“I can’t believe you got yourself suspended,” Dad said in disbelief, eyes on the road ahead of him as he drove, “what the hell were you thinking?? Clearly, you fucking weren’t when you decided to beat up someone in the middle of a school hallway!”
I stayed silent, listening to my dad rant about my behaviour. Needless to say, he was pissed at me. I crossed my arms across my chest, leaning back against the passenger seat as I looked out the car window, watching the trees and scenery whip by.
After getting my bloody nose cleaned up at the nurse’s office, I had gotten lectured by the principal in his office. He had also called my dad to tell him what happened and to come to pick me up because, for my poor behaviour, the principal had given me a two-week suspension. I honestly could care less though, because I was satisfied enough with beating the crap out of Carter for what he did to Adrien. He had deserved it even if the principal didn’t see it. And clearly, my dad couldn’t see it either.
“You know, I had to pull away from my work, right? I drove all the way from work to come deal with you and your fucking stupidity,” Dad shook his head, fuming in his seat, “I am disappointed in you, Preston. Why the hell would you get in a fight at school, huh? That is so unlike you to do that. I raised you better. I thought I raised you better than to lay a hand on another person. I didn’t raise you to be a violent person. I—”
“Okay, shut the hell up, would ya?” I finally snapped, turning my attention to dad with a scoff, “Carter fucking deserved that beating, and I would do again. I don’t regret what I did, not at all actually because he forced himself on Adrien, and ultimately, tried to ruin Adrien’s life alongside Marci, because that bitch was angry at him for dating me. So yeah, I think me beating him to a pulp is justified.”
Dad didn’t say anything at first. He kept his eyes focused on the road, silence enveloping the car, and for the next few minutes, all I could hear was the soft purr of the engine.
Then, after a few minutes, just as we turned onto our street, he replied, “I understand, but violence isn’t going to get you anywhere with a situation like that. You’re just going to end up in more trouble. I’m grounding you, for two weeks, until your suspension is over.”
“What?!” My eyes widened, “Dad—”
“I’m serious,” He gave me a look just as we pulled up into the driveway, “for two weeks. You’re not allowed to go anywhere, and no one is allowed to come over. I’m taking away your video games. You will focus on your schoolwork. I don’t care if you’re eighteen. You live under my roof, and you follow my rules. Do you understand me?”
“That’s so unfair,” I groaned, shaking my head in disbelief.
“Well, life isn’t fair, Preston.”
With that, Dad shut off the car and got out. I stepped out of the car after him, begrudgingly followed him to the front door, and inside the house. I didn’t care if he was grounding me. I was going to visit Adrien today. That had been my intention before Carter got in the way and I ended up in the principal’s office, and if he has to ground me for another two weeks because of it, then I didn’t care.
I kicked off my shoes and coat, watching as dad set the keys onto the shelf before he disappeared into the kitchen. I dropped my bag onto the bench, waited a few seconds, listening to my dad shuffle around the kitchen. When I knew that he wouldn’t come back out and notice me leaving, I quickly put back on my shoes and coat. I grabbed the car keys off the shelf and hurried my way back out the door.
I hurried my way over to the car, unlocked the doors, and slid into the driver’s seat. Just as I put on my seatbelt and jammed the key into the car, switching on the engine, the front door opened and I heard my dad calling out my name.
I ignored him, and without hesitating, I backed out of the driveway. I drove as fast as I could without getting a speeding ticket, all the way to Adrien’s house, heart hammering in my chest. It only took about ten minutes or so, before I was pulling up into Adrien’s driveway. Meghan’s car was gone, but the lights looked like they were on the house through the windows, indicating Adrien was likely to be home.
I parked my car and got out, rushing over to the front door. I rang the doorbell a couple of times, but when I didn’t get an answer, I got worried and then reached into the hanging plant that hung beside the door, where they kept their spare key. I unlocked the door and stepped inside the house.
