A/N: Slight nudity at the end, read at your own risk.
Jean and her girlfriend tailed me for a while, but weaving in and out of backyards and trees helped me lose them. It didn’t take me long to find the house Rose had been talking about not long ago. It had probably only been an hour, but it felt like a lifetime had passed.
The house was a shabby two story, surrounded by disgusting muck filled ponds. All the lights were off, so I figured there was no electricity. It was perfect. They wouldn’t look here. They’d look for a ‘dream home.’
The old, warped door was unlocked and easily swung open with one push. As soon as I was safely in the house, I fell to my knees. It was too much. Too much had happened in such a short amount of time. My brain felt like mush trying to process it. I couldn’t think straight, the only things playing through my mind was the sound the knife made as it left Rose’s body, and the fear in Pepper’s voice as he yelled for me to run.
One of my closest friends was dead, killed right in front of me. The other… I had no idea. There was no way to know if Pepper would make it out alive. Hemp could be doing things to him… terrible things. I didn’t want to think of all the possibilities.
All I wanted to do was sleep. My body was drained, both physically and mentally. The stairs were too far away and too much of a task while in this state. The closest thing was a chair. I barely had enough strength to get myself to it. When I pulled myself into a comfortable sitting position, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander.
Pepper, he had saved me. He sacrificed himself, for me. He willingly let that creep have him, so I could get away. He put himself in the arms of a man who killed the only other person who meant something to us, all to save my life. He was my hero.
As my eyelids started to droop, I realized something.
I was starting to fall for Pepper.
“Thorn, Thorn wake up. It’s me.” A soft whisper pulled me from my sleep.
“Pepper?” I mumbled, still trying to pull myself out of my rest.
“Yea, it’s me.” His voice was shaky, but I could tell he was trying to hold himself together for me. When I opened my eyes, I saw him. His face was beaten, bloody and broken. His hands were covered in blood.
“Pepper, what happened?” I asked gently, not wanting to upset him. Unfortunately, his entire face crumbled.
“It was awful.” He sobbed. burying his face in his blood-stained hands. His shoulders bounced up and down, and I didn’t know what to do. I never really had to be the comforter before.
“D-do you wanna talk about it?” I hesitated, hoping I was saying the right things.
“He did t-things to me. To me, a-and Rose.” He managed to choke out between sobs. What he was implying shook me to my core, and I knew I didn’t need to hear any more.
Somehow, I managed to drag us both to our feet. I wrapped Pepper in my arms, and just let him cry. He gripped me tight, his bloody hands clutching my t-shirt as if it were the edge of a cliff. We pulled each other as close as physically possible. Any more and we would’ve been conjoined.
“Where did they go?” I asked. The blood on his hands scared me slightly, I wondered if he’d done anything to them.
“After they were finished with me, they left.” He whispered into the crook of my neck.
“And the blood?”
“Rose’s. I-I tried to save her. When they left. But s-she’s gone.” He balled my shirt in his hands. I shouldn’t have asked.
“I’m so sorry. We’re in this mess because of me.” I sighed. My royal blood ruined everything.
“But there’s no one else’s arms I’d rather be in right now.” He mumbled so softly I almost missed it. My heart fluttered for a second, but I scolded myself. Now was not the time.
“Pepper, lets go to bed, okay? We need some sleep, we can clean you up in the morning.” I suggested. We were both exhausted from the stress.
“Okay.” He nodded as he hesitantly pulled himself away from me. I felt the same, I didn’t want to leave his arms either.
It was still dark when I woke up. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was still dark outside, or because the grimy windows wouldn’t let light through. But I didn’t mind either way. We didn’t have any obligations right now. And, it felt really nice to have Pepper in my arms.
Him sacrificing himself to help me get away made me realize that I had feelings for him. He was always there for me, he was sweet, charming, easy to talk to and easy to relate to. How could I not have feelings for him?
I smiled to myself, reveling in the thought of the two of us together. I must’ve moved or something, because Pepper started to wake up. As soon as he realized he was clutching onto me with his still-bloodied hands, he freaked out.
“Oh god, I’m sorry.” Pepper pulled himself away and sat up quickly. “I shouldn’t be touching you, I don’t want to get you dirty.”
“It’s okay.” I smiled lazily at him, still half dazed from our cuddling. “I don’t mind.”
“I’m still sorry. Did I make you uncomfortable? With the, y’know?” He gestured to the bed, referring to the cuddling.
“Not in the slightest. But, you should go wash up. You don’t want any of your cuts to get infected.” I told him.
“I’ll go see if this place has running water.” He jumped off the bed and made his way towards the bathroom. “Will you be okay here alone?” He asked me, the concern in his voice apparent.
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me, wash up.” I shooed him away as nicely as I could. I got a slight smile from him as he made his way to the bathroom.
“Hey.” My breath hitched in my throat when Pepper exited the bathroom. While he was in there, I found a candle and now the light was illuminating his body in the best way. My heart felt like it was about to leap of of my chest.
“Hey.” He responded softly. He looked sad, which was unsurprising considering what just happened.
“How was your shower?”
“I’m so sorry.” I got off the bed and pulled him into a hug. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“Yes I did. If I hadn’t, you would’ve gone through so much worse.” He squeezed me tighter. “I don’t want you to have to go back there.”
“Thank you.” I whispered. How did I get so lucky to have such an amazing person just walk into my life?
Pepper pulled away slightly and looked me in the eyes. “You know I’ve always had a thing for you, right?”
“I-I did not.” I responded. There I went again, not realizing when someone had a crush on me.
“You can be so dense sometimes.” He chuckled, before pushing his lips onto mine. It was the best kiss of my life, though I didn’t have much to compare it too. He was soft, his lips moved so nicely with mine. It was as if it were meant to be this way.
Without breaking our lips apart, we moved to the bed. He sat down and I stood between his legs.
“Thorn,” He pulled back slightly and whispered against my lips, “I-I don’t want to be touched, but I can do things to you if you’d like.”
“That’s perfectly okay with me.”
And perfect it was.