Destructively Oblivious

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Chapter 7: Pain




1. ache and distress due to illness or injury; can be physical, emotional, and/or mental.


*Chloe’s Point of View*

I didn’t realize how quickly news spread in high school until my roommate was part of that news. It didn’t take much time at all for the entire student body to be buzzing about Asher’s fight after school. I didn’t know anything about the battle at first, but I quickly gained knowledge of the details, one of which being that it was my roommate who was part of the nonsense.

I’d never been an avid fan of fights. I didn’t get into them, that was for sure, but I also never had any interest in watching, especially knowing Asher was involved.

It all started when the girl who sat in front of me, Liz, craned her neck to look back at me in the middle of Econ. I glanced up at her from the notes I was taking, sending her a small, awkward smile, and raising an eyebrow.

She didn’t say anything, so I continued jotting things down about government spending and production possibility curves. After a moment, my eyes drifted up again, which revealed that she was still staring at me.

Finally, she leaned towards me and dropped her voice to a low whisper. “You live with Asher Freed, right?”

“I’m staying with him for a little while,” I corrected with a frown, unhappy with how quickly the people at my school found out about my living arrangements. It took Asher driving me to school one time for the rumors of our apparent coupling to begin. “Why?”

Liz opened her mouth to hopefully answer my question but was cut off when the boy to her left, Jonathan, offered me a question of his own. “Is it true he’s beating up Joe Morgan because of you?”

“Because of me?” I gaped, feeling the air being vacuumed out of my lungs. “What did I do?”

The brunette to the right of Liz, Saramia, also flipped to face me, again causing my inquiry to be left unanswered. “I think it’s kind of sweet that he’s defending your honor like that.”

“Defending my honor!?” I called louder than intended, pitching my voice lower to not disrupt the notes, and quietly repeated, “Defending my honor?”

Saramia shrugged, facing away and refocusing on the teacher’s lesson. “That’s what I heard.”

After that, I couldn’t have been paid to focus on my notes. I stepped from my classroom, spotting Asher at his locker towards the end of the hall. My disbelief from earlier resurfaced and I found myself storming over. He didn’t look at me when I walked up, too busy shoving things into his open locker.

With crossed arms, my eyes bored into the side of his head when he hadn’t acknowledged me. “You’re fighting someone, Asher?”

Without even a courtesy glance in my direction, he nodded at my inquiry. His jaw grinding, his hand came forward, slamming shut the door to his locker. I glimpsed around to make sure he hadn’t drawn any attention from passing students or staff and, while I was distracted, he took off in the opposite direction.

My eyes wide and my irritation as prominent as minutes before, I followed him, seizing his arm and flipping him around. “Why are you fighting? And what does it have to do with me?”

“Doesn’t have anything to do with you, Dol.” He dipped his tongue down to lick his bottom lip as he peered around the hall, searching. “It has to do with me and him.”

I frowned at his lack of concern. “You’re going to get yourself suspended.”

He rolled his eyes at my ongoing complaints. “There’s a staff meeting going on in the cafeteria. It will take them at least ten minutes to be notified that there’s a fight.”

My brows furrowing, I folded my arms across my chest again, commenting, “Quite an extensive knowledge you have on this topic.”

He shrugged. “Practice makes perfect.”

Since he wasn’t listening to any logical explanations, I gave my honest answer. “It’s a bad idea.”

“Yeah, those are what I’m known for.” He’d avoided my gaze the entire time I’d been in his presence, focusing on the hallway of people around us instead. When he took one last scan of the hallway, I lifted my hand, grasping onto his chin and pointing his gaze towards mine.

“It’s a bad idea, meaning you shouldn’t do it,” I tried again, hoping he could see the severeness in my expression.

He steadied, letting himself relax against my hand. I thought for a moment he’d been convinced, but another short second skipped by us before he’d shaken himself from my embrace and stepped away.

“I have to,” he declared before he gripped onto my wrist a little less-than-lightly, tugging me out the back doors of the school, leading to the courtyard.

Suddenly outside, I instantly noticed the large group of people huddled up, but Asher let go of me as soon as the cold winter air struck us outside the doors.

He looked as angry as he had minutes before, not a speck of sanity left over. He tended towards me and muttered, “Stay here.”

“But-” I started, taking a step closer to him as he turned his back to me.

He spun to face me, grabbing onto my biceps and moving me the step back. “Stay here. I’m not asking.”

Without looking at me again, he marched away and into the huddled group, every person roaring to life when he sauntered through them. I was suddenly stricken by worry and, ignoring his wishes, ran headlong after him.