“Adrien?” I called out, briefly glancing around the living room as I kicked off my shoes. It was weirdly silent in the home, but the lights were on, Ruby and Shelby sleeping soundly on the couch.
With furrowed brows, I walked further into Adrien’s house, wandering down the hallway to his bedroom, but he wasn’t in there either. The lights were off but his lamp was on, and his bed was unmade. When I stepped into his room and looked around, I noticed several sheets of paper lying on his desk. I walked over and picked up the sheets of paper, my eyes widening when I realized they were all letters, and they had different people’s names written on top of them.
A letter to his mom, Asher, Daniel, Kourtney, Joseph, Phoebe, Jackson, and lastly, me.
I didn’t have to read much to know what these were. Dread pooled in my stomach, fear taking over as I heard a loud clang that echoed into my ears, and quickly stuffed the letters into my coat pocket, rushing out of Adrien’s bedroom.
“ADRIEN?!” I called out frantically, my heart pounding so loud it echoed in my ears. I quickly realized that the bathroom light was on, and I hurried over, but when I got there, my heart stopped.
Blood. There was blood dripping on the floor. A sharp blade laid on the floor by Adrien’s feet, and when I looked up, the sight was absolutely horrific, I stopped breathing. Adrien stood over by the bathroom sink, sobbing in complete distress, both wrists bloody. I was almost frozen in place, eyes wide in shock and panic. My heart pounded fast, my hands trembled, and I was close to crying. I nearly wanted to faint at the sight, but I didn’t, and I quickly snapped out of my shocked state and ran over to him, grabbing the towels off the hook next to the door.
“Oh my god, Adrien?! What did you do?!” I panicked, hurrying over. Adrien’s gaze snapped to me, and he took several steps back, dodging me as I went to grab him. The second time I reached for him, I grabbed Adrien’s wrists and pulled him to me, using the towels to put pressure on his injuries. Adrien screamed at me and sobbed harder, instantly trying to pull away from me.
“STOP! LET GO OF ME!” He cried, desperately trying to yank his wrists away while kicking at my legs to try to make me let go, but I didn’t.
“Adrien please, don’t do this to yourself okay??” I pleaded, fighting back the tears in my eyes, “please, just let me help you.”
Adrien squeezed his eyes shut. He shook his head, crying and hyperventilating. He took short, shallow breaths, unable to calm himself down.
“Just let me die. Please. I just want to die,” He cried desperately, yanking at his arms once more, “I-I don’t want to live like this, please, Preston. Just leave me to die—”
“I’m not letting you die, you hear me?” I said firmly. Adrien stopped trying to yank his arms away from me, but still, he cried even harder in emotional and physical agony. A tear rolled down my face from seeing him so distressed, and with shaking hands, I pulled my phone out from my pocket and quickly dialled 911.
When they answered, I requested an ambulance, told them the address, and told them everything that happened. When I finally hung up the phone, Adrien was still crying, but luckily he had stopped fighting me.
“I-I don’t feel good,” Adrien sobbed, his breathing still quick and shallow, “I-I feel dizzy, a-and sick—”
“Come here,” I said gently, pulling Adrien to me. He let me pull him into an embrace, and I slowly slid down until he was sitting on the floor, Adrien sitting between my legs as he buried his face in my chest, and continued to cry. I tried to comfort him the best I could, without letting my emotions get the best of me. I didn’t want to start crying, not when Adrien was in pain and in desperate need of attention.
When the ambulance came, the paramedics brought the gurney over to the bathroom, where they helped Adrien up onto his feet, and laid him down onto the gurney. I called Meghan while they were settling Adrien on the gurney. I told her what happened, and she replied to tell me saying that she was already on her way to meet us at the hospital and then hung up.
When they got Adrien situated in the ambulance, I was allowed to ride with them, so I did. I sat on the seat right beside Adrien’s gurney, and the entire ride to the hospital, I stayed silent, watching Adrien as he laid on the gurney, looking up at the ceiling of the ambulance with tears in his eyes.
