The hospital was horrible, cold and sterile, but the worst was waiting for news on Xav, I didn’t even know what had happened to him. And if Zeke’s appearance was anything to go off of it couldn’t have been anything good. He looked tired and unusually pale, clothes still heavy with water. The situation was definitely worse than I’d thought.
I shot a glance to Soraya only to see she was already looking at me, eyebrows raised in question as she wrapped her arms around her adopted brother. She looked just as worried as I felt, and didn’t seem to care that Zeke’s cloths were soaking her own.
Maer sat regally in her seat, one leg folded over the other and a phone pressed to her ear. I hated her honestly, she was rude and cruel, and I had no idea how Xavier had managed to grow up so normal with a parent like her. But she was still his parent and he loved her, even as she tried to micromanage every part of his life. It never worked of course, he did what he wanted, was friends with whoever he wanted to be and that was one of the reasons I was so proud to have him as a friend. He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he wanted and he never took shit from either of his parents.
With another glance at Zeke and Soraya, I shrugged off my own jacket, walking over to them and handing it towards Zeke.
“Here, you’re probably freezing your balls off by now” I forced my voice to sound happy, forced my lips into a grin, one he returned half-heartedly as he accepted the jacket. Soraya released him as she shot me an appreciative look, Zeke already pulling the damp fabric of his jumper from his body to replace it with the dry fabric of mine.
“Thanks” Zeke replied, backing up to the seats a few feet behind and slumping down on the hard plastic, his head dropping to his hands.
“Ashton, can I talk to you in the hall please?” Soraya spoke up, and I almost frowned at her using my full name. It was so unusual and the situation made it worse, but I nodded in response, moving towards the hallway to the left of us and out of view of both Zeke and Maer.
“Yeah?” I asked once we were out of sight, turning to face her as she leaned against the wall.
“This is bad, like I mean really bad.” Ray stated, a frown on her face,
“I know.” I replied with a sigh, leaning back against the wall beside her and screwing my eyes shut, the thumping in my head lessening enough for me to think properly. “What the hell even happened last night.” I was having trouble understanding how everything had all gone to shit so fast, it was just a party, it was supposed to be fun. We’d won baseball, it was supposed to be a night of victory but now we were in the hospital.
“A lot of shit that couldn’t have been helped.” Ray replied, her tone just as let down as mine, “I mean you getting drugged, Zeke and Xav falling off a roof? No one could have predicted it.”
“I should have been there for him.” I stated bitterly, if I hadn’t gotten so caught up in the win I wouldn’t have gotten drugged; I would have been there for Xav. But I wasn’t. I should have noticed something was wrong , I should have been there. I should have stopped it. But I wasn’t.
“It’s not your fault.” Soraya stated bluntly, “This isn’t about you, so don’t make it about you. Maybe you don’t know everything about Xav? Maybe he didn’t want you there? Did you ever think of that?”
“He’s one of my best friends, we tell each other everything, he could have come to me about anything.” I opened my eyes with a wince, the light hurting my iris’ but I ignored it, I didn’t get to mope around because I’d been fucked over, it wasn’t my place. Especially not when Xav was much worse off than me.
“Yeah? Well maybe he doesn’t tell you everything.” She stated with a glare in my direction,
“Why are you getting so into this?” I whisper shouted, “He tells me everything okay.”
“Whatever.” Soraya rolled her eyes pointedly, before turning on her heel to return to comforting her brother.
“Fuck.” I sighed, leaning back against the wall, this whole situation was so fucked up.
I stayed silently in the hallway for a few minutes, nursing my growing headache, before I was interrupted by shouting coming from the waiting area.
“What the hell did you do?!” Alistair’s voice shouted and immediately I was pushing off the wall towards the sound.
When I rounded the corner I saw Alistair gripping harshly onto the front of the jumper Zeke was wearing, his fingers crumpling the fabric. Soraya was shouting something trying to get Alistair to let go, but Alice wasn’t paying attention as he continued to shout at Zeke, not giving him any time to reply as he forcefully pushed him against the wall.
“Alistair!” I shouted, rushing over, “What the hell is going on?!”
“He did something to Xav and now hes in the hospital!” Alice snapped back, his glare never leaving Zeke’s face, and grip never wavering. He was pissed off, but I could read the fear off of him like a caged animal. He was terrified for Xavier and he didn’t know how to process what he was feeling. He’d grown up using his aggression to vent his feelings and I doubted that he even knew how to react.
