Comfortably Numb

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Chapter 16

The light slam of a door startles me awake.

One glance around has me frowning, confusion as to why I'm splayed out in the hallway playing across my face. Then the memories hit me like a brick.

Footsteps have me opening my eyes again. Blake walks into the foyer a sad look on his face. I sigh and try to pull my legs up towards me. They refuse to move. I push myself up so I'm leaning against the front door and then look back at him. He has sat down across from me now, and he's resting his head in his hands.

"What happened?" My jaw tenses up. I look away from him in favour of tracing the outline of the kitchen door he'd just walked through.

"Andromeda." He growls. My eyes snap back to his. "What. Happened?" I swallow as a single tear falls from my eye.

"D-does it r-really matter?" He sighs and reaches up to pinch his thumb and forefinger against the bridge of his nose.

"Yes." He sighs after a second. He pulls his hand away and I can see anger spinning behind his eyes. "Yes it matters. You walked off into the woods in the middle of the afternoon, didn't tell anyone where you were going or why you were hurting, you disappeared for hours and didn't answer when anyone called... I need to know what you were thinking." Another tear falls from my eyes, and I look away from him once again.

"It d-d-d-doesn't matter." I whisper. He smacks his hand against the hardwood floor.

"Yes it does!" He yells. I scrunch my eyes shut, his anger intimidating. "It matters to me! Don't you get that?"

I heave in a deep breath before the pain spikes higher in my chest once again. I cough for a second, trying to breathe past the pain. Blake's hands wrap around my leg and I shudder, the feeling making my skin crawl. He drops his grip as I find the strength to pull my legs in, and wrap my arms around them. I fall to the ground in my ball and let myself cry once again.

"D-don't." I manage between cries. I can feel Blake looking at me, aching to hold me. "D-don't." I whisper again. He slides back from me.

I cry for an endless moment, and then it stops as suddenly as it started.

I push myself to standing and walk past Blake without a word. He follows me a moment later, but I ignore him. I walk carefully up the stairs, my legs burning with each step. Once at the top, I walk right to my room. I pull the door shut behind me to form a much needed barrier between me and Blake.

I collapse to my knees once the door closes. I hear Blake sigh from the other side of the door, and then shuffling as he settles onto the ground. I go back to ignoring him.

I lay out on my floor and sink into my misery, bury myself in it because I am to weak to push it away. I lay there in silence until the sun comes up. At some point Blake disappears into his own room, but I barely spare him a thought.

Suddenly aware of the cold, I roll to my knees. I pull my sweater over my head, followed by my shirts. I crawl towards the bathroom in my bra and jeans.

When I hit the tiles I shuffle in further to be able to close the door. I pop the button of my jeans and pull them off my legs with great difficulty. Once I'm in nothing but my underwear, I crawl to the shower. I climb in and turn the water to hot. It starts falling immediately, the icy cold hitting my muscles in an all too familiar way, As it heats up I settle onto my bum and wrap my arms around my knees once again.

I stay under the hot spray. My mind becomes blissfully numb after the water turns hot, so I sit in silence and put myself back together.

When the water starts getting cold again, I climb out.

I pull my wet undergarments off and drape them over the shower wall. I wrap a fluffy white towel around me and step onto the cold tile.

I unlock the door to my room half an hour later. Blake is sitting across from my door again, and when I pull it open he pushes himself to standing. I don't acknowledge him. Instead I walk past him without a word and head down to the kitchen. He follows after me.

"What's in the bag?" I ignore his question. I descend the stairs and turn into the kitchen. My heart freezes as three bodies come into view. Ryker is staring at me, sadness and something I can't name behind his eyes. Rowan is sitting at the table, his back to me. He tenses up as I walk through the door.

Arrow is sitting across from him, her eyes dim and lowered to the kitchen table. She doesn't look up when I enter.

I shake off my hesitation and walk further into the kitchen, my black bag still clutched tightly in my grip.

