Another request fic. Someone wanted to see a back story from the point of view, more or less, of a minor character. She wasn't specific, so I chose someone not even mentioned in the main stories (yet): Aaron, Viola's best friend in high school.
If I ever stop procrastinating and work on my DoD prequel, Aaron'll be a main character in that. This would take place around that same time period.
His eyes were drawn, as they usually were, to the door just as she strolled into the classroom. Any one of the other five thousand people on campus could walk through the door and he wouldn’t bother glancing over, but something about Viola Ashwood captured his attention. He watched her green-gold eyes sweep across the room before she started towards her desk. He wished he knew what it was she looked for whenever she entered a room. What made her spine stiffen for those brief seconds?
Aaron grinned up at his best friend. “Hey, V.” His eyes fell to her ornate gothic cross belt buckle. The shiny silver stood out against the black of her pants and long-sleeved t-shirt. “Mary’s going to freak when she sees your buckle. She’s been searching for one like that for months.”
“I know. She’s getting one just like for her birthday next week. A buddy of my brother’s makes them.” Viola dropped her backpack to the floor and slid into the hard plastic chair in front of Aaron. “Don’t say a word, though. It’s fun to watch her squirm.”
His retort, something witty sure to make her finally fall in love with him, withered on his tongue when she distractedly shoved up the sleeves of her shirt. Black and purple bruises dotted her left arm and ringed her right wrist. The neckline of her shirt shifted when she leaned over to pick up her pen. Aaron spotted a line of butterfly bandages on her shoulder. There were long pink scratches on her collarbone.
“Jesus, V,” he rasped, brown eyes wide with horror.
Viola hastily yanked down her sleeves. She shot Aaron a quelling glare when he opened his mouth again. “Class is fixing to start.”
He nodded jerkily and opened his textbook. He couldn’t take his mind off the marks on his best friend’s pale skin. He knew her home life sucked: her father had disappeared on her sixteenth birthday, her mom was a nutcase, and her older siblings were overbearing. She’d come to school with a bruise or two before, given how often she snuck out of the house it was expected, but never like that.
The small notes he shoved under her elbow went ignored. Her attention was wholly focused on Mrs. Cavazos. He knew it was only because she wanted to avoid him. She had the highest grade in the class but she never paid attention their teacher.
“Did everyone memorize a passage this weekend?” Mrs. Cavazos asked, glancing around the room full of half-asleep juniors. “No volunteers to go first? How surprising. Ms. Ashwood, why don’t you have the honor?”
“’By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule,’” Viola quoted, voice devoid of inflection and eyes fixed on the clock at the front of the room.
Ah, Poe, again. I should have known, Ms. Ashwood.”
“Yeah, like the freak reads anything else!” One of the football jocks in the back of the classroom called out. His buddies and their cheerleader girlfriends laughed loudly. A few other students tittered nervously, their eyes sliding away from a visibly vibrating Viola.
While Mrs. Cavazos tried to restore order, Aaron leaned forward to cover one of Viola’s clenched fists. He bent his head so that his electric blue hair mingled with her dark auburn strands. “They’re just sheep, V.”
“I know that,” she ground out between clenched teeth. “I’m fine, Aaron.”
Surprised because she hardly ever used his full name, he dropped back into his seat. Fortunately, the rest of the class passed without any other incidents. He threw his book and spiral into his backpack, but by the time he pulled the zipper closed all he could see was the back of Viola’s head. He watched her gracefully bob and weave through the congested hallway and made a vow to talk to her before lunch.
He’d quit track after tearing a ligament in his knee the previous spring, but hadn’t regretted the decision until recently. He had been Viola’s usual running partner, though he suspected she deliberately slowed down to keep pace with him. A three-mile run around the track would have been the perfect time to talk about the bruises.
By the time fourth period rolled around, his stomach was in knots. Had Viola’s brother hurt her? If Sebastian Ashwood was beating her, had she told anyone about it? Did her sister know? Was her sister part of it? Did she have any other family members she could live with?
Worrying his lip ring with his tongue, Aaron walked right past his fourth period classroom and towards the gym. He hung out in the hallway outside the girl’s locker room and gently grabbed Viola’s shoulder when she appeared beside him. “Skip?”
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?”
For the first time in hours, Aaron smiled. That was as good as an agreement. “Not likely.”
“Yeah, okay. I didn’t do my Spanish homework, anyway.”
Aaron led the way out of the school. Once they were off school grounds, though, he faltered. All of their usual hangouts were his favorite places. He wanted Viola to feel comfortable when they had their talk. “Where d’you wanna go?
Viola shifted her backpack and curled an arm around her middle as if protecting herself from something. She shivered, eyes on something in the distance Aaron couldn’t see. When she tilted her head to the side, he could see faint bruises on her forehead.
