3: I’ve Been Waiting For You
“And finally, it seems my lonely days are through”
The walk to Anthony’s house wasn’t bad. For Anthony. For the rest, it was long. Kevin was heavy for them all, even though he had a slim figure. Anthony was walking Kevin’s bike, glancing at the people behind them now and then. “Turn left. Left.”, he says guiding them.
Anthony was having the time of his life. The others were annoyed and tired by his “directions.” Anthony knew they all remembered where his house was. But it didn’t matter to Anthony at that moment. He just wanted to have fun. Finally, they arrived at the two-story house.
The house was painted a slight blue that is almost matched the scenery. He grabbed the keys from under the mat, opening the door and leading the gang upstairs to his room. Sure, it was a struggle, but they had to watch out in case Anthony’s mom came home. Luckily, Anthony’s mom often stayed late, and his dad was never home. He spent most of his time “working” but Anthony knew better.
His dad was always in Chicago. He practically lived there. He would come home but it was once in a blue moon. He thinks his mom knows too what is going on, but she doesn’t want to confront her husband.
To Anthony, this was none of his business. He knew he had nothing to do with their problems, so he often stayed away from them. He didn’t care for his dad as much as he cared for his mom. This love he had for his mom was the same love he had for the Witches. Dedication, affection, trust, appreciation, and worship.
To his dad, he didn’t have feelings. His dad became a stranger to him over the past years. Anthony doesn’t even remember the good times. Helping the boy who bled from his scalp was never his intention, nonetheless, he knew Lincoln and Nathan would want to help in some way because of their pure hearts. Thus, he agreed to let them bring the boy to his house so Anthony could examine him.
As the kids walked into the room carrying the heavy boy, exhausted after having to climb the stairs, Anthony told them to lay his down on the bed. They try not to hurt him nor drop them as their strength drops. The kids, struggling and out of breath, manage to use their leftover energy to plop him onto the bed. Unfortionally, Kevin ends up landing on his right arm, causing him to stir a little. They are freeze when he starts to suddenly move, only looking at him with wide eyes.
Lucky for them, he falls back to sleep again, and the members can release a breath of relief. They carefully adjust him to where he’s lying down on his back. This will make it easier for Anthony to examine him. Once they settled Kevin on Anthony’s bed, Nathan presses his ear against Kevin’s chest. It’s a faint sound but he can hear the slow thumps of his heart.
He can also feel his chest rising and falling. “The kid is asleep.” He looks at the ones with worried expressions on their faces. “He’s fine.”
They let out a breath of relief. Chris seems to be the only one unbothered by this situation. Mike as well although, he’s physically not showing it through his body, his eyes say otherwise. “Pepper, go get a wet cloth.”, Chris looked at her.
She nods, exiting the room. Anthony takes off his backpack, pulling out his medical kit from it. The kit contains bandages, pain killers, band-aids of different sizes, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a medium-sized plastic bag of cotton balls and swabs. “When do you think he will wake up?”, Mike suddenly asks.
Lincoln shook his head. “Not sure. How is he doing, Anthony?”
Anthony walks over to the right side of the bed, examining the cut on Kevin’s scalp. He lightly touches it, making sure not to wake him up. The wet blood sticks to his finger. “I can’t tell if it’s still bleeding.”, he explains.
Pepper enters the room with the wet cloth in her hands. “Here.”, she hands the dripping cloth to Anthony.
Again, he gently taps on Kevin’s cut, the cloth drenching in the blood, turning the white material into a shade of maroon. “Are you guys hungry? I think I have some leftovers from last night in the fridge.”, he says, still cleaning the blood off Kevin’s head.
The kids nod. Anthony gestures his hand that they can leave while he took care of the injured boy. Some of the cold water dripped off the cloth onto Kevin’s forehead without Anthony noticing. The cold water of the cloth causes Kevin to soon wake up. As he does, Anthony freezes, removing the cloth from his head. “G-Guys? Come back.”, Anthony stutters.
Luckily, they haven’t completely exited, and they were able to hear him. “What do we do? Do we hide?”, Pepper whispers, a hit of panic in her voice.