"Andy..." Ryker calls my name. I square my jaw but otherwise don't acknowledge him. I start rummaging through drawers, looking for supplies.

"What are you looking for?" Blake questions. I sigh and flick my eyes up at him for a brief second before burying my head back in the drawer.

"H-hammer." I pull out the lighter and shove it into my back pocket before moving to the next drawer.

"Why?" Blake questions, harsh and angry. I ignore him again. My fingers close around the hammer, finally, and I turn to walk out of the kitchen. I head to the back door and only pause once to pull my boots over my feet. I can feel Blake, Ryker and Rowan behind me. Somehow I know Arrow hasn't followed.

I step off the deck and start digging with my feet until there's a sizable patch of dead grass visible.

"Andy what are you doing?" Ryker whispers, closer than I thought. I shiver and turn so I can see him.

He's frowning down at me, and I feel the need to wrap my arms around him, to reassure him. I push the urge down and turn back to my bag.

I sink onto my knees and pull it open. I pull out the first thing and Blake gasps.

"What the hell are you doing?" He barks at me. I ignore him and gently pull the shining brown lid off the top of the box. I place it down gently beside me, and reach into the box with my left hand. I run the satin of the ribbons between my fingers, thinking of the last time I'd touched these.

"You look beautiful, Meda." He fingers the ribbons that are twined tightly around my hair, falling softly to the middle of my back. "So beautiful."

I pull out the lengths of black ribbon and drop them carefully into the hole I have dug. I turn back to the box to look at their white counterparts. I tug them out as well and let them fall through my fingers.

"Queen Odette... Won't you be mine?" I roll my eyes at him, a happy smile tugging at my lips. "Like you'd be able to handle me."

I drop the box beside it's lid and reach for the lighter in my pocket. Hands wrap around my wrist, stopping me. I turn to glare at Blake.

"What are you doing?" He spits at me. I huff in a breath before pulling my wrist away from him.

"W-what needs d-doing." I spit back. He growls and pushes himself closer to me. Panic spikes through me, but I take a deep breath and remind myself that he's my brother- he'd never hurt me.

"You can't just get rid of anything he's ever touched." I snarl back at him and shake his hands off of me. He lets go for a second before wrapping his fingers around my slim wrists again.

"W-watch me." His eyes narrow and he suddenly drops my wrists.

"You are such a stupid selfish prick." He spits. I flinch at his words. "D-don't you think I know t-that?" I whisper. I wrap my arms around myself and sink lower onto my knees, the snow crunching around me. Blake reaches past me for the box and I let him. He gathers up the yards of ribbon and I say nothing.

I can feel Ryker and Rowan staring at me, but neither has said a word. I push myself to my feet and toss my bag in Blake's direction. He catches it by the bottom and there's several squeaks as he compresses the ducks. He growls and opens it. I flinch as he curses, knowing what he's seeing. I turn and stalk back into the house.

They follow after me in tense silence. I know Rowan and Ryker are confused, and Blake is incredibly angry. I head into the kitchen to put the lighter and hammer back. When Blake sees them, he explodes again.

"What were you thinking?" I shrug but he pushes on. "How can you seriously sit there and act like this is nothing? How can you try to destroy the only things he left you?" I turn to him, ice in my eyes. He continues on.

"You are so selfish. I cannot believe that you would do this, after everything that happened." I take a step closer to him, but Ryker gets between us. His back is to me, but I feel weak in the knees as he speaks to Blake, power flowing out of him.

"Stand down, Blake." Blake lowers his head before sinking into the nearest chair. Arrow is sitting beside him, still sad but a curious glint burning off of her now. I turn to walk away, my emotions burning a hole in their box once again.

"Andy." Ryker calls. I turn to look at him. He's frowning down at me. "Are you alright?" I clench my jaw and let my eyes drift shut for a second to collect myself. When I flick them open I offer him a jerky nod.