The moment we arrived at the hospital, they had registered Adrien in triage and then, shortly after, they took him straight to a room where they cleaned and stitched up Adrien’s wrists. When Meghan arrived at the hospital, the doctor had asked Meghan and me a few questions in regards to what happened, as well as Adrien’s medical history. They had also given Adrien a sedative to calm him down before they stitched him up.
Now, while Adrien was being treated for his injuries, I stood outside of the room, Meghan standing with me. She was crying. Tears rolled down her face, and no matter how many times she wiped at her eyes, the tears kept falling.
“I c-can’t believe this happened...” Meghan cried, covering her mouth with the sleeve of her shirt, “I-I was going to be home late...! H-He could have been dead on the bathroom floor by the time I got home! How could I not see this coming?? How could I not see that my own son was hurting??”
“Hey...it’s not your fault,” I frowned, biting my lip. Meghan shook her head.
“It is partly my fault...! I should have known something was wrong. He—he had been acting out, he told me he wasn’t feeling well this week and w-wanted to stay home—I should have known that he was depressed. I-I should have paid more attention to him! Because if I did, I could have prevented this—”
I opened my mouth to say something, but I was cut off when the door opened, and the doctor stepped out of the room Adrien was in. The doctor walked over to us, and immediately Meghan wiped away her tears and tried to recollect herself.
“You’re Meghan Aguilera, Adrien’s mother, is that right?” The doctor asked. Meghan nodded.
“Y-yes. That’s me. Is my son okay? H-how is he?”
“He’s stable,” The doctor replied, “he was in a lot of emotional distress, so we gave him a sedative to help him calm down. We were able to stitch up his injuries, though he’ll likely be in pain for a while until the wounds heal and the stitches come out, but he should recover fully with little to no nerve damage.”
“Oh, that’s good to hear,” Meghan nodded tearfully, “what...what happens now?”
“Well, Adrien is sleeping right now because of the sedative. Once he wakes up, I’ll have a psychologist come down to speak to him, give him a brief mental health assessment. After that, they’ll likely move him to the psychiatric ward in the hospital to keep an eye on him for a few days, but the psychologist will tell you more about the hospital stay and treatment plan for Adrien after she talks to him.”
“A-alright, thank you,” Meghan managed a smile.
“Of course,” he nodded and smiled at Meghan in return, “if you have any further questions or concerns, let a nurse know. I’ll be back in a bit to check on Adrien, but for now, you’re free to stay with Adrien until he wakes up.”
We thanked the doctor one last time before he walked off, and I held the hospital room door open for Meghan. She thanked me and stepped in, and I followed suit, wandering into the hospital room behind her.
When I closed the door, my eyes landed on Adrien’s sleeping figure. He was laying on his side on the bed, fast asleep blanket pulled up over him, but I could see the bandages that were now wrapped around Adrien’s wrists. The sight made me frown, a mix of emotions hitting me in the chest, but the strongest ones had been guilt and fear. Guilt that I hadn’t been there for him when he needed it, and fear of what could have happened if I hadn’t decided to go see Adrien at the time that I did.
If I had gone earlier, he could have waited for me to leave to do this. If I arrived later, he could have been dead. Fuck, I couldn’t imagine Adrien dead. If he had died, I would have gone insane. I couldn’t not have Adrien in my life—I needed him alive with me, and just the thought that he had been close to death had my chest squeezing painfully tight, and tears piercing my eyes.
Meghan stood over by his bedside, tears rolling down her face once more as she brushed her fingers through Adrien’s hair, taking in the state that her son was in. Just watching her, and watching her face distort into an expression of agony, made it nearly impossible to keep my tears at bay. The tears rolled down my face, and I quickly wiped them away as I took a shaky breath.