“Alice, calm down man, Zeke didn’t do anything.” I attempted to reassure, placing a hand on his shoulder. He flinched, but didn’t shrug me off and I took that as a signal, moving between the pair and pushing him back a step. “Zeke was the one who probably saved his life.”
“Then why the hell is he still in the hospital?!” Alistair continued to glare over my shoulder.
“Alice back off.” Soraya pulled harshly on his arm again
“You haven’t known him as long as we have!” Alistair turned around and snapped, “This is none of your business!”
“Excuse me that my fucking brother you’re assaulting there.”
“Guys!” I tried, stepping forward, reaching out to stop them but Soraya was already connecting her fist with the side of Alice’s face. The sound rippled through the now silent waiting room.
“Fook, that hurt like a bu-ch” Alice flinched, his hand reaching up to cup the side of his face, “The hell was that for?” he asked rounding on Soraya with an incredulous look.
“What the hell was that sentence?” Soraya countered, eye brows raised in what could have been annoyance or amusement I couldn’t really tell. And then someone was clearing their throat in a professional way and it was only a little bit demeaning when we all turned around to see a doctor in an official looking white robe.
“Are you all the accompaniment of one..” He looked briefly at a clip board, “Xavier Ragnvalsson?” And to his merit he managed to get through that last name without a hitch, even if Maer tensed up like a prude at his lack accenting.
“Yes,” Alice stated confidently, despite the fact that he was probably the one of us all that looked least likely to be related to Xavier. But then again he was also wearing pyjama pants and his baseball jersey so I doubted he really cared that much what the doctor thought of him.
He also was only wearing socks. Red Iron Man socks, with holes in the heel.
“Right,” The doctor responded sceptically, eyes shifting across all of us, before landing on Maer as she stood regally from her position, smoothing her skirt across her knees before rising.
“I am his mother.” Maer spoke directly to the doctor, eying us all in annoyance briefly, “Tell me about my sons condition.”
“Well Mrs Ragnvalsson, your son has suffered multiple contusions from the fall,” The doctor began, eyes shifting once again to the clip board in hand as he lifted the page to view the one underneath, “He’s also sustained an acute fracture across his left zygomatic bone and the middle left portion of his mandible.”
“Sorry, what?” Soraya stated, voicing what I’m sure even Maer probably didn’t understand - although she was very good at her poker face so there was no way to really tell if she understood or not really.
“He’s messed up his face basically.” Alice stated, and everyone turned to look at him eyebrows raised in question.
“And you know that how?” Ray questioned,
“When I was younger I fractured my cheek bone falling into the stairs.” He elaborated, “The doctors called it a zygomatic bone fracture. And the mandible’s just fancy terms for jaw.” He shrugged like it was no big deal, but I could easily remember the purple bruises that had stained his face for weeks. I’d forgotten until now, but he’d been pretty messed up. But then again, so was the reason he was pushed.
“Okay so what does this mean for Xav?” Zeke spoke up for the first time, and I looked to see that he was pretty pale and looked a bit like he wanted to be sick. Ray must have noticed as well as she subtly moved closer to him to put her arm around his shoulders comfortingly.
“Well,” The doctor began, “He will need to stay in observation for 24 hours, and then he can be released from hospital. We will conduct an X-ray to make sure the bones are correctly aligned before he leaves. He will be suffering from sufficient bruising and swelling around the region and it is normal to see bruising around his eye including the eye white, which will appear red and inflamed but is not a concern. It should take roughly 6 weeks for the healing process to be complete, and he will need to come in for regular cheek-ups throughout this time period.”
“What does this mean for his sporting career and his schooling?” Maer questioned, her tone not holding any remorse for her sons pain. She was more interested in him holding up the family name and being the ‘perfect son’.
“Ma’am, he won’t be able to take part in any contact sports for at least 8 weeks, but he should be able to return to school within 4 days.”
“Is there any other medical concerns we should know about?” I cut in before Maer had the chance to say anything else crude in light of the situation.
“Yes, it is advised that he lay in an upright position to minimise swelling and bruising.” The doctor stated, before glancing at the clip board once again, eyes scanning the page before he lowered it again, “It is also mandatory that he refrain from blowing his nose for the next 10 days, as this can force air from the sinus’ into the skin and result in swelling and potential damage to the retrobulbar space behind the eyes.”