I pushed through the enthusiastic crowd, not bothering to say sorry as my body collided with each unsuspecting victim. When I ultimately made it to the front of the rowdy group, our poor classmate who was about to be seriously injured, Joe, stood there intimidatingly. Asher stood there with a smug look on his face, appearing as if he was simply arriving for another day on the job.

Joe threw the first punch and Asher swerved out of the way, grabbing his arm and yanking him forward. After being pulled, Joe found himself clumsily tumbling forward, his face coming into contact with Asher’s fist.

I cringed. Asher unleased a string of blows on the poor guy’s face, beating him farther and farther into unconsciousness.

Joe somehow escaped the clutches, his body vibrating gently as he lifted his fists again, the blood dripping from his nose and lip only doubling.

Asher advanced again, and I couldn’t help but notice Joe appeared more like a helpless animal being mauled by a hungry predator.

Joe fired a second punch that Asher easily dodged before jabbing towards him a few more times, each punch catching air. Finally, he brought his foot up in a third attempt to injure my roommate.

That plan failed as Asher grabbed his foot and jerked it forward, causing Joe to fling backward onto the hard cement. Whatever Joe had said to set Asher off, I was confident he was regretting stepping onto school property that day.

The crowd was all cheering, screaming. It seemed like everyone was enjoying this except me. And Joe. Asher was relentless, and I winced again as he sent Joe a kick to the ribs.

“Asher!” I heard someone yell, and that someone was me.

Over the piercing noise of excited students, he’d heard my supplication, taking the valuable time to search and locate me in the large group.

When his eyes found mine, he was rendered speechless. His eyes widened at the sight of me, maintaining eye contact with me for the longest second in the universe.

Not one to miss an opportunity, Joe peeled himself from the floor, lunging forward to ensure his fist didn’t miss Asher’s face for the third time. His knuckle collided with my roommate's lip, and I gasped.

Taking a step back from the painful contact, Asher brought a delicate hand to his bloody lip, the injury only fueling his anger. Throwing one last punch meant to knock somebody out, Asher swung, hard.

I flinched away, diverting my eyes. Judging from the cheers from students, Joe was presumably in a lot of pain. I struggled my way back through my peers, once again unapologetically, running into the school building. I slammed the palms of my hands against the front door entrance and made my way outside, only stopping when I’d plowed down the front stairs and into the parking lot.

“Chloe!” I heard Asher’s voice from behind me, but that wasn’t what had served to spin me around. I’d never heard him call me by my actual name, besides the first time we’d spoken together in the hallway. I flipped around, addled that he was angry enough to desert my nickname. He moved down the stairs at an astounding rate, grasping onto my forearm. “What the fuck was that?”

Even angrier than I was moments before, I snatched my arm out of reach. “Don’t what the fuck me, Asher! You’re the lunatic who was fighting! I told you not to and now look at you!”

I gestured to his bloodied lip then turned away from him, spotting his car close by and pondering another way home, unable to fathom the idea of sitting in the car with an irritated teenage boy. An irritated teenage Asher, at that. He seemed to notice my hesitation to get into his car and gestured towards it.

“Get in the car,” he ordered. I rolled my eyes at his demand, walking past it. He grasped onto my arm again, pulling me away from the sidewalk I was heading towards and closer to his beloved vehicle. “You’re not walking home! Get in the car.”

I struggled to remove his hand from my arm as I was unwillingly dragged. “You didn’t listen to me, so why should I listen to you?”

He didn’t look in my direction as he continued tugging me. “Because I’m not letting you hike home, you idiot. That’s not safe.”

I glared at the back of his head, still trying my hardest to rip his fingers from around my wrist. “I can take care of myself.”

He craned his neck to look at me incredulously. “Crazy,” he said, turning away from me. “I was going to say the same shit to you.”

I gestured to the raw wound on his face. “Clearly!”

Finally at his car, he moved to face me, indicating to his lip. “This is your fault.” He tore open the passenger seat door, jostling me inside. “Now get in the fucking car.”

When I finally stopped fighting him and collapsed on the cool leather, he pressed his hand against the windowsill of the car, forcing the door to lock before he slammed it, ensuring I wouldn’t attempt to open it and get out as he circled to the driver’s seat.

The ignition roared to life as soon as he closed his own door. As he pulled from the spot, he glanced at my expression, noting my scowl, and rolled his eyes at my anger.

Although technically it was, I murmured, “It’s not my fault you got punched in the face,” before turning towards the window to avoid looking at him.