“He—uhm...” I started, needing to pause slightly as I choked on my words. Meghan lifted her gaze to me, “I...before I found Adrien, I—I found these letters in his bedroom, on his desk....one of them was for you.”
“Let me see it,” Meghan said without hesitation. I reached into my pocket, pulled out the letters, and handed her the one that was written to her. Meghan took the letter from me, quietly reading it as she wiped away her tears.
Then, Meghan started sobbing. She covered her mouth with her hand, her other hand shaking as she held the letter. She squeezed her eyes shut as she cried, the hardest I had ever seen her cry in the years that I’ve known her, so I quickly walked up to her and pulled her into a tight hug.
Meghan hugged me back, her head resting against my shoulder as she cried. We both stood in silence, no words exchanged, and we just hugged. I didn’t know how long we stood there and hugged, but once Meghan was able to control her crying, she let go and stepped back, wiping the tears from her eyes as she exhaled a deep breath.
“I should probably call my dad...I kind of left the house when I wasn’t supposed to,” I told her. Meghan nodded her head, flashing me a tearful smile.
“Yeah, you should do that. Thanks for getting to Adrien on time...Preston. I-I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t gone to see him...”
“Me neither...” I sighed, nodding my head.
I pulled out my phone, stepping back out of the room and into the hall, and dialled my dad’s number. After only two rings, he answered the phone.
“Hey, dad. Uhm, I’m sorry that I left earlier. I was—”
“Meghan already texted me and told me what happened,” Dad cut me off before I could ramble, and I released a breath that I didn’t know I was holding.
“Oh...didn’t realize she did.”
“Yeah, she told me not too long ago...” Dad sighed heavily. There was silence between us for a few seconds before he spoke up again, “are you okay...? How are you holding up?”
“Uh...not really,” I paused, brushing my fingers through my hair, “but he’s okay now...well, not okay but...at least he’s safe.”
“I would come visit but seeing as you took the car, I won’t be able to. Just shoot me a text to let me know and keep me up to date with what happens with Adrien, and when you’ll be coming home, alright?”
“Yeah, I will.”
“Alright, good. I love you, kiddo.”
“I love you too, dad.”
When he hung up the phone, I lowered my phone from my ear and took a deep breath, squeezing my eyes shut to keep my tears at bay. I couldn’t cry, at least not right now. Meghan and Adrien didn’t need to see me cry, not when they needed the most support right.
So, I quickly regained my composure, wiped away the tears, and walked back into Adrien’s hospital room.
It had been just over an hour. Meghan and I had hung around the hospital room while Adrien slept, Meghan sitting on one of the chairs next to his bed. Me, I had been pacing around the room while exchanging text messages with Asher, because I had texted him to tell him that Adrien was in the hospital. Asher had been the one who was there for Adrien this entire time, so I thought that it was best to let him know, but I didn’t tell the others yet.
Just as I finished typing a message to Asher, I heard a movement, and when I glanced over to Adrien, I noticed that he shifted against the bed. He reached his hand up to rub his face, only to groan from the pain in his wrists. Meghan was up from her chair the moment she saw that Adrien was awake, and was at his bedside in seconds.
“Hey, sweetheart...how are you feeling?” She asked softly. Adrien was quiet for a moment. He blinked in a slight daze, eyes still laced with sleep.
“Mm...my wrists hurt,” He murmured, carefully using the back of his hand to rub the sleep from his eyes.
“The doctor said you’d be in a bit of pain,” She said. gently lacing her fingers through Adrien’s hair. Adrien relaxed to Meghan’s soothing touch, his eyes squeezing shut momentarily, “so just take it easy, alright sweetie? Seems like you’ve been through quite a lot this past little bit...”
“I-I’m sorry...” Adrien whispered shakily, biting his lip as tears rimmed his eyes, but Meghan was quick to reassure him.