“And what is this potential damage to the retrobulbar space?” Zeke questioned cautiously, like he didn’t really want to know the answer. The doctor looked towards him, mouth set in a grim line,
“It could lead to permanent eye damage and blindness.”
“And just where exactly have you been?” Mum asked the moment I stepped in the door and I knew I was about to get in the shit so I had to come up with a damn good excuse as to why I haven’t been home since like Friday night. And fast. Because I’d crashed at Alistair’s last night because I wasn’t so sure on how he was holding up and I’d spent the night before at Ray’s. Wow I’d really screwed up.
“I’m sorry, just – a lot of stuff has happened, Ma.” I tried and failed at explaining. She was giving me that look that all mothers know, that one that says ‘you better start explaining or your grounded for life’ and I was starting to panic. She’d cornered me at the door and I was thanking whatever Gods there were, that I’d left my baseball gear in the back of my car.
“And what stuff was so important that you couldn’t at least call your mother? Janice had to baby-sit the girls all weekend and you know I try to pick up extra shifts at work when I can. She’s only 16 she can’t be dealing with that sort of stress right now.” Mum huffed in annoyance, her hands resting on her dainty waist. It was then I realised just how warn out she looked. There were dark rings around her eyes, and her skin wasn’t its usual vibrant colour and I was starting to worry that she was losing weight.
“Mum, I’m so sorry, I know you work hard, it’s just it’s been a horrible weekend. So much stuff has happened, Xavier’s in the hospital, Alistair’s freaking out. I just - I don’t know what to do any more.” I felt so pathetic. Before me stood a woman who was struggling to raise four children all by herself, whilst she maintained two jobs, picking up extra shifts wherever she could manage it and still she managed to keep herself from breaking down. And then there was me, I couldn’t even get a proper job for myself other than helping Mr’s Sanders mow her lawn and do the harder gardening for her.
“Xavier’s in hospital?” Mum asked, as she seemed to deflate, her shoulders dropping, worry making her look much older than she really was.
“Yeah” I said quietly, as if whispering it would make everything okay.
“Is – is he okay?” She asked carefully, her eyebrows drawing together in concern, and she reached out to place a hand on my arm delicately.
“He’s stable, but- but he’s in pretty bad shape, mum. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” I could feel my eyes prickling, it was all going to hell, I wanted to cry but I knew I couldn’t. Not now, not in front of my mother. She didn’t need anything else to worry about.
“It’s going to be okay sweetie.” She assured, pulling me closer into a hug. It reminded me of last night when Alistair had freaked out that something was going to go wrong and that Xav wouldn’t make it. He’d been a mess, but I’d pulled him into a hug just like Mum was doing now and just waited it out.
But right now I didn’t have time for that because it was getting late and I needed to make sure the twins had had their bath and that dinner was ready and that everything was okay. Because I needed that sense of normalcy.
“Mum?” I asked softly, pulling out of her arms gently, “Why don’t you go and get some rest? I’ll make sure everything’s running as smooth as this family can manage.” I forced a smile onto my face as I spoke, I could be strong for her and for the girls, because they needed me to be there for them. And right now I’d missed a weekend and it was time for me to step up my game.
“No no, it’s fine, you’ve had a busy weekend sweetie, I can handle it for tonight.” Mum reassured, but I could tell that she was tired beyond words so I just pushed her in the direction of her room.
“I’ve got it covered, mum. Now go to sleep god dammit.” I joked, and let out a breath of relief when she let out a small laugh but didn’t protest any further.
“You’re such a good son.” She turned to say and I knew she meant it, even if I really didn’t feel like one right now.
“Love you, mum.” I said sincerely, before shooing her away with my hands, “Go. Sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.” I grinned at her as she laughed and made her way down the hall.
With that in check I made my way into the kitchen, careful not to put too much pressure on my ankle as it was flaring up still after the game, especially now that all the alcohol and adrenalin had left my system.
The kitchen was empty when I arrived, which was strange for a place that held three hungry girls. But I just continued my search towards their bedrooms and when I stood at the entrance to the twins shared rooms I wasn’t surprised when I saw them. All three passed out in various stages of sleep on top of Jaques’ bed. I was however, surprised to see that both the twins were sporting wet hair, meaning they’d already had their baths.
