Chapter 4: Shawn
“So where are we going?” Dylan asks from his seat beside Cody in the back.
I click my seatbelt on before pulling out of my parking spot. I move down down the road to place some distance between us and the school building that seems to be my personal bit of heartbreak. That’s probably all I’m going to see when walking back in there tomorrow, and when I see her again, damn I know that’s going to be hard, especially when she turns her head or back away from me.
Damn it all. Now I’m amongst many children that have once been in my shoes, it’s actually more than half of the students, though I never thought I’d be one of them. Amaya is the type of person that likes to keep her private life from prying eyes, it’s our business only, but she wasn’t planning on that happening or seeing that stupid kiss. Hell, I didn’t think Amaya would be breaking up with me this time around either, I thought this relationship was going to work out. I needed it to, and I’m not giving up on her.
“As of now, to my house, the basement specifically,” I answer while watching the road as I cover that much more distance.
“What’s in the basement and could it possibly be used to scare the literal hell out of someone?” Cody’s voice meets my ears before I find myself letting out a much-needed laugh. Thank you, Cody, for this much. “What? I’m being a hundred percent serious. I could scare the hell out of the people that have pissed me off. I’ll make 'em squirm a bit.”
“I know you’re being serious, and I’m sure someone else could definitely be scared of things down there. I actually haven’t been there in just about two years or so maybe, Dad and I used to hang out down there,” I sigh at the end while pressing down on the gas just a bit more. I want nothing more than to be home.
“Isn’t your mom home today? I thought Dad gave her the day off since she’s been working all week long, picking up as many hours as she could,” Dylan tells me before I catch his hazel eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Well she wasn’t home earlier before I took Aaron to the doctor, but if she is home I don’t think she’ll be too mad at me,” I say without a single care.
“Speaking of the doctor, how did that go? I know Amaya was worried about the appointment,” Cody’s question makes my grip on the steering wheel tighten just a bit as I think about the doctor’s appointment. My knuckles turning a red as they do the majority of the time when I’m making a fist.
“You might want to hold him down,” Dr. Riverton had told me. Aaron stares down at the phone while watching the Flash, ignoring everything that goes on around him. I lift him up and into my lap before wrapping my arms around him. “Ready?”
I don’t say anything, just hold Aaron just a bit closer as the doctor moves closer holding the needle. I watch it myself and see how long and pointy it looks. To hell with that, I hate needles as much as the next person. I really don’t want to have to watch this or hear the sound of his cries that are sure to follow.
A single second was all it took, the moment that needle went into his arm his screams and crying fills the room to the point where I’m sure you can hear them all the way in the waiting room. Dr. Riverton moves away from us with the needle before bringing over a band-aid to hand it over to me, knowing that Aaron wouldn’t want him anywhere near him any longer. I open it to put it on the small bit of blood that has begun to come out.
“I’m sorry, bud,” I whisper in Aaron’s ear as he still continues crying. I kiss the top of his head as he shakes just a bit in my arms. “You okay?” I ask. He doesn’t say anything while holding onto my shirt with a tight fist. I feel bad, it sucks that he needs them, especially when I knew he’d end up crying. But it was for his own good so he doesn’t end up sick later.
“Things definitely could’ve been better… he had to get a flu shot after making sure there isn’t any health issue going on with him. They said something about preemies possibly having problems that go undetected for a while, but four years seems like an awfully long time to not notice if God forbid there actually was something wrong.
“Anyway, there wasn’t anything to be worried about since Dr. Riverton said Aaron has developed fine and there aren’t any problems so far. That boy is as robust as they come, but he’s a bit angry about getting that needle. All he did was nod goodbye to me while eating some of Amaya’s Grandma Marcie’s pancakes.” I sigh at the end as I pull onto my street.
“Sounds like you,” they say in unison.
“I know,” I find myself answering.
“I remember when we were younger and we went to the doctor together, they had to get your parents and the doctor to chase you down. You’re just lucky he didn’t end up running away, the whole time you were running all of the boys along with Amaya were cheering you on,” Cody says before I laugh at him.