“No, let him see us. He won’t be afraid if we show ourselves.”, Riley silently answers.
Kevin opens his eyes a bit. The light of the sun coming through the window blinds him, forcing him to shut his eyes again. He was only able to see blurry glimpses of the kids surrounding him. When he rubs his eyes and opens them again, he can see them.
“Who... who are you? Where am I?”, he looks around, looking unaware and a bit scared.
“Don’t worry, we’re not going to hurt you.”, Anthony tells him with a friendly smile.
Kevin forces himself to get out of the bed but that causes a sting to his head, therefore he is not able to fully get out of bed. Anthony pushes Kevin’s body down so his back meets the mattress.
“It’s better if you lie down for now.”, Anthony states gently.
“What happened?”, Kevin asks Anthony. Anthony starts to clean Kevin’s wound again as he talks to him.
“We think you fell off your bike. That guy...”, he points to Lincoln. “and that guy...”, he points to Nathan. They both wave awkwardly with uncomfortable smiles on their faces. “found you on the street. You were lucky. They saved your life.”
“Oh. W-Where am I?”, Kevin asks.
“You’re at my house.” The other kids don’t bother to leave the room, even though they were awkward only standing there.
Anthony looks at Chris and points to the bottle of alcohol and the cotton balls. “Anthony. My name is Anthony, by the way.”, he speaks as Chris hands him the bottle. As he takes the bottle, Anthony sees Kevin eyeing Chris and the rest of the kids in the room.
“They’re my closest friends.” He adds some alcohol into a cotton ball. “That’s Chris, Pepper, Riley, the gentlemen that saved you are Lincoln and Nathan, Mike and Johnny.”, Anthony points to them as he introduced each of the members. He continued, “I am blessed to have them as my friends.”
Riley looks over to Chris. It seems that he wants to say something or has been wanting to speak but he’s keeping himself back.
“This will sting a little.”, Anthony warns Kevin. Kevin nods, letting him. Anthony gently cleans the wound. It stung a bit, but it was the same sting as getting a shot. While he’s cleaning, Pepper leaves a small band-aid for him to reach for once he’s finished. After cleaning, Anthony places the band-aid on the cut on Kevin’s scalp.
“There, you are free to go.”, Anthony helps him stand up.
With Kevin’s arm around Anthony’s neck, he helps him walk him outside the bedroom to the hall. “Wait here.”, he tells him.
He enters his room, closing it behind him. “So, what now?”, Johnny broke the silence.
“I don’t think he’s in good condition to ride his bike home. One of us will have to help him.”, Anthony blurts out.
“What?!”, everyone shouts in sync.
“You mean one of us will have to take him into the outer world we said we would never enter?”, Mike responds quieter. Anthony nods.
“Is there any other thing we can do?”, Chris asks.
“You tell me, Chris.”
After a pause and glances thrown to each other, Chris speaks up. “Fine. I’ll do it. As your leader, it is my job to keep you safe.”
Chris walks out of the bedroom door. Kevin sits on the floor, leaning against the wall, playing with his fingers. When the door opened, he looked up. Chris sighs before bending down next to Kevin. Chris grabs Kevin’s arm and wraps it around his neck.
Chris and Kevin’s strengths were combined to stand them up. “Riley, come with me. You’re taking his bike.”, he says as he helps Kevin down the stairs.
Kevin looks at him. “My bike? You brought my bike?”, Kevin asks. Chris briefly looks at him then rolls his eyes, continuing to help him down the stairs.
Riley nods behind him. She turns to walk over to Anthony. She gestures to wrap something around his head. Anthony nods and leaves to his room and comes back with a thick bandage. She thanks him and walks over to Chris before he could open the door.
She taps him on the shoulder, causing him to look at her. Riley points to the bandage in her hand and he imminently understands what she is trying to tell him. “Look, to take back home, we have to blindfold you.”
“What?”, he looks up.
“Just until we get to downtown. We can’t let you know where we are. Please don’t ask questions.”, Riley starts to explain.
“Why?”. his instinct asked.
“I said no questions. May I, please?”, she asks.