“The fact is, it could have been avoided if you’d stayed put,” he countered, flooring the gas when he’d reached the open road.

I snapped my head in his direction, biting out, “I was worried about you.”

“You shouldn’t be,” he scolded, taking the back of his hand to his bloodied lip. “I can handle myself, you know? I’ve done it for this long.”

“I can make the same argument. You don’t get to direct me around like I’m a kid.” I glowered.

His forehead confusingly marred as he eyed me. “You’re not a kid, you’ve just got the attitude of one. Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to sit still and listen?”

I stared at him icily, increasingly frustrated by his comments. I wasn’t a child and I’d never been treated like one in my life, so his observation was incorrect. I merely didn't listen to stupid commands made by someone who acted like they were my father.

Unable to tame my growing irritation, I spat, “Fuck you!”

Asher frowned at me, then shrugged, turning back to the road. I felt considerably guilty about yelling at him, especially such harsh words, but he had no right to say those things.

Minutes later, he parked the car with a jolt, bouncing out and walking into the house without bothering to say anything more. I followed him in, finding him in the kitchen with a paper towel pressed clumsily against his mouth. When his eyes landed on me, he tossed the blood-splattered napkin into the garbage and sped past me.

I set my hand on his arm, hoping that was enough to stop him, annoyed when all that did was fling me around in a half-circle. Realizing my one hand wasn’t enough, I grabbed his bicep with two, planting my feet on the ground to steady myself in the spot. Much stronger than me, he almost effortlessly dragged me along the kitchen floor.

“Stop it, Asher!”

He ignored my plea, moving towards the stairs and unhappily pulling me with him.

“I don’t understand why you expect me to listen to you, but completely ignore me when I ask something of you,” I pleaded, sighing with relief when he finally faced me.

He yanked his arm away from mine, the limb leaving my grasp as quickly as it had come. “You asked me not to fight, and that wasn’t something I could do.”

I grimaced. “Actually, you could have easily not punched anyone in the face.”

He rejected my response, turning back towards the stairs, giving me no other option besides blocking them. I stopped him with a hand against his chest when I’d stepped in front of him. “Dammit, Asher. You’re lucky I even care enough about you to worry if you’re hurt or not.”

His expression turned stern as he muttered, “Leave me alone.”


The blood from his cut had made its reappearance, leaking like a faucet down his chin. Motherly instincts kicking in, I wanted nothing more than to bandage up the small gash. His impatient nature wouldn’t allow for that. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he squeezed his eyes shut, most likely wishing me away from the stairs.

With limited patience, he sighed when he realized I wasn't moving. “Please, Dol, give me a second. I really need a minute alone.”

I exhaled, content he’d remembered to use my nickname, then nodded, his words pulling me away from the stairs. Pleased he had the chance to leave me and my pushy temperament, he ran upwards, letting his bedroom door slam behind him.


An hour later, I found myself in the back room of the diner, unable to ignore the memory of our argument. Asher had been right. I shouldn’t have followed him into the fight, but despite that, I’d been right too. I didn’t need anyone telling me what to do, especially not someone who got themselves injured for fun.

Mindy, my curly redheaded co-worker, approached me near the end of my shift. “Hey, are you okay?”

I scratched gently against the face of my palm, a nervous tick, waiting for the clock to hit eight, releasing me from my shift. “Yeah, why do you ask?” I wondered absentmindedly.

She chuckled, taking a seat in the back room beside me, pulling one of my hands in hers, partially to be comforting and part to get me to stop plucking at myself. “Well, you’ve dropped two plates, messed up three orders, and you’re picking off your nails one finger at a time. What happened?”

Sighing, I began to explain the brief reasoning behind my off mood. “Asher and I got into an argument. I don’t really know what to do to fix it. He’s never been angry with me before.”

“And Asher is, who? Your boyfriend?” Mindy tried to confirm. I giggled.

“No, no,” I mustered through my laughter. “Asher Freed. He’s the son of the family I’m staying with.”

“Asher Freed is the son of the family you’re staying with?” Mindy looked beyond surprised and, in a moment I wasn’t proud of, I felt irritation bubble in my chest that she was intrigued by that fact. Another moment passed and that vexation vanished when her features fell and she asked, “He’s Danny’s friend, right?”

I nodded, the guilt of bringing up my friend’s past boyfriend blooming. Mindy forced a smile and changed her fallen expression. “I’m sure if you apologized to him, things between you would go back to normal, whatever that is. Just talk to him.”

