Chapter 14: Shawn
All of Friday I can’t stop myself from staring at her as she avoids making eye-contact along with really any contact with me all day and at any cost. It makes me a bit pissed really, but after what happened between the two of us last night, well let’s just say I’m not all that surprised about her avoiding techniques becoming that much more defined. Not to mention extreme.
But even with her behavior towards me now, that doesn’t change the fact that I want and need to tell her about what happened in the bar. It feels like she would just know what I need to do to survive this whole ordeal, so if I can’t go to her, I’m going to Jonah.
I’m telling not just him, but the boys about all of this today, and I hope at least one of them decides to keep a level head so I can get all the help I need. Aaron’s advice about looking out isn’t really going to do much for me though it was enough to at least know that something is coming my way.
“Shawn, can you stop staring at my sister like that for five minutes, it’s really starting to make me feel uncomfortable.” Jonah’s voice meets my ears before I rip my eyes away from Amaya for the first time all day, not thinking about how I want to take her in just a bit longer before I can’t do it any longer. “What’d she do this time around?”
I look away from Jonah, my cheeks tinting red. “More like what we did,” I mumble out, shaking my head as I do so.
My hands begin to make loose fists under the table as I begin to just stare at my plate with cheese pizza on it. Amaya only eats cheese pizza. I take a deep breath before pushing it away from me like Aaron would when he doesn’t like his food or want it anymore. I know he picked that up from me since Amaya doesn’t care if she likes the food or not, she eats it because in her house, you got the food you got and if you didn’t want it you’d go hungry for the night.
Out of the side of my eye, I can see Cody trying to take the slice before Dylan hits his hand away and tries to push it back to me, I only shove it away again.
“I don’t want it. You can have it, Cody.” He goes to grab it again before his hand is hit away once again.
“Shawn, what have you eaten all day?” Dylan asks while staring at me, his eyebrow raised. When I don’t answer he shakes his head, bringing the pizza to sit in front of me again. I just about let out a growl while looking at him. I get that he’s trying to be a good friend and get me to eat something, but I don’t want to. I don’t have to. “Look Shawn, I get that you’re going through a hard time right now, I do, but starving yourself isn’t going to change what’s happened with Amaya.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Dude, you’re always hungry,” Xavier says before chuckling.
“Well, I’m not hungry today. I don’t want the damn slice of pizza. I don’t want food in general right now. I want to go back to not having panic attacks. I want to go back to my room and pretend that everything is fine and fucking dandy, but it’s not. I can’t do any of it.” I can feel myself practically shaking and I don’t know why for once. All I know is that it’s not all anger, and I’m not panicking just yet.
“Wait, did you have a panic attack this week?” Ace asks, concern filling his voice.
“Last night,” I whisper. “I was sleeping and then it felt like I was dying and I woke up in the middle of the night. I- I couldn’t- it felt like it would never end. I didn’t want to wake anyone, even if I wanted to, it was like I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move and it was hard to breathe.” I can feel Xavier’s eyes on me before he nudges me just a bit, his arm now slugging around my shoulder.
“You should’ve woken me or Mom up right after it happened. We would be there. We’re going to be there.” I close my eyes.
“What triggered it?” Jonah asks; I look to him.
“What I was told when I went out,” I answer vaguely.
“Tell me what you were told,” he demands in a small voice, most likely trying to get an idea as to what’s going on.
“When I was out, there was a guy, his name is Aaron, and he owns the night club we used to go to often when we needed to cool our nerves. Anyway, he tells me that his dad used to be a Viper, which I didn’t know was one of your ex-rival gangs, by the way,” I give Jonah a pointed look. “He tells me his whole backstory, yadda yadda yadda, the point is that he tells me the Panthers are coming after me.” That grabs everyone’s attention real quick. Jonah’s eyes begin to bulge out of their sockets.
“What?” he growls out.
“Yeah, and I’m supposed to be the key fucking element on getting Amaya back into the gang because I’m a loophole. They couldn’t come directly after you, Amaya, Aaron, or your mother, but since I wasn’t mentioned in the agreement shit and they heard about me somehow, they want me. Aaron doesn’t know how they’re coming but that they are.