Kevin wasn’t going to lie. Riley was fairly pretty, and these people seemed caring and friendly. On top of that, they saved his life today. So, he lets them. It was weird but he trusted them.
She tied it to where it was tight enough so he couldn’t see but not so tight that it could hurt him. Then they set off. The walk to downtown wasn’t far but it was exhausting for Chris for he was practically carrying Kevin. The whole time, Kevin asked questions, but he received silence from Chris and Riley. They were simple questions like “How long have you known each other? Where do you go to school?”
Kevin stopped asking once he realized that no matter how hard he tried, no one will ever respond to him. Sunset was a beautiful sight for Riley and Chris. That was around the time they finally reached downtown and were able to take the blindfold off Kevin’s eyes.
“Here’s your bike.”, Riley says as she hands it over.
“Be careful when you walk home. Don’t ride your bike, only walk it, alright?”, Kevin smiles at her and nods.
With a grin on his face, he nods to the pair goodbye then turns around to leave. Chris and Riley turn the opposite direction and walk that way.
“We saved someone, and he didn’t even thank us.”, Riley suddenly announces. He pulls her closer, wrapping his arm around her.
“Remember Riley, that’s how people are here in Lylac.”, he tells her.
That night, the Witches had a meeting in their clubhouse in the wood. As the rest of the kids sit on the couches in the living room of the house, Chris paces around the room. The rest of the kids watch him, waiting for him to deliver what he is thinking about. Finally, he does. “Should we have saved him?”, Chris asked.
Riley looked at him with an incredulous expression on her face. “Are you questioning if we should have saved a life?”, she questioned. He nods at her. This causes something in Riley to rupture. “Chris, he could have died.“, she snaps at him.
“I know that.”, Chris quickly responds. “It’s just...”, Riley keeps her mouth shut, raising her eyebrows as she waits for his comeback. “what if he tells his parents or someone?”
“At least he’s alive...”, Lincoln quietly says, trailing off. He pouts his lips a bit. Chris wasn’t close enough to hear him. Nobody heard him. Lincoln didn’t bother to say it louder. He simply decided to let Chris continue lecturing them.
“Can we trust him?”, Chris asks. Everyone keeps their silence. “How do we know that just by him telling someone that 8 teenagers saved his life won’t be a risk to us?”, he points out.
With a frown, Riley peers at him. “That’s all you’re thinking about? Whether he is a risk to us?”, she pauses in between each sentence.
Yes, the kid they met today could cause them peril and that was known among them all. Nevertheless, Riley was only thankful he was okay. That because of them, he was still breathing. Chris didn’t think the way she did. On the controversy, his mind worked the opposite. “It’s my job to do that, Riley. As your leader, it is my job to protect you.”
Chris and the rest knew where he stood for them. He was the head of their club. Their savior. Their guardian. The one looked to during problems.
He cared for each member. Kept them safe from the world they were stuck in. After their first leader left, the members looked up to Chris more and the one thing Chris wants is to not let them down. Individually, the members are strong in their way. They’ve fought through their brick walls with their power.
People underestimated the strength of this group. To the members themselves, Chris was dominant. He is the strongest. He went through the most trauma. That is why his symbol is a bear.
Bears represent strength, leadership, confidence, healing to help others, and solitude. The Witches are powerful ones that are shoved down by a force so mighty, they can’t separate from it. It pulls them together and crushes them together, mentally. A force so almighty, that together they can’t break free from. A kid like Kevin could be a danger not just for the Witches, but for Kevin himself.
That was a reason they stayed away from everyone. They didn’t want anyone to harm them and they didn’t want to harm anyone. And the town hated them for that. “Well, it was all Anthony’s fault.”, Pepper speaks out. Anthony instantly turns to look at her.
“How is it my fault?”, Anthony asked, slightly offended.
“You told him who we were.”, Pepper acknowledges.
“I was trying to comfort him.”, Anthony defends.
“Well, look at what you did now.”, Pepper retorts.
Before the two start bickering, Mike stops them. “Enough, you two.”, he says, irritated. Silence takes over them all, not knowing what to say anymore. The kids sitting on the couch waits until someone speaks. They look down and play with their fingers or look around the room. Anywhere but the gaze Chris gives them as he waits for one of them to talk.
