine sighed and thought, damn, how the hell did I get into this mess? He got up and sauntered towards the back of the warehouse. He stopped in front of a door and knocked. No answer.
Guess she fell asleep. He walked over to the nearest couch and lay down. It wasn't long before he fell into a dreamless slumber.
"Hey, Big Man! We're heading out. There's supposed to be something happening at Allison Avenue," Carl shouted out.
"Yeah, yeah, do what you guys want. Just don't get into too much trouble," the gang leader answered, as he got up. "What time is it?"
Raine gave a slight nod, and the others left. As he watched them leave, he suddenly remembered that Kari was staying here. He stood in front of the door of the room she stayed in and knocked.
"Hey, you still there?"
As he heard her mumble something, he turned the doorknob and pushed open the door. He saw her sit up, and something glittered in her hand. It looked like a golden locket or some sort of jewelry.
Raine froze as he heard that name echo through his head. At first, he was baffled, but then a boiling anger flooded into him. It's that fucking bastard again. What the hell is she thinking?
"What are you talking about?" Raine answered, suppressing the boiling rage.
"What do you mean? Where is this place? I've never been here before."
"What's wrong with you? You're the one that said you wanted to stay here?"
"I did? When? Jake, I don't understand what's going on?"
It pierced him when she addressed him as her boyfriend, and he couldn't understand why. He realized, however, that Kari was not emotionally stable, and that she couldn't discern reality from fantasy. Everything that had transpired the previous few nights, his telling her about her boyfriend being part of a gang, her boyfriend's betrayal of her, and her mom's telling her they're moving, happened too fast for her to accept.
"If you don't want to stay here, then go back home to your mom," Raine answered brusquely.
"I can't! If I go back, then I'll have to move, and I don't want to!"
Great, so she can remember why she came here, but not how she got here. Damn it, she's more trouble than I thought.
And there's the fact that she thought and addressed him by the person he despised the most in this world and would be more than glad to shoot his head off. He glared at her, her face in a mask of confusion. Every nerve and brain cell in his body wanted to tell her to leave and go back home; instead, he simply asked,
"Are you hungry?"
Kari's face suddenly broke into a bright smile and said, "Sure! I know where we could go!"
Without warning, the brunette jumped up, seized his hand and dragged him out the room.
"Wait, where're we going?"
She stopped and turned around, facing Raine. Her grin grew, and she let out a small laugh.
"It's a secret, but I'm sure you'll remember it. The only problem is… how do we get out of this place? I never knew you lived in a warehouse."
Raine gave an exasperated sigh and answered, "C'mon."
The gang leader led Kari through the warehouse until they were finally in the main room where everyone usually lounged around. Not a single body in sight. Raine guessed they all went to Allison Avenue. When the two of them stepped outside, Robin walked towards them. She turned to Raine and gave him an I-need-to-talk-to-you-now expression.
"Can you wait out here for a sec?" he said to Kari.
"Jake…" Kari frowned slightly, but then nodded.
As soon as Raine and Robin stepped back into the depot, the redhead crossed her arms in front of her chest and raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, I don't need to hear his name from you either. One is enough," Raine answered in repressed rage.
Robin sighed and hissed, "See, I don't know why you're putting up with this. Just tell her to go back. She's even more trouble now that she can't even recognize you from…"
"Just drop it. She still remembers why she ran away."
Without another word, he went back outside. Kari brightened when she saw him and took him by the hand again. Her medium-length brown hair fluttered past her cute, cheerful face as a cold wind blew past them. She suddenly reminded him of her…someone he'd met years ago.
Raine couldn't help but feel a strange feeling erupt inside of him; it was almost like a feeling of serenity. The ephemeral feeling disappeared quickly as he realized that all of this was just a fictitious lie. He gave the girl a quick glance. She was smiling again. It was the first time in weeks that he's seen her so carefree, and it calmed him to see her in such a state of bliss, but he knew she couldn't live this lie forever. She had to get out of her fantasy someday, and he was the one who would do it.
Raine looked up and saw Kari pointing at, what appeared as, a small ice cream parlor.
"You want to eat ice cream in the middle of winter?" he asked bluntly.