“Then I got to thinking, she wouldn’t have a choice, even if I was able to convince her to let them do whatever the fuck they wanted with me, that doesn’t mean they won’t come after anyone else. I’m just the little play toy apparently, I guess they thought it was good to start with the ‘love interest’ first, so in other words, she broke up with me for no damn reason. Not to mention that this new arrangement might put my ass in even more danger.” I grip the bench that I’m sitting on even tight as I feel a small wave of panic to hit me. Not here. Please not here.
“I might die before I graduate from high school. I might not go to college. I might not see Aaron go to his first day of school. I might not even get the chance to propose to Amaya. I wanted to talk to Dad one last time to see if I could forgive him. Work on it.” I start shaking and it’s like I can’t stop it before all the boys have their eyes on me, staring at me with nothing but concern on their faces.
My heartbeat begins to pick up in my chest and it’s like I can’t breathe. All I want to do right now is to breathe, but I can’t. Not worth a damn. All I can do is panic and reach out to grab Xavier.
“Help! Help!” I watch as he stares at me scared.
“Hey, look at me. You’re okay. You’re fine. We’re all right here, you aren’t going to die.” It doesn’t help me any, but I’m still latching on to him to the point that I know it has to hurt. “You’re okay,” he whispers to me before wrapping his arms around me, trying to comfort me and make me feel better. It usually would work, but this time, for some reason it’s not working.
“Shawn, I want you to take deep breaths, okay?” Ace asks of me, and I try to give him that but I can’t. I can’t do anything, but freeze and go limp in his Xavier’s arms.
My eyes flutter open as this intense pain begins to pound away at my head, the feeling of the hangover I had managed to avoid for the most part now hitting me. This hurts more than getting tackled by five of the biggest players on the field. I probably shouldn’t have gone as hard as I did, but I couldn’t help it much.
The good thing about my drinking was that it made it so I could loosen up a bit, especially when I got on that stage, played the guitar as I sang. I’ve never really done anything like that, but I loved it. When I was up there I could forget all the bad and not only enjoy myself, but get people to dance and enjoy something that I was doing.
It reminded me of the feeling I get playing football, or better yet, the feeling I got when I saw Aaron running around with my football on the day we found out I was his dad. When I saw him I got this even bigger sense of pride, it was like I was staring back on the day when I had first lifted a ball, at first fumbling around with it, but not him.
Aaron looked like it wasn’t his first time, and sometimes I just think about which position he would play if one day he told me football is a sport he’d want to try. I remember that I used to joke around with Amaya about him being a QB when he was just two years old and I saw him throwing things, but when I saw him run… he’s meant to run.
“Oh my god, you’re alright!” Xavier’s excitement meets my ears before he pulls me in for this bone-crushing hug. I narrow my eyes a bit when a burst of pain hits my head that much harder, it feels kinda like he’s trying to make my head explode as it would in outer space if I wasn’t wearing a helmet.
“Shit man,” I groan out while awkwardly clapping him on the back with my casted arm since my good arm is under him since he practically jumped on top of me. “You’re at a ten and I need to take you down to at most a five. My head is killing me.” Xavier slowly lets go of me before nodding his head and wiping at his face as he backs away from me.
I continue to stare at him, refusing to look around the nurse’s office that smells of cleaning supplies. I need some painkillers.
“Man, you scared the hell out of me. It was so damn hard to see you go limp in my arms. I just-”
“Please stop worrying. I’m okay. You see me, I’m right here talking to you.” Xavier nods while allowing his hands to drop to his sides but I can tell he doesn’t fully believe the words leaving my mouth. I sigh before shaking my head. “I feel like shit.” I sit up before swinging my legs over the side of the bed that I don’t know how I ended up on. “Does Mom know?”
“That you’re in here, yeah she knows. She isn’t too happy about the situation.”
“What did you tell her?” I ask a bit too eagerly. My voice goes high, making my head hurt that much more. Xavier comes closer before placing a hand on my shoulder.
