36. Tearing Through Scars
I drive for the house in search of him. I have to find him. I have to talk to him. I’ve picked up on the cues, the subtle hints floating around me almost begging to be grabbed, begging to be known. It’s all become so clear to me.
I know Patrick will be at his parent’s house for a while. There’s no way he’ll be leaving there anytime soon after that. He’s not the type to chase me, nor will his parents allow that. I know it, which is why I ran.
I need to talk to Hawke.
I know the truth in my heart.
I burst through the door, my eyes scanning the kitchen, then the living room, to find both empty and void of him. My stomach gets a sickening feeling that maybe me leaving for the brunch with Patrick was too much for him to bear. What if he needed to find a way to feel numb again? I check his room and find that empty too. I begin to lose all hope until my senses come into play and I hear the running water in the bathroom.
I run for it, opening the door to the dimly lit space, seeing his outline in the shower behind the semi-fogged glass. He’s in the shower, wearing his clothes beneath the water, as if he stepped into there not even thinking.
His forearms are against the wall, holding his head in his hands as the water pours down the back of his neck. I don’t even need to ask. I know what he’s doing.
He’s drowning out the pain of not knowing what’s happening, what I’m doing, or how it’s all unfolding. More than likely assuming the worst. It’s not as if his life has given him much opportunity to see things with a glass half full.
He’s awaiting heartbreak, like an injured animal awaits death. The thought, inevitable to him. He’s letting the rain of the showerhead beat down on the back of his skull, drowning out the endless thoughts that plague his tortured mind.
I step into the shower alongside him, letting my hair and dress get drenched with the residual water pouring off of his tall frame. The water is cold, almost as cold as the intentions of those who left him to ruin in his own dismay.
His head turns towards me as he sucks in a breath at the sight of me.
“Cole? What are you—?” He straightens, running a hand through his hair.
He takes a step towards me as I take one towards him. My face is pained as I study his eyes, going over the words Sean said at the table and getting an overwhelming feeling of protectiveness and possessiveness over him.
“What happened? Are you alright?” He licks his lips, looking at me with his brows furrowed and his mouth dropping open.
I just stare at him. The pain in my heart, overwhelming. Everything I’ve ever said to him, how I treated him when he first came here, all of it coming full circle. Of course he thought I was like Patrick and them, because I was. I was a judgmental, stuck up, bitch who treated him like shit without even trying to get to know the man beneath the tattoos and the bad boy appearance. The gentle, loving man beneath the surface.
“It’s over isn’t it,” he says softly, his eyes emanating pure sadness and defeat. “You’re staying with him. You’ve chosen him.”
My mouth drops open at his statement. I’m in shock just hearing him assume that after everything we’ve been through.
“Fuck, I knew it. I fucking knew it.” He runs his hands through his hair, bending over at the waist, grabbing the wall for support as breathing becomes difficult for him. “Shit, it hurts. It hurts so bad.”
I shake my head, grabbing for his wrist pulling it to me.
“I can’t lose you, I can’t. Cole, you’re everything to me now.” His chest is heaving, his breaths becoming short.
“No, Cam. No. That’s not it at all,” I say, squinting, as the water droplets hit my face. “I left.”
His eyes turn hopeful as he stands back up again. “You left,” he repeats the words, looking at my hand on his wrist in disbelief.
It’s then that he notices the marks. He pulls my wrist up to his face to inspect it.
“What the fuck is this?” His deep voice turns into a growl.
“He hurt you!? He fucking touched you!?”
“Cameron stop, please! Just listen for a second,” I interrupt what surely will turn into a beat down with a breathy, pleading tone. “I know.”
His face contorts as the water continues to drip off his perfectly round lips. “You know? You know what?”
I shake my head, wincing my eyes, not wanting it to come to this. I know the wound I’m ripping open, I know the scar I’m cutting back into, the flesh of the past never fully healed.
“You didn’t kill Ben.”
He immediately stiffens at the name. His face becoming stone-like at the drop of it.
“It wasn’t you, was it? You weren’t the one driving, were you?” I ask, moving towards him, my hands reaching for his chest, the wet t-shirt clinging to him.
He starts slowly shaking his head back and forth, pulling away from me slightly to gauge the look in my eyes.
“Don’t fuck with me, Cole. Don’t you do this to me,” he warns with affliction in his tone.
He’s barricaded behind his wall. The one built over years of trauma, years of being on his own. Finally there comes someone willing to peek through his holes, offering him a comforting hand to hold, one he’s not quite ready to accept. He’s like a wild animal, non-trusting of humans after a lifetime of knowing human nature. I can’t even blame him.
I offer my hands to him, holding them out as I lick my lips, the tears that have formed in my eyes blending into the water pouring down my face.
“It wasn’t you,” I whisper, knowing.
“Please, don’t,” his voice cracks as he remains frozen in place, gazing at my open hands, afraid.
“You didn’t kill him,” I repeat, needing him to hear me say it. Knowing that if I do, maybe he’ll begin to finally believe it too. “I know you didn’t.”
I place my hands on his face and he winces at the contact. He’s backed into a corner, finally facing this.
I run my fingers through his hair, pushing it off his forehead before trailing them down his cheekbones, lining his jaw. I hold his face in my hands, staring up at him as he gazes back into me, unsure. “It wasn’t your fault, Cameron.”
