"Gemma, let's go! We have to go," I said tugging at the small girl. She sat on the ground shaking her head, tears streaming down her red cheeks. We'd been running for almost twenty minutes. It may not seem that long, but for her, a kid who had never even walked before, it was pure hell. She dragged and crawled, that was how she walked. Like an animal. I learned how to walk. Heath had showed me how to walk about three years ago. Now it was my turn to teach Gemma.
"Home!" Gemma called pointing back toward the mountain.
"No, Gem, that isnt home. They just want to hurt us! We have to go before-" The loud barking of the dogs was not far behind now. "Gemma, please!" I begged. Her eyes flashed up to mine, fear flooding them. She lurched forward walking on her hands and feet, crawling once again. I ran to keep up with her. "Go, Gemma! Hurry!" I yelled when she stopped to look back.
"Good job, Pepper," his voice cooed to me. I gave him a small smile from under my bangs. "Just a little further, you can do it." Heath gripped onto my arms, pulling me closer and closer. Finally, he pulled me into his arms, hugging me to his chest. This is what it felt like to be held. This is what it felt like to be loved.
"Heath? Where is Doctor Berkley...?" I whispered to him, feeling the water drip over us. The rain hardly ever stopped in the woods around the Mountain. He ducked us behind a tree, his hands sliding down my back to rest at my waist.
"I'm not sure," he whispered back. I could feel my heart racing beneath my skin, the faint blush rising as it always did when I was with Heath. "But we have time, you know. Just us. Always us."
I nodded into his chest, feeling his own heart racing. He sat us on the ground, leaning his back against a tree. Watching the sun set was always my favorite time of day; especially with him. He kissed my forehead, holding me to him. "What are they going to do to Gemma?" I asked.
He stroked my hair down, pushing my floppy rabbits ears with it. "I'm not sure, Pepper. But I think they said something about a cat this time."
"Wolf...Rabbit....Cat...Lizzard. What does it matter? We're all the same inside. Broken, lonely and stolen." I shuddered at my own words, at the truth inside them. Heath just nodded tightening his arms around me.
"Funny how a wolf could fall for a little rabbit. Especially when that would just be a snack to any other wolf." He joked. I could hear the smile in his voice.
I rolled my eyes and looked up to Heath. "We're not full animal, remember?"
"The doc said we retain some of that animal though. I dont have the urge to eat you. Well, at least... not in that sense." He gave a wink, which made my face burn bright with a firey blush.
"That would be considered pedophilia." I told him.
He sighed dramatically. "How? I'm nineteen. You're sixteen. Plus, no one knows we even exist."
"You're still an adult."
"If I'm an adult, I should be free from this. With you. And Gemma." He flinched looking away. He was silent for a while. "If us being together is wrong, then why does it feel right?" He grabbed my chin and brought my face to his, smashing his lips to mine. I didnt fight it because he was right. It did feel right. It felt more than just right. He kissed along my jaw and down my neck, leaving love bites as he went.
We both jumped at the sound of a snapping twig.
"Filth," a voice snapped from a foot away now, "how did you two get out?"
Heath lurched to his feet taking me with him, holding me to him. "Pepper..." He whispered. One of the Hunters were standing a foot away, a gun pointed right at Heath. "I was planning my escape, what do you think?" Heath asked sarcastically, stepping in front of me.
"The doctor told you. If you snuck out again, you were to be shot on scene."
"No!" I yelled jumping in front of him. Heath yanked me back.
"Not you, Pepper. The doc isnt done with you yet." The Hunter smiled a crooked smile.
"I wont let you hurt him," I hissed between my teeth.
"How do you plan on stopping me, rabbit?"
Heath yanked me again, "Pepper, listen to me. I knew this would happen. And I'm ready. I'd rather be dead than live here one more day."
My heart came to a shuttering halt. "You wont stay here? For me...?" I whispered turning to look at him. I had to look up at him; he was so tall. The raindrops were making me blind, but I could just barely see the sadness in his eyes before I had to blink the droplets away.
"No." was all he said.
"What about Gemma?" I asked keeping the tears away.
"Take care of her. Make it count."
"Make it count? Make what-"
"I love you, Pepper. Dont forget that. Tell Gemma I got away or something. Dont tell her I'm dead."
"I-I wont. I love you, too." He leaned down to give me one last kiss before putting his hands over my eyes. "Dont listen now. Close your eyes. Imagine somewhere better. Imagine me...happier. Imagine us and that field we wanted so badly. And never forget us. Ever."
"I promise... But Heath," I pulled at his hands but he wouldnt let go. I felt a jostle and Heath was gone, shouting.
"Wait! No!" He yelled. "Ow, hey!"
"H-Heath!" My eyes shot open to see the Hunter, pulling a knife from his belt.
"Pepper, close your eyes!"
And I did.
"Gemma, over here!" I said gesturing her closer to the edge of the treeline. She watched me warily before inching closer. I stuck my hand out waiting. She stared at my hand before her eyes flashed to mine and then back to my hand. She took my hand and allowed me to lead her into the small yard. A house stood there looking rather broken down and empty. Gemma made a small noise in the back of her throat, trying to pull herself away. "It's okay. No one is here."
She nodded before leaning on me, hobbling our way toward the door. All the lights were out and there was no sound coming from inside. Gemma looked around us before pulling away to crouch on all fours. She stared at the door, waiting for me to open it. I sighed and pulled the door out of my path, staring into the darkness. I took a step into the house, the floors creaking under my feet. I gestured for her to wait there.
"Hello?" I called out.