“Calm down, alright? We don’t need a repeat of what happened ten minutes ago, now do we?”
“I was out for ten minutes?” Xavier nods before giving me a look that said ‘those are the words that just left my mouth’. “Okay, now back to what you told Mom.”
“I didn’t tell her anything besides the fact that you ended up passing out from a panic attack. Amaya, on the other hand, might have said something else because, at the moment, her and Mom are talking to each other.” My eyes go wide, she and Mom are talking to each other. Right now. What the hell are they talking about?
“Amaya knows?” I screech out.
“Yeah, Jonah ended up telling her the most of what happened, she’s a bit pissed, to say the least.” I slowly stand managing to almost fall since my body feels drained. I’ve never felt this drained before. Xavier wraps an arm around me as he offers me the support I need to not fall on my ass. “Should’ve heard the mouth on that one.”
“Couldn’t have been that bad.” Xavier lets out this loud laugh that makes me feel just a bit uncomfortable. I hope nobody hears him laughing like a lunatic because well, we look too similar for me to disown him.
“Oh really, would you like to put some money on that? Not even Mom was able to stop her fit of swears or get that angry look off her face that shows up when you push her to the brink.” Amaya rarely curses in front of Mom. She barely even makes snide remarks to me around her.
“I guess she was pissed, eh?”
“I was more than pissed actually,” Amaya’s small voice meets my ears; I find myself turning towards her. Those lips purse while her arms wrap around herself, she still doesn’t make eye-contact with me. “I was and still am ready to swing.”
“It’s good to know you’re talking to me again.” More voice comes out becoming a bit on the harder side, more than I had intended for her.
“It wasn’t like that, Shawn. I just can’t face you half of the time, it’s just- the majority of the time that we talk to each other one of us ends up kissing the other.” Xavier clears his throat. “All I want to do is keep the people I care about safe, not end up with the fucking Panthers on your ass. That’s all the shit I was trying to avoid in the first place,” her voice turns dark as she shakes her head, most likely still feeling disbelief.
I let go of Xavier to make my way back to the bed and I’m glad I’m on it when a wave of dizziness washes over me. “Can you give us a moment?” I ask him; he nods before walking past Amaya to go out into the hallway. I’m surprised the boys weren’t waiting in here. “Come closer, Wonder Babe.” She clears her throat before stepping closer, but just barely. “Amaya…”
Amaya moves until she’s just barely out of arm’s reach so I scoot a bit closer; I reach out to take her hand. Those steel eyes widen in shock as I pull her that much closer, her face only a few inches away from my own. If I wanted I could kiss her, but I don’t want to feel the low I was on yesterday all over again.
I feel her breath on my lips before I take my hand that’s holding her own from hers, now wrapping it around her waist. I lift her up to sit beside me on the bed as I slide my hand back into hers, it’s like our hands never once left each other.
“Are you okay?” she asks while looking me long and hard in the eyes.
“From the passing out like a little bitch, yeah, I’m cool.” I look down. Panic attacks are the worse.
“Don’t say that,” her voice is small but I can hear the demand in it.
“What, that I’m a bitch for like my anxiety get the best of me? I’m stating simple facts, and I wasn’t even scared of death before. But now? God, I don’t even think the idea of death was enough to make me do that…” I take in deep breaths. In and out, praying that it’ll give me the strength to admit what I already know to be facts. I throw my head back. “Truth is, I’m scared of dying without making things officially official between the two of us. I want you to be my wife and I want to raise Aaron under the same roof instead of having him go back and forth. I also want to one day have more children with you that we get to watch grow up. I want it all with you, Amaya, nobody else.
“So tell me what you want. What does all of this mean for you, for us?” I ask before squeezing her hand. Please say what I want you to. Please say you choose me. That you choose us. “Can we please do this?”
“What? You want to be with me and I want to be with you. Last night proved that and more. Please stop fighting me, Wonder Woman,” I whisper in her ear, placing a small kiss on her cheek after. I smile when I notice a blush creeping up on her face.