"Jake, don't you remember? Other than the park, this was the first place you took me out to eat," Kari said in a hurt tone.
Once again, fury and animosity erupted inside him, only this time it was accompanied by a new feeling.
It was always him. He was the one who she always thought about. He was the one that always came to her mind first, and what did he do? He played her; he used her like a toy. Despite everything that's happened, even after Raine and her mother have told her the truth, she still refused to believe it. It pained and angered him that she called him and saw him as her bastard-of-a-boyfriend.
"J-Jake? Are you okay?"
No I'm not fucking okay!
"I'm fine. And of course I remember… I was… just kidding and wanted to see if you… remembered."
Raine hated this; he abhorred the fact that he was keeping up with this facade. It wasn't helping her situation, and it definitely wasn't improving his. She needed to be reminded of what happened that night. She needed to remember… And the only way I can do that is by bringing her there.
A small bell rang out as the two of them stepped through the threshold, and a blast of warm air enveloped them. Raine closed the door, and they sat down near the back of the restaurant.
"What do you want?" Kari asked, as she handed him a menu.
"It doesn't matter."
Raine didn't care, and quite frankly, he didn't even want to be here. He'd rather eat with the rest of the gang than eat in a public place. People stared too much.
"Oh, c'mon, it's okay. I'll pay."
And I definitely rather pay for my own food than let someone else buy it for me.
"It's fine, just get what you want. I'm not that hungry anyway," the gang leader sighed.
"Are you sure there's nothing wrong? You're acting strange."
Of course I'll be acting strange if I wasn't the person you though I am, Raine thought irritably.
"Just get what you want and don't worry about me."
The girl would've persisted had not the waiter come up to their table and ask for their orders. While Kari pondered on what she wanted, the waiter stared suspiciously at Raine, who glared back, giving the waiter one of his do-you-have-a-problem looks. The waiter gave an apprehensive expression and then looked away. Kari finally told him that she wanted two ham and cheese bagel sandwiches, two drinks, and hash browns, oblivious to the "staring contest" that had taken place between Raine and the waiter.
"I told you I didn't want anything," he stated after the waiter went off.
"It'll be for later then, maybe when I get hungry."
The blonde-haired teen sighed again. She never thinks of herself before others. Or maybe it's just because she thinks I'm her boyfriend. How wonderful.
When the two of them finished, they went back outside. The sun peeked through the layers of clouds and a light zephyr picked up. By the excited expression Kari emitted from her face, he had a feeling she didn't want to go back yet. Sadly for him, it was exactly what she wanted to do.
Raine followed her as she took him to see the different areas in the city, and by "different areas", they were the places she and Jake went to during their few months together. The two of them went to places such as stores, movie theaters, and even her high school parking lot. On each of these stops, she rambled on about what had happened, and Raine simply added comments he hoped made sense. By the fifth stop, he felt as if he was the one going insane, and his abomination towards Kari's boyfriend doubled. Sure, the girl was happy, but it wasn't real. She was a prisoner of her own dream and couldn't get out. Not only did she refuse to accept the truth, she was also trying to relive past events.
"Hey, don't you think this is enough for one day? We got to get back," Raine asked peevishly.
"Oh, just this final sto—"
All of a sudden, the girl stopped and a worried looked surfaced on her face. Raine looked ahead and saw a tall girl with long black hair. She appeared to be staring at a sign or poster of some sort.
"We've got to get out of here," Kari whispered frantically, as she seized him by the arm and ran.
"Wait! What's going on? Who's that?"
Kari didn't answer; she kept running, and Raine, with no other choice, followed after her. She finally came to a stop at the park and slumped onto one of the benches, breathing deeply.
"What the hell's going on?" the Ravens' leader demanded in a harsher tone than he'd meant to.
"She's Melanie, you know, my friend. I guess you've never seen her much other than that time I tried to stop those guys from harassing her," Kari explained. "If she saw me, then she'll probably tell my mom."
Raine could barely believe half of what she was saying. It sounded so unlike her to say something like that.
"Why? Don't you think there's a reason why your mom wants to move out?"
"Jake, how could you!? You sound like you want me to leave!" Kari cried.