It was a welcome sight after a hectic weekend and I pulled my phone from my pocket to take a picture. It was only then that I realised Sandy was actually in the room as well, wrapped up tight in Jaques’ sheets and snoring away comfortably. I stopped and watched them all for a few minutes before I turned away with a fond smile and a warm feeling in my chest, to go and make them some dinner. Even if I would regret waking them all up later.
“Turn to page 394, we’re starting a new chapter on fairy tales today.” Mrs Hagglebacon spoke to the class, it was modern history and she was her usual disgruntled self, age taking its toll on not just her face but her tolerance with students. I mean she probably should have been retired by this point honestly.
But if I’m being honest, no one was really listening. The news of Xavier being in hospital had hit the school like a live-wire and by now I’m sure that there wasn’t a single person who hadn’t heard, and everyone was more worried than focused. Some moved on unaffected but everyone on the team was obviously effected, no one was laughing as loud as they normally do. It was almost like without Xav being around, there was no one to lighten the mood, not even Alistair seemed to hold his usual charm.
Arguably, Alice had taken the news the worst - aside from probably Zeke. He wasn’t good with people leaving him, and even though Xav was just away from school for a few days, I think it had scared him more than he was letting on.
“Psst, Ass.” Soraya hissed, and when I looked up she pointed to a piece of paper that had landed on my table. It was crumpled in a ball, but I reached out and flattened it out on the desk to read the note neatly written on the top right.
Have you visited Xav?
I frowned at the question, but wrote back a simple;
Yeah, I went by this morning.
Was he awake?
It was monday morning, Xavier had been in the hospital overnight, so he was scheduled to be home sometime today. But it would still be about a week before he was off the pain medication and well enough to actually come back to school.
“No” I whispered, too lazy to bother writing it out on another piece of paper. I mean technically we did have phones that she could have just texted me with but I guess it was better to work on the whole primary school letter passing.
“Did you just break the letter chain? I can’t believe you just did that.” Soraya whispered back, frown on her face as she snatched the paper back off my desk and scrunched it in her hands.
“Well sorry we’re not 5” I rolled my eyes, a smirk tilting up the corner of my mouth.
“You should be.” She stated, and then Hagglebacon was turning around from the board, glare on her face as she tried to locate the person disrupting her lesson. Her lips were pursed and even from the back of the room you could clearly see the dark shadow of her moustache.
“Who is talking?!” She snapped abruptly and almost everyone jumped in their seats. It was almost comical. But it put an end to any conversation between Ray and I.
When it finally came time for training I threw my arm around Alistair’s shoulders and we walked towards the locker room together.
“It’s gonna be so weird without Xav around.” Alice spoke up, he still sounded a bit worried but we’d both received news in the last lesson that he’d finally been released from the hospital.
“Nah, everyone will still be dicks so it won’t be that different.” I joked, letting out a surprised bark of laughter when he punched me in the arm and pushed me away with a grin.
“Bro, I’m pretty sure you’re the biggest dick on the team, I’m sorry to say.” Alistair laughed, before he sombre immediately, “And are you really gonna train after what happened at the game on Friday?”
I was briefly taken off guard by that comment. It’s not like my ankle wasn’t still hurting me, it’s just that with all that’s been going on I tried to ignore it as best I could. Sure I’d been icing it and putting heat on it, but that did basically nothing to stop the purple bruising that had formed. Pierce really was a dick.
“I might just do some throwing, and sit out for the rest.” I shrugged, there was really no chance that I’d been running on it anytime soon, especially if I wanted to play this week’s game.
“You sure that’s a good idea? Man you’ve got a proper limp going on.” Alice shook his head, concern clear on his face. “Bloody hell, what kind of breakable friends did I get, jeez. One of you’s falls off a roof and the other fucks up his walking.”
“Wow, way to make us feel loved there man.” I laughed, shoving him into a nearby locker, before we reached the door to the guys change room. The sounds of the team could already be heard in the hallway and when we both entered it was just as loud.
“Hey I’m being a glorious friend and waiting for you, thank you very much.” Alistair pointed out as we stepped further into the room. “Now hurry up and get that cute ass on the field buttercup.”
And that’s right about when what everyone else was talking about registered to us.
“There’s no way Xavier could be a fag.” Justin stated, he sounded weary of the conversation, shock clear on his face.
“It’s true, I saw him at that party the other week and he disappear with another guy.” Jasper insisted.