I tried to imagine a calm conversation with Asher when he was upset. I hadn’t known him for long, just enough time to know how cranky he could sometimes be. And I was almost positive he wouldn’t be the most forgiving after being punched in the face at the hands of me.

“In any case, bring him a piece of pie from the counter. A single slice could end wars.” Mindy smiled and shouldered towards the display of pie lining the front station.

My chance to respond to her idea was interrupted when Pete, the owner of the fine establishment where I worked (and Mindy's uncle), better referred to as my boss, stepped from his office.

“Hey, I don’t pay you girls to sit around and gossip, you know?” Pete pointed out with a small grin, tilting his head towards the dinner crowd.

“No gossip here, sir.” Mindy stood, smiling at me. “I’m sure everything will be okay between you two.”

After reassuring me, she turned to her uncle and wrapped her arms around him in a swift hug that he returned before she towed herself back out into the front room. Pete looked down towards the chair I was relaxing in, resting a hand atop the table in front of me.

His blow pleated when he noticed my sullen features. “Everything okay? Boyfriend problems?”

I stood, wondering if my Asher-issues could be labeled, then shrugged. “I guess you could say that.”


It was pushing nine at night when I finally got back to Asher’s. I collapsed on the couch next to Amy, who was watching TV, and a bright, tired smile played on her lips as she asked me about my day.

I shrugged, going on a mini-rant about her son and his irritating ways, hoping she could be of some help. She listened to my very brief explanation of my day, agreeing with my points as I assumed she, as Asher’s mother, would.

“Yes, Asher can be a bit... troubling at times. He’s never been the type of person to talk anything out. I have to say, I’m surprised you even got him to yell at you.” She chuckled. I did not. Noticing my sour expression, she smiled. “I’ll talk to him. Though, truthfully...” She sighed, rubbing her temples. “He and I have had this conversation a million times.”

“He gets into fights often?” I questioned.

She let out a painful chuckle as she studied the carpet below us, shrugging. “Sometimes. I understand his anger most of the time, and some of it’s my fault but-”

She cut herself off like she’d forgotten she was speaking, but shook her head and sighed, heading upstairs immediately to avoid delving deeper into what she'd been sharing. She made sure Prim was asleep in bed before she began the lecture towards the defiant teenager.

I stood in my room, my ear against the door as I eavesdropped on the conversation between mother and son. Knowing I shouldn’t spy, I did anyway. The two closed doors between my ear and the discussion made it difficult to hear the muffled whispers. Well, muffled whisper-yelling. As I was about to crack open the door to my room to hear more clearly, his bedroom door was yanked open.

I heard a much crisper spoken Amy. “Just be more careful, Asher.”

His door slammed behind her, her stomps towards and down the stairs the only thing distinguishable. Waiting as long as I could, I exited my own room and made my way into Asher’s, confused to find it completely empty. The window to my right was open, bringing my curiosity to a halt when I realized where he must have gone. I ran to said window, looking down to find the emptiness of a deserted street.

“Asher..?” I whisper-yelled downwards.

I heard him calmly respond, “Yeah?” Then, I almost fell out of the window due to shock.

I looked to my left and saw him on the lower, flattened portion of the roof a few feet away from the warmth of his room. Letting out a breath that he didn’t attempt the two-story jump, I managed my way out the window, the cold breeze hitting my bare legs immediately. I continued walking on the slanted roof until I reached the flat slabs that Asher was sitting on, drinking a beer.

As I attempted the last step towards him, my foot slid from the wood, which led to a panic-led scream exiting my mouth. I braced myself, sure I was two seconds away from falling onto my face and tumbling off the roof.

Like my knight in shining armor (or my pissed roommate who was probably wishing he’d never offered me a place to stay), Asher quickly grabbed my waist to seize me in place. He held me kindly as I took the last step and collapsed beside him.

“You are damn near the clumsiest person I’ve ever met.” He chuckled, staring forward and sipping his beer.

I grinned at him, then frowned. “I’m sorry about earlier and, well...” I had taken Mindy up on her pie idea, knowing that what she had said was true: Nobody could resist pie from the Bridge Cliff Diner. “I brought you pie from the diner. It’s in the fridge.”

He dropped a brow but smirked. “My forgiveness all depends on what type of pie it is.”

I cringed. “Apple?”

“You’re safe.” He grinned, annoyingly, then rolled his eyes. “Thanks for snitching me out to my mom, by the way. You got me grounded.”

I winced. I should have brought him two pieces of pie. “I am sorry.”

Shocking me, he shared, “I’m sorry too.”