How come everything I say only makes her feel worse? Raine mused irately.
"Look, I didn't mean it that way. I'm just saying that she's probably just worried about you." Raine paused and waited for a reply. None came, and he continued, "It's getting late. We should get back."
But not before we take a small detour.
The brown-haired girl stood up from the bench and followed after him. Most of the snow had melted into slush, and had become stained with the dark grime of the city streets, buildings and cars. The atmosphere cooled as the sun dipped lower into the horizon. Raine quickened his pace, as he wanted to get back to the warehouse before nightfall. After some time, the two of them walked into Fetter Street. As soon as they did, Kari stopped and her eyes widened with shock.
"W-why are we here?"
So she does remember some things. His blue eyes met her brown ones. The look of anguish and torment that he had seen last night reappeared. Slowly, the girl began backing away.
"I'm not letting you run away from the truth," Raine uttered sharply, catching her by her wrist. "You can't keep running away."
"J-Jake… what are you talking about?"
He was so tired of hearing that bastard's name. Without replying, he walked towards the area where everything had taken place from the night before. Kari made a comment to protest, but reluctantly complied and followed. The two of them hadn't walked for more than a couple of yards before she stopped again and sank onto her knees. A stifled sob escaped from her mouth. Raine peered down and saw her hands clutching her head with her eyes shut tightly.
"Please, please… can't we go back… it hurts so much," the girl whispered, tears flooding down her cheeks.
Raine couldn't help but feel a stab of pain. He was hurting her. Hesitantly, he bent down and took her hands again.
"Do you know why?"
"No… I-I have to no idea… please…"
He sighed and answered, "I'm sorry for bringing you here. If you're really hurting that much, then let's go."
Kari sniffed and nodded. She got up, and the two of them began their trek back to the warehouse. The two of them remained quiet on their journey back, and it wasn't until they reached the warehouse that the girl stated she was tired and wanted to rest. As soon as he saw her enter her room and close the door, he slammed his fist into the wall in frustration and anger. He had tried to get her to remember, but it only ended up hurting her more.
Damn it! What else is there I can do?
For the next couple of days, Kari's situation didn't improve; in fact, ever since the day she went back to Fetter Street, she remained despondent and gloomy. At times, it seemed as if she did recall something, but nothing came to her. There were times when Raine tried to convince her to go back to Fetter Street but she expressively refused.
The members of the gang, for the most part, regarded her with apathy, although Robin still glared at her whenever she was mentioned or seen. There were a few members, mainly including Johnny, Carl, and Nark, who tried to ascertain more information about her by asking questions. Although Kari tried to answer their inquires as well as she could without giving away too much personal information, she did seem a bit distressed, and Raine ordered them to stop.
By the third day since Kari had stayed with them, Raine's patience began to wane. She continued to see him as Jake; and although he tried to remain as unaffected by it as possible, he couldn't. Ultimately, she was becoming a burden, and he had to get her back to her own home as soon as he could.
On the fourth morning, the gang leader woke up and discovered that the girl had not yet awakened. Seeing that everyone else in the gang, save for Robin, Sloth, and Johnny, were gone, the latter two still asleep, Raine decided to go out for a walk to clear his mind a bit. Before he left, he asked Robin to make sure Kari didn't run out while he was away.
"Fine," she answered begrudgingly.
As he meandered around the streets, he pondered on what he was going to do about Kari. He'd come to realize that once he finally does get her to recall everything, she will end up moving out of the city. He would probably never see her again. A feeling of sadness welled inside him, which he tried to suppress.
Suddenly, something caught his eyes, and he stopped. It was one of those "lost persons" posters, and it was a picture of Kari. Below the photo was a phone number, nothing else. He knew it wasn't very prudent if the mother had put her home address, but putting the phone number wasn't any better. Either way, people, especially gangs, will end up ascertaining more information, even if it were a mere phone number.
Glancing around to make sure no one was watching him, the gang leader swiftly ripped the flier from the wood post it was attached into. There's bound to be more of them, he thought darkly. I need to show this to that girl; maybe that'll convince her to leave.