“Are we to search for him?”, Pepper finally develops the guts to converse and look at him. “Beg him not to say anything about meeting us?”
“If we do that, we have to befriend the ungrateful prick.”, Johnny adds to the conversation.
“That’s true. He didn’t thank us.”, she returns, agreeing to his words. Finally, the dialogue began again.
“What else did you expect? He’s one of them, isn’t he? Of course, he would be selfish, spineless, and lonely. Maybe if we treat him with kindness, he would like to repay us.”, Anthony said
“Kindness, my ass. For that to happen, we would need to save someone or something he treasures.”, Johnny points out. Everyone started to add their thoughts to the discussion.
“Do we have to kill the kid?”, the thought came to Nathan’s mind, so he said it out loud. Everyone stopped talking when they all heard Nathan’s statement. Chris instantly turns his head to glance at him.
“Nathan, assassination is not allowed unless it’s an attacker. Understood?”, Chris scolds him. Nathan nods his head, comprehending what he said.
“So then, what now?”, Nathan asks after pausing. “Do we look for him? How are we going to find him?”, he kept questioning. Some members think about his question while others have a quiet discussion among the person next to them. That is when it clicked Lincoln’s head. He looks up at Chris. Chris is waiting for an answer, so as he was looking around the room, he spots Lincoln waving his hand to get his attention. When Lincoln does capture Chris’s attention, he gestures him to come. Chris does. Lincoln gestures him to lean down to whisper something into his ear,
“We’ll find him at the front of the train.”
The next day, everyone walked past the school. It was the school that Johnny and Anthony attended. It was Saturday to Anthony didn’t think he would be near these grounds today. “Why are we here? We’re on vacation.”, he started whining like a little kid. Lincoln rolled his eyes at him, ignoring his complaints.
“You’re ditching. That’s what you’re doing.”, Mike comebacks. Anthony looked at him offensively before Lincoln started to talk.
“Once when I was looking into the math class, someone saw me.”, Lincoln explained. “A kid that resembled the boy from yesterday spotted me. I believe it was him.”, he concluded. Everyone nodded. They mentally analyzed the words he said. Luckily, they were here on Saturday so no one would be on campus, for the school gate to enter was locked. Chris spotted something or someone that interrupted his thoughts.
Suddenly, he spotted a boy slightly older, maybe around 17, looking that them across the empty road. He pulled out a pocket-size knife from his pocket and showed it to Chris. Chris was familiar with this boy. He was the son of the police chief of the town. His dad was the hero of the town in the citizen’s eyes. The boy was destined to be the next hero. He had met the Witches before to hurt them, for he knew their reputation.
He wanted to get rid of these underdogs. He wanted his reputation to be a hero whose story will pass down from generation. The Witches knew how to deal with him. However, this was the first time the guy had a weapon with him. The senior started to get closer to the school grounds as he crossed the street to approach them.
This caused Chris to have a slight panic attack, that he started to yell. “Run.”, he spoke. Everyone’s thoughts were interrupted as well so they all turned to confusingly look at Chris. “Run!”, he yelled.
Everyone looked in the direction that he was looking at, only to spot the tormentor. Once they saw him, everyone started to run towards the forest not far from the school. The attacker ran after them. Unfortunately, Nathan’s stamina didn’t keep up with the rest of his friends that he started to slow down. He grabs Nathan, pressing the sharp knife to his throat, taunting him so he wouldn’t try to escape.
“Chris! Chris!”, Nathan screams for mercy. As he yells, the bully forces the knife closer to him, shutting him up. The blade doesn’t cut him yet if he moves the slightest, it could cut him. All the Witches stop running once they hear his voice. Chris turned around, running back to save his friend.
The closer he arrives, the more he could see Nathan’s eyes, telling him to stop and stay away. The rest of the kids run after Chris. They try to get closer than Chris was, but he stopped them, reaching out a hand. They listened, even though they were afraid about what would happen to their friend. Nevertheless, they knew better to listen to their leader when it comes to these kinds of things.