I remember when I was running around that doctor’s office shirtless since Dr. Pierceton came towards me with a big ass needle. I wasn’t about to allow that needle to get me. It took two whole hours for them to catch me and by the time they did, the doctor said I’d have to come back another day. Mom and Dad weren’t very happy with me after that, especially when Xavier actually sat through to get those shots, but that moment he screamed… let’s just say that was it for me. Running was the only option.
“I hate the doctor’s office.”
“Everyone knows that, just like you hate going to the hospital too, but that doesn’t change the fact that those places, along with needles are essential for life.” I slowly nod my head.
“Doesn’t mean I want to listen to Aaron’s screams over them, it was so damn painful to sit through, and I was the one holding him down. It broke me.”
“That’s fair, we know it’s heartbreaking to hear those cries. You remember that time at his birthday when he hit his head?” Dylan asks before I find myself wincing.
It was just Aaron’s first birthday when we threw him his first party. I wanted to make sure Amaya could relax and enjoy the time with Aaron as he could too. Everyone enjoyed themselves and things went well until after cake.
“Down, down,” Aaron’s small voice filled each of our ears. Amaya places him down on his feet before he wobbles off on his two feet and falls after a few steps. He bounces right back up and moves just a bit more.
“Is he struggling with walking?” Cody asks from the side.
“I wouldn’t say struggling, I’d say taking his time to get things right. He gets just a few steps in before falling, but he doesn’t stop trying. Even when it means-” Amaya got cut off by the sound of something falling and a cry mixed with a scream. She stands up real quick before moving to where Aaron walked off to. “Estoy tan lo siento, bebé.”
I hear her before coming into the room to find her holding Aaron to her chest. Those beautiful grey eyes settling on Aaron’s deep green ones. One of her hands come up to feel the small bump that begins to form on his head as he flinches out of the way from her touch. She instead just places a kiss on it.
“You okay, Kangaroo?” Aaron doesn’t answer but instead reaches down to the ground. “You be careful, we don’t need you getting hurt anymore.” He only nods before wrapping his arms around her for a moment, letting her go the next. She places him down on his feet before he makes his way over to me.
“Sha,” he whispers while taking a handful of my pant leg.
I kneel down to his level before pulling him into my arms; his little giggle fills my ears. A smile plays at my lips as I lift up my hands for a single moment before they begin to dance on his stomach. His laughs filling the whole house I’m sure.
“Happy birthday, little man,” I laugh out as his little screams meet my ears. Aaron tries to crawl away a few times, but each time I make sure to pull him right back. “You’re not going anywhere,” I say while continuing the enjoyable torture on his stomach. I only stop when he begins to gasp for air.
“Sha, no more,” he gasps out while still giggling; I smile, lifting him up and into my arms before looking up to Amaya who smiles at us.
“It was his first birthday when it happened,” I answer with a sad smile. “Amaya made him feel better before I tickled him. He screamed his little head off.” I’m gonna miss seeing him around as much.
“You know things are going to get better, right?”
“Yeah, it’ll always get better,” Dylan adds on.
“Requesting a subject change.” They each let out a deep sigh.
“Alright, what are we going to be doing in that basement of yours because I’ve got to know if it’s worth not hanging out with Jen. She won’t be around too long but I also don’t want to deal with Mom and Dad,” Cody huffs out at the end.
“Nothing too extreme, I don’t need Mom screaming at me when she gets home,” I say before shaking my head. Not that I’d tell her this much, but she can really scare me. She does that calm anger better than anyone else and that moment when it’s directed to you… that’s just horrifying. “Wait, what’s going on with you and your parents that makes you not want to be with them?”
“Whenever Jen comes home to visit Mom brings out the old and embarrassing pictures of the two of us bathing together when I was a baby through the age of three. I hate them so much, and she knows I hate those pictures, but she loves them. I was just a defenseless child, unable to say what I wanted and was against. Jen finally put an end to it since bathing with a younger sibling began to get awkward for her while being a first grader. Anyway, Mom only brings it up every passing moment when we’re together, and it’s so overbearing.