“Dude, are you sure you weren’t just drunk?” Finn cut in, an eyebrow raised in scepticism.
“Oi, what the hell is this?” Alistair barked, his face set in a scowl as he glared at everyone hanging off the benches.
“Is it true?” Calen questioned, he looked just as shocked as the others. “Is Xav gay?”
“What? Of course not. He’s probably hit up more chicks then most of you guys combined.” I stepped up to his defence. There was no way Xavier could be gay, he would have told me. That’s just not the sort of thing that bros kept from each other.
“Com’on we all saw him on the weekend with Zeke. There’s definitely something going on there, man.” Joseph added his two cents worth. But it was a lie. Not everyone had seen them at the party. Both Alistair and I had already left by then and honestly we both still had no idea what really happened.
“That doesn’t mean a thing.” Alistair defended, his stance stiff. Clearly he was just as thrown by the topic as me. But it was strange how Zeke had been so scared at the hospital. Hell, I don’t even remember seeing him at the party the whole time I was there. So how had he been there to fall off the roof? Why were they even talking? As far as I was aware they weren’t even that close.
“The signs are all there, man. Xavs a faggot” Alex stated bluntly, it was the first time I’d heard him speak in this whole conversation, and when I turned my attention onto him I could see the clear disgust written across his face. And immediately I realised that this situation was about to go from bad to worse.
Xav wasn’t here to defend himself whether he was gay or not and if more of them reacted to this rumour like Alex then all hell could break loose. Especially when some of the guys were already shy enough about sharing a locker room. If people thought Xav was trying to steal glimpses of their junk then there would be a whole new level of tension in the room. It just couldn’t happen. Xavier was like a brother and there was no fucking way I was gonna let people talk shit about him behind his back. Alistair seemed to be thinking the same thing as he shot a worried look in my direction briefly.
“You just shut your fucking mouth Alex.” I spat aggressively, “Who gives a shit if Xavier is gay? It’s none of your goddamn business. He’s not going to change. Nothing has changed. So get the fuck over it.”
It was true. Even if Xav was gay then nothing would change. But that didn’t stop the distrust that I felt creeping up. He would tell me if he was gay right? I mean we’d been friends for years. He couldn’t possibly think I’d care about something as little as that. So why would he keep it a secret. Was it even a secret? Soraya seemed to know something about what was going on at the hospital. So maybe he’d told here but not me. That thought sent a burst of anger through my veins.
Why would he trust her more that Alice and I?
Why had Soraya kept it a secret from us when clearly she’d known all along?
“Dude,” Alice spoke up, grabbing me by the shoulder and turning me to face him, “You don’t think Xav’s really gay do you?” He looked just as hurt as me at the possibility of our best friend lying to us this whole time.
“I don’t know man. Would he lie to us like that?” I asked bitterly, turning away to pull on my spare shirt for training. I was unreasonably angry about this entire situation and right now I really just wanted some answers.
Alice remained silent after that and I pulled on the rest of my gear in silence.
I was the first on the field, as per usual, waiting for all of the boys to turn up for training. Coach had told me to start stretching about five minutes ago, I’d already dealt with my arms, so I was moving onto my leg stretches. The only thing I dislike about my legs stretches is that a lot of them involve bending over, and I’m on a team of males wearing ankle length skins.
Deciding that maybe lunges would be a better idea to go with for now, the boys should be coming soon so maybe I might luck it in. After finishing most of my stretches the boys still weren’t here so, innocent little me thinking it was safe, decided to do my standing toe grabs. My ass was in the air and it was that fortunate moment that the entirety of the team decided to walk out.
As soon as the first wolf-whistle sounded I stood up straight, gave the finger and began running around the field. As I made my way around I did my dynamic stretches, making it back to the rest of the team in time for the group run. Soon enough and I was picking up my glove, grabbing a ball and waiting for someone to pair up with me. Normally I would be with Xavier or Ashton, so with Xav out I was waiting for Ass to be ready and come line up with me.
However, instead of lining up with me, he walked right past without so much as a glance my way as he began to throw with Calen.
“What the fuck’s up his ass?” I asked the person next to me, who just happened to be Finn.
“Um, am I supposed to answer that?” He responded, my eyes rolling instinctively.