“Let him go.”, he says naturally but you could hear the panic in his voice. The tormentor hears it too, making him smirk. He looks down at the boy he is holding. He is still, not daring to move. Tears fall from his eyes as he keeps a stiff face.
“I’ll let him go if you do something for me.”, the tormentor spoke.
“What do you want this time, Skipper?”, Chris asked. Everyone else was also listening to their dialogue as well as glancing at Nathan occasionally. The tormentor, now known as Skipper, brought the blade even closer to Nathan’s throat. Nathan’s jaw tensed and closed his eyes. He felt a bit of the cold steel when he gulped. He stood frozen again.
“All I want is to kill you. Each of you. Starting with this one.”
“Chris, seriously I’m okay. Don’t listen to him.”, Nathan calls out to Chris. That only makes him more worried. Just when Nathan spoke, Skipper’s blade cut his neck a bit. Nathan hissed in pain. Chris’s attitude suddenly changes from anxiety for his friend to rage towards the torturer.
Behind Chris, Johnny is scouting in Anthony’s medical backpack. Anthony thought it was a stupid idea when Johnny asked but he let him. They were all desperate for something to save their friend. Johnny grabbed a pill bottle from the bag. The plastic bottle was the only thing in there that was guaranteed to hurt when it’s thrown.
With maximum force, strength, and aim, Johnny throws the bottle to Skipper. It strikes Skipper’s right shin. This causes Skipper to lose balance on that leg, creating an opportunity for Nathan to escape. Nathan pushes the guy to the ground while grabbing the knife that he loosely held in his hand. Because of the fast activity and how little space on the handle there was, Nathan ended up cutting himself just below his jaw and on his palm.
The cuts weren’t serious, but they were painful, causing Nathan to yell in distress. Once he was free, Nathan ran to Chris, handing him the now closed knife before running to Riley, the comforter of the group.
“Now, you’re dead.”, Skipper threatened, slowly standing up. He reached down to the ground to grab the knife he thought was there. However, when he looked up, Chris had the knife in his hand. Chris follows Skipper’s gaze to his hand hold the closed pocketknife. He forms a sinister smirk on his lips, chuckling softly as he opens the knife. Chris pointed the knife to Skipper.
“Don’t you get it yet? You’re never going to win.”, he snickers, still pointing the blade at him.
Skipper is afraid that he might hurt him, but he doesn’t show it externally. Chris sees his fear too, but he doesn’t show sympathy. His eyes become emotionless, and the smile disappears, making Skipper feel even more uneasy. “If you take one more step towards us, I won’t hesitate to cut you more than you cut my friend.”
Chris started to walk to Skipper, closing the knife with every step he took. When he got closed enough, Chris pressed the closed knife to his stomach, his thumb if the flipper. Skipper froze in place. “Take a few steps back and run away.”, Chris coldly whispered.
In his background, Nathan hugged Riley tightly, softly crying into her neck. She let him, rubbing his back benevolently. Everyone else is gathering around them, examining Nathan’s state. Anthony is already pulling out his supplies. Skipper does as he is told, running away, turning at a nearby alleyway.
Once Chris makes sure he is gone, he lets out a huge breath that he’s been holding in. He drops the knife then collapses to the ground, panting. Mike notices and he left the huddle around Nathan to help Chris. “Chris! Are you okay?”, he asked, helping him get up.
Chris nods. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Chris and Mike walk back to the group. Nathan already has bandages on his wounds and is no longer hugging Riley, nor crowed by the other members. Anthony is putting away his supplies in the large main portion of his backpack and putting the wet and bloody cotton balls in the front. Pepper walks up to him with the pill bottle in her hand. Riley notices Chris looking at the knife in his hands, opening and closing it.
“Is that his knife?”, she asks. Chris and Nathan nod their heads.
“I took it from him and gave it to Chris after Johnny knocked him down.”, Nathan explains. Everyone nods. Silence takes over them before Anthony breaks it.
“Nathan, you okay?”, he asked, gently holding his chin in his hand to move his head. Nathan grabs Anthony’s hand to take off his chin.
“Yes, I’m fine. These are just scratches.”, he points at the bandage on his jaw. “They’ll fade away eventually.”, he smiles. Anthony returns the smile, nodding before leaving him alone. Everyone smiles as well. After a moment, Riley manages to peak at Chris’s watch. The time is close to 5:30.