“If you’re not about to tell me that you love me and want to be with me I’m not sure I want to hear it.” Amaya lets out a small laugh, her head going to rest on my shoulder. I wrap my arm around her, our entwined hands furthest away from myself.
“Shawn, you know that I love you. I’m always going to love you-”
“I can hear the but coming,” I interrupt her before holding her a bit closer. I want her in my arms for the rest of my life.
“The but is that you are in danger right now because of me, so I want to be focused on getting you out of all this alive. You need to be safe from all this before we get involved again. Whenever we’re together it’s like you manage to make me fall for you all over again, and when you start talking about the future you want for us all I want to do is see that future too.
“The hardest thing for me to comprehend is that you don’t even understand all that you’ve done and have continued to do for not only me, but our family too. That hits hard. I fucking love you so much and you can’t even see how much you’re always going to mean to me, and I guess that’s my fault since all I’m good for is pushing you away,” Amaya’s voice cracks before her sniffle meets my ears. I look to her and see tears brimming those stunning eyes. I can’t take this anymore.
I slide back on the bed just a bit, lifting her up in the process so I can place her on my lap. I guide her arms around my neck before placing a hand on her cheek, now caressing it.
“I love when you claim every thought that runs through your head, you know that? But listen clear, I don’t want to sit here and watch you break. I’m okay. Stop worrying about me not being okay.” That’s my job, and it’s not like others aren’t making a big enough fuss. I just need her not to be like that. “You’re the only person that doesn’t look at me like I’m about to simultaneously combust. Well, you and Aaron that is, so please don’t start now. Don’t look at me like I’m going to snap soon. Look at me like I’m just Shawn.”
“I don’t want to watch the best person I’ve ever had in my corner to some assholes that are trying to drag me back into my past shit that I received a fair out from.” Amaya sniffles again before turning her face away from me.
I place a hand on her chin, forcing her to look me in the eye again. “Don’t do that anymore. Be real with me without hiding away what the thoughts do to you. I’ll always make it better,” I whisper while wiping away the stray tears that fell from her eyes. “Okay?” She doesn’t say anything, only nods her head.
“Now I don’t want to make you uncomfortable… but I want to talk about this whole Panther situation.” Of course, I would, I found out all this and it’s just a bit much for me.
I take in a deep breath when I see her lips part a bit at my words, she knew I was going to say something like that. She felt it coming. The problem is that she doesn’t want to accept that it’s a possibility that I’m going away for good which I don’t want to believe either. I don’t have a choice in accepting it though since I need to embrace my possibly limited time.
“What about it?” her voice turns frail. I look her dead in the eye, both of our eyes sad.
“God forbid something happens and those people try to use me against you-” I take a deep breath- “don’t go back to them. Please just let me go. Keep everyone we care about safe. Don’t let any of it sit on your shoulders. Let Aaron know how much he means. Let everyone know I told you to let me go. Now promise me. Please.” Amaya begins to shake her head before cupping my face in her hands.
“Amaya please,” I basically beg.
“Shawn, I’m not about to make a promise like that. I could never forgive myself, and Aaron, if he were to find out that I agreed to something like that he’d hate me and he would hate you too for trying to make me promise something like that. What I can promise is to work towards keeping who we care about safe and to be the one to handle the people that will not be placing a hand on you.” I smile before squeezing her to the point that I’m shocked she can still breathe.
“Okay, I guess I can live with that promise.”
“You didn’t have much of a choice.” I laugh.
“I like that fire that comes from you, it’s… different, in the best way possible,” she smiles to me before uncupping my cheeks; I immediately miss the warmth from her hands. “I have one more thing that I want to ask of you.”
“Oh really, what’s that?”
“For the weekend I wanted to take Aaron to meet my grandparents and basically tell them that he exists and pray that I don’t get into any problems. I think I should stretch a bit and lift a bit before doing it, what do you think?” Amaya shakes her head before her laugh meets my ears and makes my heart flutter in my chest in the slightest.
“I think you’ll be fine.”
“So does that mean you’re cool with me going?”