“Well I would like some insight considering he was fine before he went into the change rooms so... what happened between then and now?” I was starting off with a simple question, but he didn’t look like he wanted to answer. Fortunately for me though the reputation I had gained in this team was that if I want to know something, you let me know or end up in emotional and physical pain. What can I say? I scare people. So I just waited patiently for him to stutter out his response.
“Kingston! Get throwing!” Coach shouted, abruptly cutting off the conversation as he walked over towards us. “Quit chatting. It’s called training for a reason. So get training.” Shit. Apparently I don’t just have Ashton pissed with me for no reason but now Coach hates me too.
“Excuse me?” I think I was already getting into a shitty mood myself, and this training had barely even started.
“Why aren’t you throwing with Klarence? What do you think this is? He is your catcher so get your arse over there and warm up.” He told me.
“How about you go talk to ‘Klarence’ then? I’m sure he’ll listen to you.” I snapped, well aware that he was the complete wrong person to be talking like that to. But right now, I didn’t care. I needed to find out what the hell was going on from someone, because I’m sure all of the boys on this team know, I just have to pick a weak link and target them...
After throwing with Finn since Ashton was still in his shitty mood, we went into some batting, meaning it was time for me to approach Justin and get the information I wanted while we waited.
“Justin, can we talk for a second?” I asked, he looked a little shocked that I was talking to him but nodded all the same. We moved off to the side, and I started flashing him a half-genuine and half-flirtatious smile. “Okay, I have a question and I really need you to answer it for me...” I trailed off,
“Uh, sure?” He answered sceptically, but not before I caught him shooting a glance to Chris for help.
“Good. Now what the hell happened in the change rooms?”
“Uh... I don’t know if I should-”
“Think about what you’re going to say now Justin... wrong answer and you may end up in the dirt with a broken nose.” Yes, I am a lovely person indeed.
“Uh... well...” He trailed off awkwardly again, his silent pleas for help from Chris going completely unnoticed by our other teammate.
“Justin, don’t make me slap you.” I stated bluntly, hopefully it was scary enough for him to answer my simple fucking question.
“Well... Xavier might be g-”
“KINGSTON! BATTING! NOW!” I rolled my eyes at Coach’s shouting, turning to look at him before I looked back to... thin air apparently. Since when did Justin become a professional ninja? I began walking back so I could bat, thinking about what Justin hadn’t finished saying...
Xavier might be g-
Great? Good? Gorgeous? Gawk-worthy? Generous? Glorious? Gay? Oh shit... Oh shit that’s the one. Oh fuck, they know... and Ashton knows that I knew something before. That could be why he ignored me before. But he should get over it, it’s not my fault I pay attention to people’s lives and figured it out. It’s not my fault Xav didn’t tell anyone. It’s not my fault.
So he better not be blaming me, and if he gives me shit he will be hit with a whole new world of pain. He will be facing a very angry and fucked off Soraya. A side of which he has only just seen a little of. And this time I won’t reign it in because I will have every right to be pissed off at him.
“Kingston, practice with Klarence while we finish up here.” Coach stated, and as I looked over to Ashton I almost curled into a ball. His glare was that intense, his jaw clenched tight, giving his already defined cheekbones a further depth. I could tell that Ashton’s ankle was still in pain, even through the pissed off glare which was still present on his face. Okay, I may get angry at him but there is a strong mental note to make sure his ankle doesn’t get even more fucked. I watched his mouth move as he spoke, the words taking a second to register.
“Coach, I was warming up just fine with Calen.” Ashton stated bluntly, not bothering to cover his obvious aggression.
I suppose I never said anything about breaking his nose...
“Does it look like were still warming up to you Klarence?” Coach asked rhetorically, meaning Ass and I were forced to the side for me to pitch. No more questions asked.
We started slow before I got ready to start my practice pitches. My throws were perfect, as usual, whereas the ones from Ashton were horrible. They were along the ground to begin with, before they suddenly started going over my head until I was starting to jump to reach them. They then started getting out of my reach, above my head, two meters to my right, three to my left...
The bitch was doing it on purpose.
Keep calm Soraya, keep calm. You just have to deal with this asshole until the end of training. Then I’ll get normal average-prick-Ashton back instead of this full-cactus-motherfucker. Patience... be patient and it will all go away... patience...
The ball was thrown back to me, and ‘by back to me’ I mean Cactus over here must’ve figured out the extent of my stretching abilities because he threw it just far enough for it to clip my glove before it kept sailing past.