She jerked as if startled and shook her head. “Sorry, A. I know a place. It’s not too far from here.”
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Aaron cleared his throat. He peeked at Viola through his eyelashes. “You know you can always stay with me, right?”
“What?” Viola stopped abruptly, winced. “What are you talking about, A?”
"If your brother… you know…” He gestured towards her arms, courage fading. “If you can’t be at home because it’s too dangerous or too whatever… you’re always welcome at my place.”
“You think Sebastian did this?”
Aaron blushed. Why did jumping to the logical conclusion feel like a monumental mistake? He wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole.
“Oh, A.” Viola darted forward and pressed a brief, chaste kiss to the corner of his mouth. “You’re very sweet.”
“Hey!” He bristled at the compliment. No one had ever called him sweet before. He wasn’t sweet. He made freshmen run in fear at the sight of him. He’d even made a seventh-grader wet his pants once just by glaring.
“It’s true and you know it,” she taunted. The teasing smile slid off her face. She clasped his hands tightly and squeezed. “Thank you, Aaron.”
“So, what did happen to you, then?” he asked as they resumed their trek to Viola’s secret hideout.
A loud growl from the copse of trees across the street stopped both teens in their tracks. Aaron paled. Viola groaned. Still holding his hand, she dashed across the pavement towards the trees.
“What are you doing, V? It could be an animal. We need to call the cops or animal control or something!”
Viola chuckled dryly. “I know what it is and in this case, I am the animal control.”
Aaron gasped when she skidded to a stop, released his hand, unbuckled her belt, and slid it free from her belt loops. Her slender fingers pressed a hidden latch on the belt buckle he’d admired earlier that morning. By the time she was finished with it, it looked more like a dagger than a cross.
“Stay here.” She slipped her backpack off her shoulders and handed it to him. Her face was more serious than he’d ever seen it before. “I mean it, A. No heroics. Stay right here.”
“Sweet mercy this is going to suck more than running laps.” With a grimace Viola stealthily ventured into the copse.
A second growl had the tiny hairs on the back of Aaron’s neck standing on end. He tightened his grasp on Viola’s backpack and prepared to follow her. He couldn’t just stand by why she went after a potentially wounded, dangerous animal.
The squeal of tires on the street behind him kept him from taking more than two steps. He heard a door slam shut and then footsteps pounding on the wet grass. Glancing over his shoulder, Aaron saw a tall, broad-shoulder blond man racing in his direction.
“What’re you doing here, kid?” The man’s blue eyes slipped down to the backpack. His lips curled down in a frown. “I should have known she’d be here. Where’d she go?”
Confused, but grateful he didn’t have to face the whatever-it-was in the trees, Aaron pointed in the direction Viola had disappeared. He vaguely remembered seeing the blond man at Viola’s house once or twice. He thought the man was one of Sebastian’s friends.
A third growl started but cut off abruptly. Aaron could smell blood and smoke on the breeze. He shuddered. Was this what Viola did that gave her the bruises? Is this why she disappeared on weekends and didn’t return her phone calls? Just what in the hell was she involved in? How many other secrets was she keeping from him? Did he even really know her at all?
“So I get to the hospital to check on my three favorite pains in the ass, and sure enough, one of them is missing. No one saw you leave, but I didn’t think for a second you’d been kidnapped,” the blond man said as he dragged a sullen Viola out of the copse. “No one’s crazy enough to want to haul your irritating ass along, that’s for sure. I was on my way to school to see how your ribs were holding up when I get a call about a Brivid in this area.”
“It’s the same one we lost last night,” Viola interjected.
“I know that, Shortcake. It’s why I took the assignment. I figured I owed it a broken leg or two.”
“Did you see what it did to Livy’s arm?”
“I saw the pictures of what it did to you, too.” The man’s lips thinned. He gently shook Viola. “You’re damn lucky I got here when I did. You may think you’re invincible, kiddo, but you took a hell of a beating last night. You wouldn’t have lasted another two minutes against that thing.”
“Oh, please. I was doing fine.” Viola rolled her eyes. Her expression froze when she caught sight of Aaron. She inclined her head towards the blond man but Aaron could still hear her clearly. “A’s going to walk me home, okay?”
The man studied her for a moment before nodding once. “Fine. I’ve got to take care of the Brivid. I’m taking you back to the hospital tonight, though. You’re probably going to miss the next couple of days of school. Plus, Bas was pissed as hell at you.”
“Thanks, Toby.” Viola skipped across the grass and skid to a stop in front of Aaron. Leaves were stuck in her hair and there was a smudge of mud on her cheek, but she looked happier than she had all morning. With a hesitant smile, she linked her arm with his. “Guess we need to talk, huh?”
Well? What'd you think of Aaron? Interested in hearing more from him? Want to know where he's at now?