He paused, the beer bottle at his lips, then glimpsed at me and shook his head. Setting the drink down, he tore his jacket off his shoulders, tossing it onto my lap. I was engulfed in the warm feeling, the black leather jacket affecting me like it was the best blanket I’d ever had.

I eyed him, confused. He shrugged, extending his fingers to lightly graze my arm. His skin was only against mine for a few milliseconds, but my flesh felt heated in the spot his fingers had targeted.

He brought the beer to his lips as he answered my unspoken question. “You have goosebumps.”

Smiling at him, I snuggled into the make-shift blanket. “Thanks.”

Asshole-ish smirk on display, he stared out into his neighborhood. It was then I noticed the dried blood on his lip and chin, which brought me to the conclusion he had yet to do anything besides briefly press a paper towel against it. Capturing his chin in my grasp, I swung his face toward me, not being overly gentle.

“Jesus, Asher.” I used my finger to touch the open-cut as he flinched away. “It’s been hours. You didn’t clean it?”

“Clean it?” he questioned.

I rolled my eyes. “Are you human? You don’t know you’re supposed to clean your wounds?”

“This is hardly a wound.” He smirked, taking another draw of his beer. Annoyed, and wondering how he’d made it so far in his life, I licked my thumb, pressing it directly onto the severed cut. As my thumb touched the bloody gash, he jerked away. “What the fuck are you doing?”

I exhaled. “Trying to get the blood off.”

He beamed at me, pointing to his mouth. “Your saliva is on my lip right now, Dolphin.”

A minuscule smile following my eye roll, I licked my thumb a second time, this time tasting the metallic flavor from Asher’s lip blood, and leaned forward. Dodging my help once more, he used the back of his hand to wipe away the crimson stain.

The dried blood stayed put, as did his smirk. “If you’re going to slobber all over my mouth, then you might as well use your lips to apply it.”

After a sharp shove to his shoulder, the only thing I could hear was his light laughter before the air fell silent again.

“Why did you get into that fight?” I asked quickly, hoping he wouldn’t tear me apart for bringing up what we had argued about.

He looked over at me, shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter. It was stupid.”

“It was stupid, but it does matter. All fighting does is hurt you, and not just physically.” A small annoyance-packed sigh escaped my lips as I watched Asher roll his eyes at my statement, and I added, “I mean honestly, you're an adult. Get a fucking grip.”

He laughed aloud, a pretentious grin hugging his expression. “I think I’m becoming a bad influence on you. You swear almost as much as I do.”

I gave him a soft smile. “I’m serious.”

His smile washed away as his gentle eyes met mine. “Me too, Dol. I don’t care about those types of things. I don’t think I want to care about those things. I think it’s great that you do, but that’s not me.”

“Caring about the physical wellbeing of the person you’re beating to a bloody pulp? Yeah, you’re right, that’s not you,” I muttered impatiently.

Asher frowned at me but didn’t say anything. Sighing, I leaned back on my hands. The leather jacket on my lap only warmed me so much, and I could feel the light breeze affecting me as goosebumps regrew along my skin. My voice softer, I began my second attempt to lacerate any relationship Asher had with fighting.

“I don’t like that you fight, Asher. In fact, I think it’s idiotic, and you shouldn’t be releasing your inner anger on other people. I’d really appreciate it if you... didn’t fight anymore. At least not when I’m around or involved.”

I let silence mantle the air for the lengthiest moment of my life, hoping I didn’t make him extremely angry, nor borderline homicidal, as we were on a roof.

Taking a breath that seemed almost painful, he peeked up at me. With another controlled breath and a few long sips of the beer, he spoke, his words full of humor.

“You gotta stop telling me what to do.” He chuckled.

“As soon as you stop putting yourself in physical danger.” I stood, holding out my hand in some sort of ‘no more pummeling’ agreement. “Promise, you won’t fight anymore?”

The hesitance on Asher’s face clear from a mile away as he clasped my hand in his. “I promise, but only because I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. The look on your face today got me punched. I’d hate for you to cause me any more physical pain than I’ve already endured.”

“Ha ha,” I gave him a pseudo laugh. “As long as you’re not fighting, I don’t care.”

He nodded as I turned away, paying me no attention as I climbed inside the window, grateful my legs had escaped the freezing weather from the outside world.

Hopeful for Asher’s future altercations, and feeling beyond special for the potential change he made for me, I snuck back into my own room, tugging his leather jacket, the one I had no intention of giving back, closer to my chest with each step away from him.

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