“Not to mention Dad who goes on and on about all the times when she was younger and how she used to play soccer, danced ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop while growing up. Then he brings up how I did hip-hop for a bit, football for a few years, and now I play basketball and baseball. He says I don’t know how to stick to one thing and go steady with it, though he’s barely ever even showed up,” Cody grumbles out.
“You know at thirteen Jen said she wanted to be a D.A. but she’s gonna start as a lawyer. At least then I know I’ll have a good one if I ever find myself in a spot of trouble but moving on from that, whenever he’s around he’s always telling me that I should either follow in his footsteps or in hers.”
“Isn’t your dad a businessman that’s practically always traveling?” Dylan’s question is more a statement than anything. I just know Cody had to have nodded to that one.
I pull into my driveway as the conversation continues. “That’s true. Neil Asher, the son of Isaac Asher, founder of Asher Incorporated. Truth is, I don’t know what they do at his job beside telling him he’s got all of the business trips he needs to go on. Wasn’t around much when we were growing up, but he rushed home from Paris to come home and see her.”
“Well, she hasn’t been home in like a month or so,” Dylan’s voice of reason meets my ears. I find myself smiling. Amaya and I used to be each other’s voice of reason.
“I know, but even still… it’s not fair that he’s willing to come rushing home to see her when Mom and I go weeks at a time without seeing him around.”
“You know it’s alright to want to have him around, I used to want that with Dad. I mean, our parents, your dad and my own are business partners, it was one of the ways Dad got his opportunities to cheat on Mom. I used to constantly want that attention for me, Xavier, and Mom, it wasn’t fair that all those other women were getting him when he was supposed to be at home with his family.
“He got away with it for Lord knows how long before I found out, but Mom had already known, she just couldn’t let go of him… of the man she had once fallen in love with.”
“I didn’t know that they were partners… he never told me.”
“Yeah well, half of the times when you were dropped off over at my house or me at yours it was our father’s doing so, not to mention they always stuck around to speak to each other privately. But I don’t want anything to do with a job if it changes who I am as a person, I don’t even associate myself with the money Dad has tried sending to us. I don’t want it when I know money sometimes changes people, it changed him.
“Plus, I couldn’t imagine not having the chance to always be around Aaron or any other possible children I could end up having. I’d give anything for them, I haven’t even gotten the chance to meet them yet, but I could swear it.” I take the key out of the ignition before turning to face Cody and Dylan who only stare back at me. The two of them each hand me a smile.
“I wonder if that thought ever crossed Dad’s mind.”
“Come on, you know he cares about you. Your dad does what he does to provide for not only you but for your family also. Now let’s please be done with our problems until I can get lost in a wonderful world of junk food since I can’t get lost in a world of being with my girlfriend,” I say before Cody nods and pulls open the door for him. Cody and Dylan both slide out of the car as I throw open my car door.
I get out too and move to the front door as I take out the key to my house that has Robin on it out of my jean pocket. I remember begging Mom to get my house key custom made when I saw a Batman one, the blacksmith said there were many to choose from. I only wanted it as a remembrance for my old Nightwing costume that I got for Halloween one year.
Mom’s car isn’t in the driveway so wherever she is, it definitely isn’t here. I can’t really tell if it’s a relief to not have her here or not since I don’t want to talk about my brand new situation with Amaya that I’m not a fan of, but then she knows how to fix practically every problem that comes her way. Sadly, she has personal experience with being cheated on though that’s not what I meant to do, but on a technical term, it probably could be considered that much.
I shake my head before moving into the house as they trail behind and make sure to close the door behind them. This place feels empty without having Amaya, Aaron, and Jonah home. I miss them. My bed feels empty without having Amaya or Aaron beside me. The kitchen is my first stop before I let out a sigh.
This was Aaron and I’s favorite spot in the whole house. Sometimes before his bedtime, we come in here and have a small snack together while watching just one episode of the Flash. I don’t let him know that I’m starting to get tired of it because, with him, I love that show, it’s more time the two of us get the chance to spend together.
I find myself in front of the fridge before pulling it open to get a Dr. Pepper along with taking out a bowl of green grapes that has my name on it; I smile. I know had to have just been brought today by Mom, she knows I love them just as much as her. I’d bet there’s another bag hidden in the fridge downstairs.
