-Chapter 16: A New Ally-

"What are you looking for?" Ralph asked Bryce who was taking his hour on the computer to prepare for the trial that was to come in a week at Network 66.

After all that Cheviot had done to try to get a trial for Bryce on friendly grounds, the group which oversaw the network courts had decided that they would not allow Network 23 to try Bryce because of his (and Parker's) past affiliation with them. At least he would be allowed to return to Network 23 if he were exonerated.

"I'm trying to find the judge who tried Parker for what he did to me eight years ago," Bryce explained. "I need a transcript of that case so that I can use various points in it to speak against his character."

"Why don't you just as Alison? She was a victim of his, too."

"Alison and I don't really get along," Bryce pointed out.

"I've been watching you," Ralph pointed out. "You really should be more understanding with her. She was victimized by him, too."

Bryce rolled his eyes as the girl in question joined them. "Look, I know you're not fond of me. I think that's completely unfair of you. I've done nothing to hurt you."

"Or help me," Bryce replied.

"I tried to get him put away nine years ago," Alison said, tears forming in her eyes. "I told my stupid parents over and over what he was doing to me. 'Oh, you must be imagining it,'." She quoted sarcastically, "'your uncle would never do that', 'we think you need to see a doctor for your delusions,' ... A year that crap went on. A whole goddamned year!"

"Jar," a nearby staff member called.

"Fuck you." Alison called back, returning her attention to Bryce she explained. "It wasn't until he was found guilty of raping someone that I finally got my peace and a well-deserved apology. But when they let him out, my bitch mother let him move into our house. 'he's done his time, we should forgive him'... that's how stupid she is."

"Why didn't you tell a metro? Or a teacher?"

"I did," Alison said. "But the bitch had me seeing a shrink. Every time I told anyone she would tell them about my visits and that I was having paranoid delusions that I was taking pills for, which she would wave around as proof. After a while, nobody believed me or even listened to me."

"You must've felt very alone," Bryce realized.

"I did," Alison agreed. "I want to thank you, by the way. It was your bravery in facing my uncle in court those eight years ago that gave me those eight years of peace."

"I've given you a lot more than eight," Bryce muttered.

"What?" Alison asked cautiously.

"When I tell you the full reason I'm in here, you'll look at me as either a hero or a villain," Bryce admitted.

"You didn't kill him?" Alison's eyes widened.

Bryce nodded, logging off his computer session. "He attacked me again when he got out of jail. I got a bit carried away while I was defending myself."

"The reason I won't forgive you is that I don't think you did anything you need to ask forgiveness for," Alison said, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "If you want me to go to your trial and tell everyone what a complete bastard he was, I will. It's the least I can do to say 'thank you'."

"Bryce," Mr. Lawrence said from the doorway.

Bryce looked up to see Edison and Theora standing there with Mr. Lawrence.

"Murray will be here in half an hour," Theora explained. "He had a meeting." She looked over at Alison. "Friend?"

"Perhaps," Bryce considered, looking back over at Alison. "If not, at least she's an ally. She's agreed to speak at the trial. She was hurt by Parker, too. Poor girl got stuck with him as an uncle."

Something in Bryce's gaze struck Edison. He gave a chuckle. "You like her."

"What?" Bryce said. "Don't be silly. I've only known her a few days. Not to mention it's a bit awkward to ask a girl out when the only thing we have in common is that her uncle abused us both."

"Are you sure that's the only thing?" Edison asked.

"Look, it's not going to happen," Bryce said, firmly. "Even if I do feel something for her... I mean even if I did feel something for her, it wouldn't work. I'd be there wondering if she felt pain or guilt about her what her uncle did. Even though we all know it's not her fault."

Alison walked over to Bryce and kissed him, unexpectedly causing Edison to chuckled a little.

"That's for being the first person to understand that," she told him as she went back over to the table and began playing a game of cards with Riku.

"Okay," Bryce said unsure what to make of what had just happened.

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