“It was my fault,” he reiterates, trying to convince me, but I know better.
“You were there, and maybe you convinced yourself you could’ve changed something, that your mistakes in life caused this, but you didn’t drive that car. You didn’t kill him. They did.” I’m crying as I speak the words, waiting for him to respond, waiting for him to accept what I know now to be the truth.
He's tied into this, paid the price, for something someone else did. I see it all now with the way their lives are intertwined, I saw it in the way the subtly glances between Patrick and his father at the table spoke volumes.
His arm begins shaking by his side, then his whole body begins shaking. His eyes close tightly as he drops his head down.
It’s then that he falls apart.
He falls to the bottom of the shower, raking his hands down his face as he sobs. He lets it all out. Years of emotional trauma, trapped beneath his tough facade. He’s finally breaking free and releasing everything that’s been needing to come out.
I fall around him, wrapping myself around his trembling shoulders, holding him together, whispering softly how it will all be okay, telling him I’m here for him.
We sit like that for what feels like forever. The silence between us speaking volumes. He clutches to me, his fingers gripping into the skin of my shoulders as if his one chance at the life he wanted is sitting here at the bottom of this shower with him, about to dissipate into thin air like the future he’d once hoped for. His tears fall, the pain of that event leaving him with each and every drop that runs free.
I pull back slightly, turning the water off of us, and brushing the inky, wet strands of hair out of his eyes. I cup his face in my hands, gazing at him, needing his eyes to find mine for some comfort, wanting him to see the truth in my eyes.
“I didn’t kill him!” he finally cries out. “I didn’t fucking do it!”
He throws the back of his fist against the wall of the shower, grunting in anger and frustration. He pulls at the roots of his hair, screaming, the agony in his voice breaking my heart.
“I didn’t kill him, Cole!”
“I know, Cam. I know.” I nod, bawling as I listen to him finally admit this truth.
“He was my best friend.” He falls apart again at the memory, his reddened eyes holding his endless torment. “I held him in my arms as he bled out around me. He took his last breath, looking me in my eyes. I see it, that image, every night.”
“I’m sorry,” I cry out, pulling him into me as I wrap my hands around his head, holding his cheek to my chest, needing him near my heart. “I’m so sorry.”
There’s nothing I can say to take his pain away. I can only listen and be here for him, holding him against me as I rock him back and forth, comforting him, understanding his truth that’s been hidden deep within him for so long.
It’s taken so much for him to get to this place right here, in my arms, releasing his truth.
After a moment, he takes a few shaky breaths, sighing it out before laying his head against the side of the shower. His face appears hollow, like reliving the memory brought the ghosts to life again. His eyes are swollen from tears, the circles beneath them telling a story of tireless agony. We’re both just sitting here at the bottom of the shower, drenched in our clothes, not caring about anything or anyone around us but each other.
“We have to go,” I whisper, grabbing his hands in mine. “We have to get out of here.”
I take his hand in mine, as I help him up off the ground. We both exit the shower, changing out of our wet clothes. Hawke’s hangs from the shower as I quickly throw my dress into the wash.
Getting into some comfortable sweats, we quickly pack an overnight bag together in silence, get into my car, and leave. I’m not even sure where we’re going, but we’re going there together, tonight. There isn’t a plan, but we can’t stay here and risk Patrick coming back.
“If you head over to Brockton, there’s a motel off of highway nineteen,” he informs me as I take a left in my car towards the next town over.
We find the motel he was talking about, a cute little place that’s tucked away into a secluded wooded area off of the old highway road. A perfect hideaway spot.
Hawke pays in cash for the night as he’s given the keys for the room. We walk in, dropping our bags on one of the queen beds, standing there for a moment to finally breathe.
It’s been a long day and while there’s so much more to uncover, I think we’re both so used up and spent emotionally.
He sits on the edge of the bed, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, raking them through his locks before biting his bottom lip and looking up at me with heartbreaking pain.
I stand there, a few feet from him, giving him some space to reflect, when he reaches out an arm for me.
“Cole,” he says softly, some hesitation in his tone.
I walk towards where he’s sitting and plant myself on the floor between his legs, looking up at eyes that are unsure.
“How did you find out?” he asks softly, his eyes narrowed in confusion.
I shake my head, closing the space between us, cupping his jaw in my hands. “I didn’t. I just knew.”
He swallows, closing his eyes tightly, a wave of overwhelming gratefulness washing over him.
I grab for his hand, pressing his palm to my heart, then press my same palm to his. He sighs, his brows knit together, holding back tears. He licks his lips before leaning down and sealing them to mine. I kiss his top lip, then his bottom, then the corner of his mouth, before he presses his mouth firmly on mine. The kiss quickly turns passionate, our mouths and tongues comforting, healing, needing.
All of this time, he’s been looking through me, willing me to know his deepest, darkest secrets. Hoping by some small amount of faith that I’d figure it out. The pain and torture of needing to keep it all in when I’m sure all he wished was to let it all out, telling me everything.
There’s more to unravel, more to dig out of the grave, but at the moment, I want to focus on healing him, showing him my love and showering him with my support when he’s spent years fighting this alone.
He’s always needed me just as I’ve needed him, and I’m finally here, where I belong, never to let go.