I move over to the island to place the bowl down before moving over to the pantry beside the stove to grab a bag of Cheez Doodles. I got a stock of them for the next time Aaron was supposed to be over but I guess one bag can be eaten with the amount I have.
“Want some?” I ask while holding the bag up. They each shrug before I toss the bag to Dylan who catches it and just tears the bag open. “Want a drink?” I pop a grape into my mouth as they each nod.
I chew before swallowing and letting out a sigh. I move back over to the fridge to pull out an orange soda for Dylan and a Dr. Pepper for Cody. Dylan likes to stick to fruit-flavored sodas and doesn’t really like to drink Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola, or Pepsi. I hand them each their drinks before they say a thank you. I don’t say anything as I move back into the fridge and reach to the back for the whipped cream.
“Whatcha gonna use that for?” I don’t give an answer as I just shake the can before taking it to my mouth, spraying until my mouth is about to overflow. I lick my lips clear of the substance before spraying just a bit more in my mouth.
“Alright, grab the Cheez Doodles and head for downstairs,” I say while pointing to the door across from us. I place the whipped cream back in the fridge before closing it with my Dr. Pepper still in hand. I follow them to the stairs.
The door creaks open before I reach to flick on the light switch that makes it so there’s less of a chance for me to fall down the once light blue rugged stairs. The fourth stair down has a deep brown stain that was made from my spilling some iced tea out of my cup when I tripped down the stairs.
Mom had come rushing to me when she heard me fall before Dad was soon to follow, I was about six or so when it happened. That carpet hasn’t been the same since though I felt better the moment Mom wiped away my tears as she hugged me tightly.
I move further down the stairs until being met with a projector screen that hasn’t been touched in years, a punching bag that I haven’t punched in about a year and a half, bean bag chairs, and a pair of nunchucks. That’s just me naming things from first glance, but there’s more than just that.
When walking down the stairs all the way and turning to round a corner you can see a treadmill and weights, a mini gym of sorts.
“You said this was your hangout with your dad?” I nod. “What the hell would a kid do down here?” Cody looks around as he asks his questions before I let out a laugh.
“Well, Dad, Xavier, and I used to train down here, mostly for football. I used to be a small kid and now because of the training of sorts I got stronger, but football was something that Dad and I were able to have a connection with. He played in high school and in college, but that’s not all this was for.” I move over to the punching bag.
“Dad always thought that I needed to know some sort of self-defense too. Running wasn’t good enough, so I picked up some lessons from Dad with the punching bag and…” I trail off before moving over to the nunchucks and lifting them up. I do some minor tricks before putting them down once again. “Then Amaya came and gave me some pointers too. Being taken down by her was not fun, especially when she flipped me. She did it so damn effortlessly.” I let out a small laugh.
“She does scare the hell out of me sometimes,” Dylan blows out before Cody and I nod.
“Imagine being on her bad side.” They’re hands each goes to rest on my shoulders. “It’s fine. I’m going to be fine.” Not so reassuring to myself. “I’m not letting go of her. I’ve lived without her once… and that wasn’t life. Every damn night I dreamed of her, I still dream of her. This isn’t going to waste,” I whisper while reaching into my pocket once again to pull out a velvet box. It sits in my hand for a single moment before it gets yanked out of my hand.
“This is beautiful,” Dylan says while staring at it. I turn to face him as Cody stares at it too, the sapphire and opal birthstones meeting my eyes as they sit atop a silver band. It’s gorgeous and meant for the most gorgeous woman I know.
“It’s her birthstone along with Aaron’s, I thought she’d like it, but I guess I might never get an answer to that,” I sigh at the end before shaking my head. Don’t think about her. Stop thinking about her. Easier said than done. I can’t just turn off the way I feel because she doesn’t want to talk to me. I can’t ignore the emotion between all I feel and the experiences I have shared with her. That’s not how love works.
“You know, you’re not as much fun without her. You’re so gloomy and sad, this needs to be changed very, very soon.” At least we’re each in agreement. “How’d you get her back in October?”