Raine decided he would roam around a bit more before he went back to the hideout. As he predicted, there were more of the lost posters, but not as many as he had expected. At least there wasn't one at every corner of a street. After a good forty-five minutes, he headed back to the hideout, but when he went to Kari's temporary room, he discovered it devoid of her. Irritation replaced the initial feeling of panic that had arisen when he first found her missing.
"Where is she?" he demanded to Robin. "I told you to make sure she didn't leave by herself."
Robin's face contorted with fury, "What do you think I am, her babysitter? She chose to fucking leave. I told her not to, but she did it anyway. And there's no point in trying to find her. Just let her go!"
"That stupid girl, she's gonna get herself killed," Raine muttered angrily to himself, as he was about to leave.
"You do like her… don't you," the redhead suddenly asked softly, her head bowed.
"I told you before, I don't have any of those useless feelings towards her! Besides, it's not going to matter after this since she's leaving anyway."
Those words struck Robin by surprise, and Raine took that time to get away before she could stop him. Damn, where the fuck is she?
He first ran to Fetter Street, but as he suspected, she wasn't there; then he went to the ice cream-parlor-look-alike restaurant, but she wasn't there either. He went to every place she'd showed him, even the high school, but still couldn't find her.
Fuck! Where else would she go? She can't have gone home. He kicked nearest object he was by in frustration, which happened to be a mail box. Where else… wait… the park!
Without wasting a moment's time, Raine sprinted towards the direction of the city park. He wasn't that far away from it so it didn't take him long. He scanned the area, and sitting on a bench about forty feet away from where he stood was Kari.
Infuriated, he walked up to her and demanded, "What the hell are you doing here by yourself? I told you to tell me before you wanted to go somewhere."
Kari looked up and answered, "But it was getting so boring there. I woke up and you weren't there so I wanted to look for you. That red-haired girl told me not to, but I went anyway. Then when I couldn't find you, I just came here."
Raine stood there and glared at the slush-covered ground for a minute before deciding what to do. He seized her by the arm and dragged her to the main road.
"Wait, Jake, where are we going?"
The gang leader didn't answer and signaled for a taxi.
"Get us to Kerner Street."
With a nod, the driver began driving. It took only five minutes for him to get to the destination. Raine handed the driver the money, and he and Kari got out. As soon as they did, Kari asked,
"Wait... are we—"
"Yes, I'm taking you back home."
"NO! I don't want to go back!"
"Listen to me!" Raine ordered piercingly. "You can't stay with me forever. Go back home. Your mom's worried about you."
"How would you know?"
Raine took out the flier and handed it to her. If this doesn't convince her, then God, I don't know what fucking will.
"NO! I'm not going back!" the girl suddenly stated. "If she really did care, then she wouldn't have just wanted us to move out so abruptly—"
Kari's eyes widened in shock, as her hands flew to her left cheek.
"Listen to what you're saying! Stop running away from everything! I know you still remember everything that happened that night; you just don't want to remember! Open your eyes, Kari! He doesn't love you! He's never loved you!... And how can you say that about your own mom! She's putting her own life in danger by posting these fliers all over the city! Stop being so selfish and stop thinking only about your boyfriend. There are people that care about you, Kari, like your mom… and me… what about me? Did you come to me just so I can be a substitute for your boyfriend?"
Every emotion and feeling he'd kept bottled up since that night she begged to stay with him, anger, frustration, pain, jealousy, had finally erupted, like a shaken can of soda. Her last comment was the final straw, and he released everything that he'd held back. Kari's eyes glistened with tears as everything that Raine had said poured through her mind. Realization of everything she'd done for the past four days hit her like a freight train.
"Raine… I'm so… I'm so sorry. I-I didn't—"
"Go back home, Kari," the gang leader replied softly. "You'll be safer wherever you go than here."
The girl was struck by the comment and, without answering; she slowly and reluctantly turned around and walked towards her house. Raine watched as she rang the doorbell. Her mom come out and stared at her daughter before she wrapped her arms around Kari, and they both went in.
Author's Notes: I know, at the end of the last chapter Kari heard her own name, but that was still part of her dream.
Next Character POV: Kari/Cecilia (Yes, it's a double POV.)