Patience is overrated.
“What the fuck was that?!” I shouted. “Actually, don’t answer. I’m not getting the ball, you go get it since it was your fucking fault.”
“I’m not getting it, so you might want to start moving that pretty little arse of yours and get the ball that you missed before Coach sees, yeah?” he stated in a poisonous tone, his eyes narrowing at me.
“If you think I’m going to get that, you’re dumber than I thought.” I responded, before deciding that maybe fighting fire with fire wasn’t going to get this sorted. I would be the bigger person. I would be calm. I would be nice. Because that is definitely my personality in a nutshell. Nice and calm. Exactly. “Look, are you going to tell me why you’re being a dickhead or are you just gonna piss me off?” There we go, I said it in a calm tone so it counts.
“You know what Ray? You want to talk? Let’s talk.” He snapped, moving closer to me. “Because apparently that’s what everyone else has been fucking doing being my back. So yeah. Let’s fucking talk. ”
“What the hell are you on about?”
“You... you fucking knew didn’t you?” He snapped, coming to stop less than a foot away from me, his height causing me to have to crane my head back slightly to look him in the eye. Because I would be damned if I was gonna back down.
“Knew what exactly?” I questioned, narrowing my own eyes stubbornly, I was not about to go and spill all my thoughts to him.
“In the hospital, you knew.” He laughed a little cynically. “Oh you knew... you didn’t tell me, but you knew. Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me Xav... Why didn’t you tell me Xavier’s gay?! Did you have to keep it to yourself like a little bit of fucking blackmail?! What kind of friend are you to think that keeping something like that to yourself was okay?! He’s one of my best friends! We tell each other everything! Why didn’t either of you tell me?! You both lied to me! I can’t believe you did that to me. I thought we were friends Ray." He finished off in a calm-anger, one that was unsettling, even more so than talking to Xavier at the party. I thought I was going to be angry if Ashton shouted at me, blamed me for this. But I’m not.
And although I was angry, I didn’t want to punch him in the face... I wanted to comfort him.
It hit me hard to think that he thought both Xav and I were keeping this a secret from him. He was hurt. He was hurt and all I wanted to do was comfort him. Because here he was having to find out something so big about one of his best friends from a bunch of gossip. He probably didn’t even know what to think. Xavier might not even be gay, or at least he isn’t ready to accept himself, but Ashton doesn’t know that. No. All he knows is whatever he heard in that locker room.
I should stay, try to talk some sense into him, maybe shed some more light on the situation but I could already feel my face heating up... my eyes beginning to sting. My breathing was deep and shaky, my chest constricting as I realised how much I was actually hurt.
This wasn’t my fault, and I hated standing here whilst he tried to push the blame onto me. It’s not my fault Xavier might like guys, and it was right of me to keep that a secret until he was comfortable to tell his friends or admit it to himself in the first place.
That thought alone made me angry. Very angry. So angry, in fact, that I slapped him hard across the face.
“A good friend? You’re questioning whether I’m being a good friend? Really? What the fuck gives you the right to even say that? Xavier denies it, you know? In case you thought you might want to actually ask your best friend about it before believing some stupid rumours. And even if he is, why the hell do you think you can just blame this all on me?! He’s the one that’s been leading my brother on, he’s the one that hasn’t told you, he’s the one who won’t even come to terms with anything. And you’re angry at me for not telling you? Not telling you what exactly? That I don’t know if Xavier’s gay? Even if I did know I have no right to tell you that. That is for Xavier to tell and only Xavier, keeping it a secret was me being a ‘good friend’ and if you think otherwise you’re actually a fucking dickhead.” His expression had fallen blank as I spoke, a bright red hand print forming on his face and oh, I was not finished yet.
“You know what? Fuck you Ashton, for thinking this is about you when it’s really not! Fuck you for treating me like shit! Fuck you for not even caring about how you make anyone else feel! Fuck you for getting angry over this in the first place! You want to know who the fucking horrible friend is, Asshole? Cause I can tell you it isn’t me! It’s you! You’re the one who’s angry over the fact their so called ‘best friend’ might be gay! You’re the one who should’ve already known!” I took a calming breath, but even the intake of oxygen couldn’t stop the acidic feeling from rising through my body, it couldn’t calm my racing heartbeat. “You should’ve known by now or you should have fucking asked him.” I spat, before turning and walking away, pushing past anyone who tried to stop me.