“I have to go now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”, she says. Once those words come out of her mouth, she suddenly regrets them, not wanting to go home. She starts to become anxious as she walks away.
“Riley!”, Chris called out. Riley turns around when she heard his voice. “Be careful!” She nods, grinning, and giving him a thumbs-up before she walks to the bus stop.
Kevin is walking down the street with a bag of groceries in his hand. When he walks in front of a bus stop, the bus halts, dropping off and picking up passengers. When Kevin looks up to look at the people on the bus, a habit he’s had since he was little, he saw Riley. She was sitting inside the bus looking out the window, her palm to her cheek. Kevin sees her and thinks she looks familiar.
Thus, he gets on. He looks for her, trying to distinguish her by attempting to find the back of her head, which he discovers is difficult to do. When he finds her, he sits on the empty seat right next to her. Riley is gazing down, fiddling with her fingers. She doesn’t flinch nor acknowledges when Kevin sits next to her. He decides to make his presence known to her.
“Hi.”, he says, with a smile on his face.
Riley picks up her head to look at him briefly before going back to fiddle with her fingers. “Hi.”, she quietly returns the greeting.
An awkward silence takes over them. Well, it seemed like Kevin was the only one who sensed it. Riley was busy disregarding him to recognize the awkward silence. Not being a fan of the quietness, he thought about sparking up a conversation with her, regretting the fact that he only got in the now moving bus just because he saw her, and she looked familiar to him. The simplest question that entered his mind exited his lips. “Why do you look familiar?”, he asked. However, it worked to start a chat.
“I think you may know.”, she remarks, now starting to look outside the window.
“Right, you and your gang saved me the other day.”, he remembers, his eyes not leaving her figure. His response causes her to turn around, surprising him, making his smile disappear. Somehow, with the stare she gave him, disappointment and disapprove, he got nervous.
“We’re not a gang. We’re a club.”, she rewords, still staring at Kevin. “If you say it like that, you make us sound like we’re criminals.”, she sighs, going back to look at the view outside the bus.
“Right. I haven’t introduced myself.”, he taps on her shoulder for her to turn around to face him. Then, he puts out his hand for her to shake. “I’m Kevin. Kevin Grant. And you are?”
Riley looks at his hand before looking up to meet his gaze. “Don’t you already know who I am?”, she claims. He’s taken a bit aback by her sudden question. He nods.
“I do but I can’t seem to remember your name.”, he truthfully said, looking away from her, and putting his hand down. Riley could see the sincerity in his eyes.
“I’m Riley. Riley Hood.”, she says. Kevin smiles a little when she answers. He puts out his hand again for her to shake and patiently waits. Riley stares at his hand then at him then at his hand again. After a while of her not doing anything, Kevin puts his hand down, frowning. Silence takes over them once more. It was broken by the bus stopping and the voice of the bus driver.
“Post Office Bridge.”, the driver loudly announces.
Riley gets up from her seat, passing Kevin to exit the bus. When she is off, Kevin decides to follow her. He quietly walks behind her, making sure not to get caught. He doesn’t know why he was doing this. A part of him probably wanted to be friends with her and her friends.
Yes, Tyler was his best friend, but Tyler wasn’t enough for Kevin, to be honest. Yes, he was a good friend, but Kevin wanted more. As Riley walked, she was feeling uneasy. As she looked down, she noticed the shadow of the person behind her.
“Are you following me?”, she suddenly stops walking. Kevin freezes, his eyes widening. Somehow, he thought that if he kept quiet and not move, Riley wouldn’t notice him. But he was wrong, Riley had caught him. She turns around to see him. “It’s rude to stalk someone, you know?”
Kevin chuckles, shaking his head no. “I’m not stalking you.”
“Then what are you doing?”, she asks, not taking his eyes off him as he looked down.
“Nothing.”, he replies softly. Maybe he’s embarrassed, Riley thought.
“Do you want something from us?”, Riley asked. That question made Kevin’s head shoot up to look at her. She could see that his eyes looked exposed.