“I told her I loved her and that I wasn’t going to just give up on her or us. Aaron was actually a major factor in us getting back together though it was a matter of time since we were sneaking around and-” I cut myself off. They don’t need to know about those secret shared moments… they’re too personal. Private for just us.
“Wait a second, how long was the sneaking around going on for?” My cheeks begin to burn as I’m just sure they’re changing to become a crimson.
“Do you remember that party we went to a few years ago? Aaron was just five months old give or take.” They both nod. “Well, that was when we had the first slip up with the breakup and we kissed… a lot. Then it stopped for a bit and picked up a month or two before our sophomore prom-” I stop abruptly. Why is it so damn hard?
“Isn’t that the thing you guys left early from?” I nod slowly.
“Anyway, we continued on with all of it until my last birthday. I didn’t want anything much for it, I made a wish for her… and she knew. I don’t know how she figured it out, but I’m glad she did. So the sneaking around was on and off,” I force out at the end as I just see a picture of Amaya’s smile. The thing that has kept me moving forward for so long and ever since Aaron came along the picture I once saw changed. Now it has him in her arms as they both laugh, eyes bright and full of light.
Aaron is what propels me into making all the necessary changes that I need. I mean, the two of us created a life that has impacted both me and Amaya in so many different ways. That boy couldn’t be more perfect than what he is. I’m glad that I was given the chance to know him as my son.
“You know, that kinda sounds like us,” Cody says with a small smile while glancing to Dylan who stares down at his shoes. His hazel hair beginning to fall into his eyes before he does the unnatural for him and uses his hand to move it. “I know I’m the one who tried to keep it a secret and I’m not about to ask you who it was that didn’t want to make things official for the pair of you sooner, but it’s risky business. If you find yourself or her in a position where you get closer and end up in something that’s just sexual or not how it’s supposed to be… don’t do it to yourself.”
“I can’t just-”
“I know you can’t let go of her. I’m not asking that of you. I’m just making sure that you think about what’s best for the each of you. Don’t let her push you out of her life, but don’t allow yourself to be used, or your heart to be broken beyond prepare. There’s a chance that later on in life it’ll be your time again.” I force myself to look away from Cody, not accepting what he’s just said though I know there’s a point to it, not to mention that he’s only trying to do what’s best for me as a good friend.
“I don’t feel like I can do this to myself, especially with Aaron in the picture. God, I wish I could redo this day,” I sigh out at the end before hearing a door slam shut and voice follow close behind. “Shit,” I hiss out.
“What’re you swearing for, you’re the one that sent the invite,” Cody points out before I turn to glare daggers at him. My hands being shoved in my pockets.
“Didn’t think they’d actually come-”
“Daddy?” My eyes narrow just a bit before Dylan and Cody each turn their head to face the stairs, hearing exactly what I heard. My eyes go wide as I make my way towards the stairs and run up them.
“Aaron?” I call out. I notice that familiar head of dirty blonde curls on the other side of the island. “How’d you get here, bud?” I ask while moving over to him, his arms wrap around my waist to hold me as I wrap my arms around him too. What’s going on? Aaron pulls on my shirt to get me down to his level, I crouch down.
“Mommy… she sad though, I don’t know why. Eyes all red. She okay?” My heart shatters and crashes down to my stomach.
“Is she still here?” I ask quickly before he nods.
“She outside and said needed to speak to you really quick. Wouldn’t come inside though. She acting weird. Why?” Those eyes of the purest little boy I’ve ever met look up to me with concern for his mother. The woman I’ve managed to hurt without trying and for once I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. Lying isn’t an option for me.
“How about I find out?” I know she’s not. Aaron nods before I ruffle up his hair. “Okay, go downstairs with Uncle Cody and Dylan.” He lets go of me to move over to the stairs and disappears.
I find myself moving to the front door and pulling it open to reveal a blank eyed Amaya with tear stains on her normal smooth caramel colored skin. Those grey eyes look up to me and I see that strong storm that was once there is now dissolving and looks as though it was never even there. I did this to her. I fucking hate myself for it. When she turns away from me I find myself wanting to reach out to her and take her in my arms, but that’s not even an option anymore, is it?