“Hey...it’s alright hun...it’s okay, you don’t have to apologize,” She said softly, leaning down to kiss Adrien’s forehead, “it’s not your fault, okay? You’re hurting, and I understand.”
Adrien nodded. He took a deep breath, relaxing as Meghan wiped away the tears that rolled down his face.
“I’m just going to go get the doctor, and tell him that you’re awake,” Meghan kissed Adrien’s forehead once more, “I’ll be right back, alright?”
Adrien nodded once more. Meghan hesitantly left the room after that, and the moment the door closed behind her, silence filled the room. When I tired my gaze from the door Meghan left through and glanced over to Adrien, I noticed his brief gaze, before he looked away with a frown.
I bit my lip, looking at him for a moment before I wandered over to his bedside, and sat down on the edge of the bed.
“I-I...uhm...didn’t think you’d still be here...” Adrien murmured quietly, “I thought you would have gone home...”
“Gone home? Why would I leave you at a time like this?” I frowned. Adrien bit his lip.
“I-I don’t know. I-I just—”
“No, I get it. I’ve been kind of an asshole to you lately...so I understand why you wouldn’t expect me to still be here,” I told him. Adrien remained silent, refusing to look at me. I took a deep breath, falling silent for a moment before I spoke up again.
“I...I’m really sorry, Adrien. And I know sorry isn’t going to cut it, because I’ve been a horrible friend and a horrible partner to you. I should have been there for you while you were struggling. I shouldn’t have let it go this far. You shouldn’t have had to suffer like this alone,” I shook my head, tears blurring my vision, “I could have prevented this if I had just been a better person to you—we’ve been friends for so long, I—I should have known better—”
“I—I’m not mad at you...Preston,” Adrien whispered, cutting me off before I could ramble, “Yes...I’m hurt that you had thought I would ever cheat on you...but, I get it. I’m not mad at you for that. Part of me feels like I deserve this and that you deserve better than me...and honestly, you couldn’t have prevented this. Maybe you could have made me hold on longer, but then again, Carter still would have kissed me, and that video still would have gone out. Marci still would have tried to find another way to break us apart...it hurts that you didn’t trust me and that you shut me out, but what they did to me hurts more.”
Tears rolled down Adrien’s face. He used the back of his hand to wipe them away, but still, they kept falling. Watching him cry, made the tears in my eyes fall, and we both just ended up sitting there and crying. I climbed into bed with him, and Adrien let me, and as soon as I crawled into the bed beside him, I wrapped my arms around him in a tight hug.
Adrien clung to me to the best of his ability, his head pressed against my chest, and we just laid there, holding each other, while crying our eyes out.
“You didn’t deserve this. If anything, you deserve better than me. You’re such an amazing person, Adrien, you deserve so much better than what Marci, Carter, and I have done to you. You deserve to be happy, to live your life the way you want to,” I spoke shakily, rubbing Adrien’s back softly, “Carter and Marci are horrible people for what they have done to you. God, I just want to go and beat up Carter all over again. Thinking about what he did to you makes me so fucking angry.”
“Y-You...you beat up Carter?” Adrien asked, lifting his head from my chest as he looked up at me. I nodded my head, gently reaching up to brush the tears from Adrien’s cheeks, and under his eyes.
“Mhm, you bet I did. Fucking asshole deserved it.”
Adrien laughed. I didn’t expect him to, but he did. His laugh was tearful and shaky, as he was still crying, but hearing him laugh painted a ghost of a smile on my lips. I hadn’t heard his laugh in what felt like forever, and getting to hear it, despite the fact that he was also crying, made my heart feel a little bit lighter.
“I...I wish I could have got to see that.”
“Yeah? Maybe I’ll do a repeat, just so you get to watch him get his ass kicked by me.”
Adrien smiled softly. He didn’t say anything after that, and his smile didn’t last very long before he was resting his head back against my chest, his eyes closing. But it was okay, just having him in my arms was enough. Knowing that he was safe and alive, was enough for me.