I was shell shocked. How could it be him? After all this time, where has he been?
“Hunter, it’s me. I’m back for good this time.” He stepped in closer, he had a cleanly shaved face, and his usual greasy brown hair was gone, also shaven down to his scalp, but he suited the look.
“Troy?” I felt my eyes watering up. I wasn’t sure how to take this, I was blindsided.
“Hunter, I’m sorry.” His arms reached out for a hug as he approached me. His usual stink was now gone and replaced with a mahogany cologne.
“No.” I raised my hand not thinking twice about it.
“Hunter, please.” He cautiously stepped in closer.
“You fucking abandoned me!” Finally, I released my hand with all the force I could muster and slapped his face. The sudden sting on the palm of my hand was probably not as bad as Troy’s reddened cheek.
He held his hand to his face, “HUNTER PLEASE.” Troy’s voice was rasped, like he was trying to hold back the tears.
“You fucking abandoned me Troy!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as the tears flowed down my cheeks.
“Hunter, let me explain.” As I raised my hand again, I felt his arm pull me in tightly to his body. I finally gave into his hug and hung on for dear life.
Now my running river of tears were accompanied by sobs. I couldn’t help it. I felt like a dam bursting from the pressure.
“YOU LEFT ME.” My throat was closing up and the words barely left my mouth. All this time had past since that horrible night, and now he decided to show up unannounced?
“Hunter, I’M SO SORRY.” I felt Troy’s arm rubbing my back as we kept our tight embrace.
“Why did you leave?!”
“I’m a fucking coward Hunter.”
“What happened then explain to me, I need to know why you left me.”
“After I got Coach Andrew to help you…. I got clean Hunter. I’m fucking clean now.” I could feel Troy’s tears falling on my face.
I looked up at him to see his water filled eyes looking down at me. This must have been the hardest thing he’s ever done, and I wasn’t even there to help him, but at the same time, I needed help too.
“You didn’t have to do it alone.” I sniffed.
“I had to do this alone Hunter. I have to accept what I did in the past.”
“What do you mean?”
“I fucking killed him Hunter.”
“Who?” I raised my eyebrows curiously.
“Right before he broke your arm.” Troy’s cries turned into sobs. “I went back to the house, and I took the knife from the kitchen table, and I...” He swallowed hard, “I CUT HIS THROAT AND RAN AWAY! I WAS A STUPID KID! I WAS JUST PROTECTING YOU!”
This must explain why he’s been this way since we got out of foster care, but was this really the reason? Did he actually kill him? It felt like an eternity ago, I barely remember our foster father Blayne. I remember he was a complete asshole that used to beat the shit out of us daily. We ran away after he broke my arm, but I didn’t know Troy went back to kill him.
“Oh Troy.” I dug my face into his chest tightly.
“You needed to heal Hunter, and I couldn’t burden you with my detox. I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. What they did to you that night, I could never take it back, and it was all because of the drugs.”
“We’re both alive, that’s all that matters.” I stood back to see his new look. I was so proud of him. I’ve never seen him look so healthy in his whole god damn life.
“I’m so sorry Hunter, what they did to you. I was such a coward; I should have fought for you. I should have died that night. You didn’t deserve any of that, and I fucking ran away.” He grabbed my hand and held it tightly, “Those assholes took something from you that I could never replace, and from now on I’ll take care of you. I do not need your forgiveness now, but I need you to trust me again. I could never understand what you went through, and I hope you can one day you can forgive me, even if it takes years, I will wait.”
"It's ok Troy, we both need to heal now. We will get through this together... LIKE ALWAYS," I squeezed his hand tightly in mine, “Let’s go home brother.”
We were only a floor away to our apartment and Troy was still talking about his sobriety journey. He stayed at an old friend’s place that was connected to the church near uptown. He ran there that morning and didn’t look back.
I was still pissed he left so quickly after he got coach Andrew, but he was so messed up in the head with drugs that I didn’t touch the topic. He already overcome so much that I wanted us to enjoy our reunion. I couldn’t believe how much bigger he looked, he almost seemed a few inches taller.
“Are you sure you didn’t go to the gym while you were at your friends house?” I jokingly nudged his arm.
“I can’t explain it Hunter, I just feel stronger. I feel clear minded. The first few days were hell, but after a couple weeks, my strength grew so fast. I didn’t want to reach out to you right away. I felt so guilty… I wanted to show you instead of talking about it. I’ve disappointed you so much that my words feel empty and shallow. I’m just so sorry it took so long.”
We were finally in front of our apartment door and I searched my bag for my keys, “Troy don’t think that way. I’ll support you no matter what. I wish you spoke to me sooner, I thought you were dead.”
“Your right and I’m sorry.” Troy dropped his head to the ground in shame.
I placed my hand on his arm and smiled, “It’s ok you’re here now, that’s all that matters.”
"Thanks Hunter, appreciate that." His face lit up as I turned the key in the lock.
"It's late, lets call it a night and talk later in the morning."
As we both entered the apartment I noticed the lights were on.
“Strange, did you come here before you met me?” I threw my bag on the floor and glanced around.
Everything seemed to be in order. No ambush, no strangers waiting and nothing out of place.
I didn’t hear his response and called out to him again, “Troy?”
“WHO THE FUCK IS THIS?!” A loud growl boomed through the apartment and I froze dead in my tracks.
It was Marcus holding Troy by the throat.