“Coach, I have to go.” I stated as the tears in my eyes built even more, blurring my vision as I kept walking, not waiting for a response. My legs carried me back to the change rooms, where my bag was waiting for me. Immediately I sat down on the bench, my head in my hands as I tried to gather my thoughts and stop myself from crying. I’m Soraya Kingston. I don’t cry.
I never cry, and I’m not about to start now. And definitely not because Ashton decided to blame me for something that wasn’t even my fault. No. I wouldn’t cry, I won’t even pay attention to him when I see him next. He can get ignored, just like he ignored me at the start of training, and if he tries to speak to me he can get his head ripped off just like he did me. I took in another shaky, deep breath, letting it out slowly as I finished gathering my composure.
I was better than this. I wouldn’t sit here crying over some harsh words.
I stood up, looked in the mirror to see how obvious it was that I had been crying before I called Zeke to get him to pick me up. I wouldn’t be getting a ride home with Ashton today, and there was no way in hell I was walking home, not with my school bag. So I waited out in the car park for him, clambering into the car as soon as it pulled into a park.
“Why am I picking you up early?” He asked confused, but I just sighed at his question, realising how much he had to do with this whole situation without him even knowing. I looked to the roof of the car, hoping he would let it go. “Ray-Ray, what’s wrong?”
“Everything... everything’s wrong.” I suppose it was just a light lie, not everything was wrong. I could’ve taken that emotional beating from anyone else, literally anyone, Zeke and Kelley included. But something, I don’t know what, just hit me at a level I didn’t know existed. I knew it wasn’t everything, not even half of it was because of the shitty situation at hand. It was really only one factor that pushed me over the line and made me such a mess, and I didn’t know why. All I knew was that it was because of him.
Because of Ashton.
“What the hell was that Klarence?!” Coach shouted, storming up to me with a glare ono his face.
“Nothing Coach.” I replied distractedly, already making to head off towards the change rooms where Ray had disappeared. I’d made a huge mistake. That didn’t stop the hurt that swamped me. But I was wrong to take it out on her, I just hadn’t known how else to deal with it.
“Don’t you ‘nothing’ me, where do you think you’re going?” He snapped, “Training isn’t over, no one else leaves, until it is. And that’s final.” At that he blew his whistle and forced us back into a base drill.
It was horribly awkward without a pitcher. Both Xav and Ray not being here left the position blank. And to make it worse the entire team had decided to gang up on me. Throwing balls everywhere but my glove, it was hell on my ankle but I deserved it.
Coach either didn’t notice or didn’t care because he let practice continue on as normal. But it wasn’t until we were in the change rooms again that it got worse.
Because as soon as I stepped into the room I was shoved harshly against the wall, Finn looming in front of me as the rest of the guys stood in a half circle around him.
“What the hell was that?!” Finn snapped, letting go of me to shove my shoulder harder into the wall, “You made her cry.”
“Yeah that was fucked man.” Calen added, the rest of the team murmuring in agreement.
“I didn’t – I didn’t mean to make her cry.” I tried to explain. I hadn’t wanted to upset her, but I was just so angry that they’d both kept it from me.
“Well you bloody well did.” Finn growled out angrily,
“I know but–” I didn’t get to finish as Finn slammed his first into the side of my face, the sound cracking around the now silent locker room.
“I don’t care. You don’t make girls cry.” He hissed, grabbing onto the collar of my jersey, I didn’t even try to push him off.
“Finn, that’s enough man..” Jasper cut in, reaching out to place his hand on his shoulder, only to be shrugged off as Finn stepped back.
“Whatever.” He muttered before pushing past the others to get to his bag.
“He’s right you know.” Calen spoke up, “You messed up badly this time man.” And then he too turned to leave, the rest of the guys following to grab their stuff. When it was just me and Alistair in the room I let out a sigh,
“I really fucked up this one didn’t I?” I asked glancing up at him as he leaned against the wall calmly.
“Yeah you kinda did.” He nodded, “But come on man, it’s late, and you’ll think of some way to make it up to her.” At that he threw my duffle bag towards me and I caught it with a frown, wincing slightly when it pulled on my rapidly bruising cheek.
“You’re gonna have a mad shiner tomorrow.” Alice observed, a smirk shaping his face, “But you totally deserve that.”