“Yeah, I’m cool with it, but I want you to bring someone with you so you’re safe, please,” I nod to her. I guess I can deal with that.
“Works for me, come with me?”
“Yeah, no. Your grandma still hates me and I don’t need to be on her own turf as she throws me some shady looks. She’d probably be pissed with me if you brought me around anyway, and you guys going gives me some time to pick up a few extra shifts-”
“I can help you with money if you need. I actually just made some quick cash yesterday and-” Amaya throws a hand over my mouth.
“I don’t need money from you. I can handle things, and do I want to know what you did for some cash?” I smile.
“While I was at the nightclub there was a guitar there and I was allowed to play. I sang a bit too and everyone liked it so much that they threw cash at me. I got $350 from them and $50 from the guy I was talking to. I was thinking about going back there to play more, I was told that I can come play whenever I want to,” Amaya nods with a small smile appearing on her face.
“I told you you were good.”
“Well I guess I should listen to you more.”
“Maybe you should, but not everything I say. I’ve said some things to you that I really regret,” she whispers before looking away. I watch her face and how pained it looks, the twinge of guilt that hits it and I know she’s sorry. She doesn’t need to continuously apologize to me, I’ve already forgiven her.
“You’ve already apologized to me over it, no need to bring it up. I’ve already forgiven you.”
“Well I’ve got to go, your mom would kill me if I didn’t give her the chance to speak to you before you go home.” She goes to stand but I stop her.
“Did you tell her about the Panthers?” Amaya takes a deep breath.
“No, I didn’t tell her. It’s not my place to tell your mom without giving you a head’s up that it’s coming. I think you should tell your mom as soon as you can, but don’t do it in here because she’s going to freak out. And one last bit of advice, when you go to see your grandparents though it’s tempting, do not tell them about the Panthers,” her voice turns dead serious.
“What, why?” I ask confused.
“The more people that you tell, the more likely it is that the Panthers find out that you know. If they find out, you’re fucked over that much more if they were to ever get their hands on you, they’ll torture you on information on how you found out and when they got that information they’d get rid of you.
“If you’re going to be telling people, you better be really damn careful about who you tell. Only the people that you know would keep whatever information they know a secret and would take that shit straight to the grave. Just think about that.” I nod before she hops up from my lap, not giving me the chance to grab her.
She stands in front of me for just a second, thinking something over for just a moment. Next thing she plants a small kiss on my lips and I place my hands on her hips as I close my eyes. Her hands move to my cheeks, caressing them for just a second, pulling back from me the next and moving out the door like nothing happened.
“Shoulda lasted longer.” A small pout appears on my face.
“Can I ask you for a favor?” I ask Xavier a few moments after we walk through the front door and when Mom is out of earshot. Xavier turns to me with an expectant look as he pulls the thin NYU hoodie from his arms that I haven’t seen before. “So um, this weekend I’m going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to tell/introduce them to Aaron-”
“Good luck with that,” he says with a small smile.
“Yeah, I’m definitely going to need it, especially when they find out just how long I’ve known about him.” I don’t think I’m ready for that, but what if this weekend is the only chance I get to tell them. “Anyway, I was wondering if you could come with me, well us. Amaya doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to venture off that way with just Aaron.” Xavier doesn’t say a word, most likely thinking things over.
“I’ll go. We haven’t seen them since a week before your birthday, but when you are getting into details about everything going on I don’t think I’ll be able to help you much.” I laugh with a small smile beginning to play on my lips. I already knew he wouldn’t be much help.
“I can handle that. Since he’s my kid the yelling lands on me.”
“That’s actually really responsible of you.” I take in a deep breath before reaching out to place a hand on his shoulder.
“I know, and when you have a kid you’re going to hopefully understand it so you can explain all this better than me.” Xavier smiles before clapping me on the back.
“I think you’re doing pretty damn well.” I smile too. I take my backpack off of my back, now holding it in my hand at my side. “Don’t change that about you.” He wanders off after, not saying another word to me.
“I won’t. Not while I have the choice,” I whisper as I head up to my room and decide that I’m going to take a nap before packing my overnight bag.