Shannon's hand went to her mouth. "Mr. Thompson! Are you all right?"
He nodded and leaned against the doorframe. "Yeah, we had a bit of a misunderstanding, but I came out the victor in the end. I need your help though. Alexia is back in her room, but she was pretty involved with whatever was going on in that party. I couldn't get her to speak to me. I need you and the other girls to take care of her tonight and I'll deal with her punishment tomorrow. Think you could do that for me, Shannon?"
Suppressing the chill which escaped down her spine at the sound of her first name on his lips, Shannon nodded and cleared her throat. "You're bleeding."
He seemed surprised by this, as he reached up his fingers and brushed away the traces of blood from his nose, "Well that's just great. Little punk." He murmured before leaving down the hall.
Shannon considered going after him, but when she heard the retching noises coming from Alexia's room, she rolled her eyes and let herself in.
Maya sat up in bed, clutching the itchy sheets to her chest. "Is everything okay?" She squeaked as Shannon waved her off. "Yeah, everything's fine now. I got this, go back to sleep."
Tucking her hair behind her ear, Maya seemed to melt into the bed and disappear into her pillow, as if no girl existed there at all.
Shannon inhaled slowly, before opening the bathroom door, which managed to block the horrid acrid smell that wafted around the small bathroom, like a toxic gas.
Alexia stopped vomiting long enough to turn her head and look up, two lines of mascara running down her face. "What do you want? Get out of here."
Shannon tried not to breathe deeply, as she leaned against the door. "What happened to you?"
"Those jerks put something in my drink. I can't seem to..." And the puking started again.
Shannon winced at the horrible sounds no human should make, let alone a teenage girl.
Alexia gasped and coughed. "I bet you're just loving this aren't you? It's great to see me like this. Have a good look Virgin Mary, take a picture if you want. I don't give a fu...."
Another round of puking.
Shannon's eyes took in the girl before her, who clutched the toilet like it was her only lifeline. She felt an odd sense of emotion. Here was the one who had tormented her for years, causing her grief at any willing opportunity.
Alexia normally had such a predatory grace about her. A certain unspoken confidence to her movements, that didn't belong to someone their age and yet, that wasn't the person before her now.
All Shannon saw was a hurt, sick little girl who had gotten in over her head.
Sighing softly, Shannon lowered to her knees, placed her fingers into Alexia's onyx hair, which would need to be washed, and pulled it back.
Alexia's eyes shot up to her, before returning to pouring her insides into the toilet.
Shannon winced again at the horrible smell and the way the sick girl's entire body heaved and shook with each purge.
Without realizing her hand was moving, she found her palm stroking Alexia's back softly, the way her mother used to whenever she was sick.
Alexia's eyes poured out painful tears, which Shannon assumed were from the acid burning her throat.
She was wrong.
When she stopped vomiting, she leaned away from the toilet and rested against Shannon's shoulder.
Those tears weren't from physical pain, but something much deeper. It made Shannon's heart ache. "It's okay, Alexia. It's going to be okay."
At first her words lingered in the quiet until to her surprise, Alexia slumped down onto Shannon's lap where she cried fiercely. "They used me! Those bastards tried to date **** me. They almost did, but Mr. Thompson stopped them. He tried to grab me, but which ever one was on top of me, I think it was Joel, swung at him. Mr. Thompson fought both of them back and showed his badge, saying he was a teacher, and if they touched me again, he would destroy them. Then he pulled me out of there, bleeding and all. I don't know if he's okay."
Shannon stroked her hair, making sure not to touch the parts which were wet from vomit. "I'll check on him later. You just try to relax, ok? You're safe now."
Alexia couldn't seem to stop crying and Shannon wondered if something in her snapped? The bathroom had a small sink beside the toilet and Shannon had to assume the showers were down the hall, but this would do for now.
She reached up to grasp the washcloth Maya brought and hoped the shy girl would understand, as she wetted it in the sink and brought it back down.
Dabbing gently at Alexia's face, Shannon attempted to clean off the remains which stained her chin.
This isn't how it should have been between them.
Though Shannon wouldn't trade Iris for anything, she would've given whatever she had to go back in time and try harder to protect Alexia from her father.
Maybe if things had gone differently, they could have continued being friends like when they were children?
When she managed to clean her face and wiped off most of her hair, Alexia closed her eyes and passed out on Shannon's lap.
Her breathing was steady, and she didn't have a fever, so Shannon assumed she was going to be fine once she slept it off.
Bracing herself, she rose, carrying the unconscious girl with her. It wasn't an easy task, considering Alexia had a few pounds on her, but she managed to shuffle to the bed and lay her down as gently as she could.
She removed her heel, noticing that she was missing one, which was probably lost in the scuffle.
Shannon sighed, shook her head and covered Alexia up to her shoulder.
Just as she was about to leave, she heard a faint voice whisper. "Thanks."
Shannon found herself smiling, as she turned off the light and closed the door behind her.
It may have been too much to hope for, but the silent prayer for friendship escaped her lips. She reached out to her own door, before a cold wind caught her hair.
Shannon turned her eyes up the stairway, which led to the roof of the dorms. The trap door was propped open and from the small drops of blood on the beige carpet, Shannon didn't have to guess who was up there.
While the thought of simply returning to her room crossed her mind, a pulling need pulsated through her and suddenly her feet were moving up the stairs and through the door.
The freezing wind caught her, as she pulled herself up the small space and onto the roof, searching in the darkness.
Her footsteps were surprising quiet, as she tip-toed along, brushing past a large vent which pumped out puffs of air, as if it were breathing.
She was almost about to give up her search, until her eyes caught a line of smoke which escaped from behind one of the coolers.
Shannon twisted around it to see Mr. Thompson leaning against the vent, inhaling a drag of smoke, his face barely lit by the burning cherry at the end.
"I didn't know you smoked."
He jumped at her sudden presence, but relaxed when he saw it was her. "I don't usually. This is a special occasion. I had to bum one off a passing frat boy. Tastes like shit, but I haven't gotten into a fight since I was in the sixth grade, so seems fitting I'd do something immature."
"What was that fight about?" Shannon asked, sliding up next to him.
He smiled impishly and flicked out the used-up cigarette. "A girl. It always is."
She returned his smile, as he crossed his arms. "How is our rebel?"
Shannon sighed and tucked back a strand of hair. "Sleeping. She threw up everything in her stomach, I cleaned her up and put her to bed. I think she'll be fine. It's not the first time Alexia's been like that."
Mr. Thompson watched her, "You cleaned her up and everything? I thought the two of you didn't get along."
Shannon's eyes flicked up to his face which was shadowed by the darkness. "How did you know we don't like each other?"
He smiled an amused grin. "I'm not as oblivious as you seem to think I am. I could see from the first day she sauntered into my choir room, that she wanted to seduce me and you didn't approve."
Shannon felt a blush rush to her cheeks and was suddenly grateful for the darkness. His eyes scanned her face. "And even after all this, you still take care of her? You are truly a kind person, Shannon."
She shrugged. "I don't like to see anyone hurt. Even if it's someone I don't get along with. Speaking of which, how's your nose doing? Do you think it's broken?"
He brushed a hand to his face and shook his head. "No, I think it'll be fine. Lucky for me the little punk didn't know how to throw a decent punch."
Shannon took a step closer and without knowing it, found her hand reaching up to caress his cheek. "Good, I was really worried about you."
She was about to remove her fingers before his slightly larger hand covered her palm and pressed it to his face. In a voice which sounded much more vunerable than she imagined, Mr. Thompson asked. "You worried for me?"