They got in the car and the two adults were smiling the whole time.
"What are you planning?" Chance asked. They didn't answer, they just grinned and stayed quiet. Brittany wished she could smile back, but it hurt too bad. Chance noticed that.
"It's fine, you look pretty without your smile. I don't want you to try to do something that will hurt you." he whispered.
She wished she could smile even more now. "I love you. I don't know what I'd do without you, Chance." she whispered back.
He kissed her cheek, as gently as possible. She didn't care if it hurt, she smiled at him. And it didn't hurt that bad this time. Her cheek was numb, and red from blushing. He grinned. The car pulled into a huge building, lit up like the 4th of July. She stared in awe.
"Where are we?", she asked in awe. The two parents grinned.
"We are at the home of the mayor. He wanted to hear your story and he has an award for you. And Chance too. He also has invited Madison, and Gabe to attend. Surprise!" his mom said happily.
"Oh, my gosh! You did this for us? I love you guys so much!" Brittany said, excitedly.
Chance wrapped his arm around her and grinned.
"I love you. This is amazing!", he said smiling as bright as the sun. They got out of the car to be surrounded by a crowd of applauding people.
Chance had his arm around her and they walked into the building together. They walked in and there stood Madison and Gabe hand in hand.
"Oh, my god! Brittany! You're okay, and you look so pretty!" Gabe said, grinning. Madison came up and hugged her.
"Ouch. Okay, I missed you guys a lot, but can you please let go? That hurt." Brittany said.
Madison drew back and hugged Chance.
"Thank you for taking care of her. It means a lot. Keep her safe, please." she said. Chance smiled.
"I will always take care of her.", he said and kissed Brittany on the cheek.
"So, what are you guys doing here?" Gabe asked. Brittany really wished she could smile at him.
"We're here to see the mayor, and you guys of course. So, what happened between you two while I was gone?" she said.
"Well... we kissed... and yeah. That's not the point! The mayor is upstairs, let's go!" Gabe said grinning.
They all walked upstairs, each couple hand in hand. They got to the door, and they got ready to see the mayor. Chance touched Brittany's cheek, and whispered 'I love you'. They opened the doors.
They walked in hand in hand, and the mayor was standing there smiling at them all.
"Hello! Welcome. I understand that you all have been through a lot these past few days, and in Brittany's case a few years. I was hoping that could here what happened in your own words. If any of it makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't have to tell me. Should we get started?" he said warmly.
They sat down together on the large couch that was in the office, still hand in hand.
Brittany started out.
"Well... It started out when I went to school, and Chance and I had a fight I guess... We were upset. We had started talking it over and we missed the bus." she said. The mayor looked intrigued already.
"Why were you two upset with each other, if I may ask?" he said. Chance answered this time.
"Well, she liked me and I had just gotten a girlfriend. I didn't want to see her hurt, so I told her we shouldn't be friends. We got it worked out, as you can tell." he said looking at Brittany.
He squeezed her hand tighter. The mayor looked fascinated. Brittany continued.
"So, we sat in the school, and kept talking. He ended up breaking up with his now ex, girlfriend, and we... started dating. Then my mom came and tried to pull us away, but I refused to go. She left me there with nobody but Chance, and I had nowhere to go. Chance's family took me in." she said trying to hold back the urge to smile, because she knew it would hurt if she gave in.
"That's so bold! Not wanting to leave him even for your mother! Amazing! Just amazing...Please continue." he said.
"So, I stayed there and we went to school the next day and my mother came to get me in the middle of the hall. I told her I couldn't leave. She was going to make me move with her to some random place. She smacked, and beat me right there in front of everybody. They tore her away from me, but she got the last blow in before she left. It knocked me out, and I was covered in blood. Chance tried to tear her away, but the police tore her away first. They rushed me to the hospital after that. I don't remember a whole lot of it, but I know that it was traumatic. I'm lucky to have these people in my lives at this point, cause without them, I might not be here today." she said, tears coming to her eyes.
The mayor was in shock.
"She beat you in the halls? Where is she at this point?" he said.
They all answered in ironic unison, "I don't know." He looked bewildered. He picked up his phone on the desk and dialed some number.
"Lisa, I need to know where Michelle is.... Yes, that Michelle.... Okay, thank you Lisa.", he said into the receiver.
"She 's in prison, for child abuse, and not to mention entering a school without given permission by staff. You're all safe now.", he told them. They all called a group hug. Chance held Brittany tighter than usual, as if to shield her from a storm.
The mayor smiled.
"Now, I have something for you all." he said walking over to a closet. He pulled out a black case and opened it to reveal four, glittering, gold medals. He opened it and asked the all to stand, and the doors opened. The crowd that had been outside, poured into the room, and stood there in awe. He smiled.
"Brittany, Chance, Gabe, and Madison, you all have done extrordinary thing these past few days. Brittany, I am proud and honored to present this medal to you, for your extreme bravery, and courage in this terrible situation of abuse. I apologize to you on behalf of the whole town, that we did not know of your bravery, and that we did nothing to help you until it became too extreme. So, also on behalf of this town, I present to you this medal, for your bravery, courage, and nobelness to this town." he said and placed the medal around her neck, gently.
"Chance, you have also shown extreme bravery in this situation. Though, you did not know that Brittany was being abused, you helped her a great deal, when you found out. You have shown her that it possible to escape the horror, and you sheltered her when the abuse came into the public. So, I present to you this medal, in great respect.", he slipped the medal onto Chance's neck.
"Madison, I am extremely proud of you. You helped Brittany out through this all. You helped her while she was being abused. You inspired her to stand up for herself after years of abuse. You showed her that escape was possible.I hope you can be the best friend I know you are, and be here for her while she tries to get over this. I am honored to give you this medal, Madison." he said, and slipped it on her neck.
"Gabe, there isn't much that I know about you, but you have done just as much for Brittany as the rest of you all. Just being her friend and being by her side was enough to deserve this medal. But, you did much more than that. You stood there by her side the whole time and your actions to stand up for her inspires us all. I hope you continue to help her through this, because we know that it will always be in her head. I present this to you in gratitude and honor Gabe. Thank you." he said slippng the last medal on Gabe's neck.
They all group hugged for the cameras, and they all smiled. Brittany wanted to cry, not just because smiling hurts, but it was so beautiful that they all were here together. Chance wrapped his arms around her and she smiled that pain away for him. They all walked through the crowd together and the all were laughing and holding hands. Brittany smiled and they all were happy to see her wash that pain away. They got outside to see a huge crowd cheering for them. Chance couldn't help it anymore. He wrapped his arms around Brittany and pressed his lips against hers, in front of everyone. He didn't care. He couldn't stand it anymore, he had to kiss her, she needed it now.
Everyone cheered for them. He finally drew back, and he grinned at her. She smiled, and she pulled him back in. Everyone cheered louder. Gabe saw this and kissed Madison. The whole crowd was screaming. They finally all drew back and raced to the pond. Nobody followed, but the crowd waved to them. They all sat down under the willow tree by the calm waters. They all held hands, and they stared at the sky above.
The stars were glittering, and the moon in a perfect crescent above. There were clouds rolling in. The first snowflake came drifting down, and they all smiled. The first snow of the season, and they were right under it, together. And Christmas was in less than a week. This was perfect.