Aiden immediately awoke. His vision was blurry, as if he'd been blinded by rave lights. Closing them didn't work. He had to blink rapidly as a light shone in his face. The sweet smell of soft drinks and the bitter taste of alcohol hung onto his tongue. As he lay back onto the bed, he made out someone in front of him rushing to the door and sitting back down.
“Guys, he’s awake!”
As his vision cleared, Aiden saw Alison in front of him. She looked tired, like she’d been sitting there for a week without a moment’s rest. He tried to sit up, moving a slight inch above the pillow beneath him. More footsteps rushed into the room.
“I’m in one piece. Looks like you owe me a thousand drinks, Alison,”
Alison just stared at him. Her eyebrows narrowed as she gave a cheeky grin.
Damien walked over to the bedside and knelt down towards him. Aiden could make out patches of sweat all over his scalp. “You gave us a scare, mate, how are you feeling?”
Aiden turned his head, cracking his neck as he moved. “Tired. What happened to me?”
Alison stood up and walked to his bedside. “Well, Chad finished the race, and you didn’t come back after twenty minutes, he told us where you were. Damien, Jimmy and me helped you out of that warehouse. It wasn’t easy, believe me.”
Aiden’s teeth gritted as his fist clenched. “He set me up.”
Damien looked puzzled. “What?”
“Chad, the son of a bitch set me up. He lured me to that warehouse and just left me there.”
Alison sighed. “Can you stand?”
Aiden shrugged. “I can try.” He pulled the sleeve from his hoodie down, revealing some makeshift bandages made from kitchen paper and duct tape. He looked around.
“I break my arm?”
Damien chuckled. “No. It’s weird, it’s not broken, but it was slightly burnt when we found you”
“Do you remember anything that happened when Chad raced you?”
Aiden shook his head. “No, I don’t remember much of anything. I just need some time to clear my head, what time is it?”
Damien brought over a cup of water, which Aiden took out of his hands. “Three in the morning.”
Aiden dropped the cup, spilling cold water all over the floor. “Shit, I gotta get home. Sorry about that, Damien.”
Damien sighed. “Don’t worry dude, it’s not the worst mess I’ve cleaned up tonight.”
Alison held her arm out and put it around his shoulder. “Come on, buddy.”
Aiden nodded as Alison grabbed his shoulder and helped him move towards the doorway. However, with one move of her hand touching his bandage, Aiden let out a scream of agony like no other.
Alison freaked out as Aiden fell to the floor, grabbing his arm. He felt like there was a thousand needles all pushing into him at the same time. It was almost unbearable. “Shit, I’m sorry Aiden, are you okay? What did I do?”
“I think you might have pressed on it a little, don’t worry Alison, just let me make it to the door myself.”
Alison put her face in her hands and turned her voice to a whisper, nodding. “Okay”
Mustering all the strength he could, Aiden picked himself up and waddled towards the door, grabbing onto whatever he could to stay off the ground. Damien held the door open for him.
“Your dad is waiting outside, by the way. We had to call someone.”
Aiden nodded at Damien as his eyes fell and he looked at the floor. They walked into the sitting room. Empty bottles and spilt drink littered the floor. Aiden sniggered as he saw Danny passed out on the couch next to Alex, who couldn’t stop smiling.
Damien picked up his car keys. “Alison, if you need someone to drop you home, I can drive you.”
“That’d be great actually, thanks dude.”
Aiden turned to her. “Where’s Michael?”
She walked ahead of him. “Had to leave early, I told him to go ahead,”
“Can we ride with you actually? I think this one needs a bed.”
“He can sleep in mine tonight. He’s a nightmare to drive around normally, never mind when he’s drunk.”
Alex looked down at Danny; at this point he was fast asleep. “I’ll stay with him.”
Damien turned, heading for the front door. “Suit yourself.”
The four of them walked out to the driveway, where Andrew Malcolm waited for him in his car, not looking at all impressed. His eyes glared over at Aiden, with his face as sour as a lemon on a summer’s day.
Aiden opened the door and sat down in the front, and upon closing the door and fastening his seatbelt, the car drove off like a shot.
Aiden kept looking out the window. “Had a little accident, don’t worry, it’s fine, I’ve had worse.”
“You’ve had worse?”
He shook his head vigorously. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Andrew sighed heavily. “You can’t just go around, justifying injuries like that!”
Andrew took a deep breath and sighed. “Like it’s nothing. Aiden, being out in a storm like that is dangerous for anyone, let alone you. Imagine what could have happened if your friends hadn’t found you.”
“They would have found me eventually.”
“Yeah, eventually. Like sunrise eventually?
“It doesn’t matter, I’m safe now aren’t I?”
“Yes, it does matter Aiden. Why were you out at a warehouse?”
“Chad raced me. He set me up, you want someone to blame, blame him.”
“What? You were doing parkour in a storm?”
“He wouldn’t get off my back, Dad. I had to do it. Him and Scarlett wouldn’t leave me alone. You want someone to blame, blame them.”
“I’m not blaming anyone, and I don’t care about Chad and Scarlett, you’re my son, they...
…They are what?”
Andrew shook his head. “Doesn’t matter, they’re just kids to me. My point is, you’re the one I need to make sure is safe. I want to trust you Aiden. You’re seventeen now, and when I hear you’re making decisions based off peer pressure, it makes me question my trust a bit.”
Aiden sighed heavily. “It won’t happen again Dad, don’t worry.”
“Aiden, I know you meant well, sticking up for Alison, but I don’t think she was the only reason you were out there tonight.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think you wanted to prove yourself a bit, make a point to Chad, Scarlett, the others, show yourself that you’re as good as they are. I think you were looking for some attention.”
Aiden’s fist clenched. “I did it to stick up for my friend Dad, that’s all, nothing else”.
“Whatever your good intentions were, you know yourself you would love to prove Chad wrong.”
“Well, who wouldn’t? He just has this ability of getting under your skin, he never stops going on about how great he is every time you’re around him. Wouldn’t you want to prove a point to someone like that?”
Andrew looked at him with sincere eyes. “That’s not how you two used to be.”
Aiden grunted. “You said you’d never bring that up again.”
“I don’t care what happened between you two. Using this excuse that you’re sticking up for Alison to prove yourself to him, isn’t the son I raised”
Aiden crossed his arms as he looked out the window. “The son you raised can look after himself.”
Andrew looked down at Aiden’s arm. “Clearly. Can you promise me you won’t do this again?”
“Trust Chad? No problem”
“I mean putting yourself in danger to prove a point.”
Aiden looked back at Andrew. “Sure Dad, but can you promise me something too?”
Andrew let out a deep sigh. “Go on.”
“Don’t leave me in the dark with your cancer, I’m worried about you.”
“You don’t have to be, Aiden...
…I am though, Dad, you’re all I got left, I don’t want to lose you like we lost Mum.”
“Aiden, I can’t predict the future, you know?”
“Not asking you to, just if I can help, please let me”
Andrew looked ahead for a long twenty seconds. As the car came to a halt, he took the keys out of the ignition and turned to Aiden.
“Okay, if there is a way you want to help out, I’ll let you, if you promise to stop getting yourself in danger over petty things”
Aiden smiled. “Promise.”
“Okay, then we wont mention it again, all we got is each other in our house, might as well work like a team more.”
“Exactly how I see it, thanks Dad.”
They shook hands and walked up to the flat in silence. When they got in, Aiden planted himself on his bed. Tossing and turning trying to get comfortable, he eventually fell into a deep sleep.