Blake blows up again, and slams his hands against the table. It cracks under the weight of his anger. I flinch at the sound, but when I turn to look at him he is stalking out of the kitchen. I follow him with my eyes as he pushes past the back door and disappears into the forest beyond our yard.

I sigh once he's gone and sink to the floor. Ryker comes to sit next to me. I don't realize when, but suddenly I'm crying again. I blame the bag of nicknacks I can still see sitting on the table; a little blue duck poking out of the top.

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When my tears eventually dry, Ryker offers me a tissue. I accept it and wipe my face without looking at any of them.

Stepping around Ryker, I walk towards the table to inspect it. It's splintered down the middle. I run my fingers along the cracks, shocked that I can see the exact spot Blake's hands had landed. Arrow shifts beside me. I turn to her but she's staring intently at the table.

'A-Arrow?" I whisper. Her eyes dart to me before she turns back to the table. I sigh and sink down into the chair next to her.

"A-are you OK?" I whisper to her. She swallows audibly before nodding vigorously.

"S-so why w-won't you l-look at m-me?" She turns to me then, but only for a brief second. I sigh again and turn to her frowning brother. He pulls out the chair across from me and throws himself into it.

"Arrow is concerned that she has ruined your friendship because she caused you to freak out and take off into the woods, where you stayed until you were nearly frozen to death, and then instead of coming back to her house you walked the rest of the way home." Rowan speaks up from his spot on the counter. I nod in his direction before turning back to Arrow.

"I'm s-s-sorry..." I whisper. Her head snaps up to me, I can see tears pooling behind her eyes.

"No! I'm sorry!" She cries. "I saw how uncomfortable you were all day and I kept pushing and then I let you just walk out the door and I didn't even follow you! You could have been hurt and I didn't do anything." I frown at her before standing up and stepping around the table. She starts crying as I walk away from her, but I keep going. I hear Rowan hop down from the counter and move around the table to her.

I come back a few minutes later, and she has mostly composed herself. I hug the album I have brought down tighter to my chest. She frowns when she sees it.

"What's that?" I hold it out to her from across the table, and she pulls it gently from my grip.
She traces the letters of the cover with a gasp and flicks her eyes back towards me. I shrug and sink into the chair to the left of Ryker- the only one available now that Rowan has stolen my previous seat.

"Swan Lake?" I nod and she traces the letters of the signatures scrawled across the bottom. Jason Baymont is scrawled elegantly right along the edge. Lila McKinnely is scrawled roughly above that, rough marks made in permanent marker. Arrow glances up at me again.

"Where did you get this?" She breathes. Excitement leaks from her voice and I have to work to stop the wince.

"Andy." I jump, not at all expecting to hear Blake's voice so soon after he has lost his temper. I give Arrow a tight smile before turning to look at him. His hands are clenched and his face is stormy, but he does look significantly calmer than he had before storming out. He traces his eyes over the album in Arrow's hands and then focuses back on me, jaw tight again.

"Can I speak with you?" He bites out. Unsure I nod and he turns and storms back into the yard. I stand to follow him but Ryker grabs my arm. Tingles dance from the place we're connected and he frowns at me. I tap his hand where he's holding me with a nod.

"It's ok... I'm ok R-Ryker." His eyebrows are drawn in concern, but as I stutter his name he visibly relaxes. His eyes drift shut, and he seems to shudder, but I brush it off as my imagination. After a moment his eyes slide open and he nods at me, finally letting go of my arm. I trudge after my angry brother, shaking with each step I take towards him. Ryker follows me to the doorway, but thankfully stops to lean against the door jam. I glance at him over my shoulder as I pull to a stop in front of Blake to see that he is glaring at my brother over my head. I roll my eyes at him before turning back to face Mr. Furious.

He's glaring down at his feet, obviously trying not to freak me out, although he really isn't doing a good job of that. I shuffle from foot to foot trying to distract myself.

"Andy..." He sighs, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose once again. He is quiet for another moment- trying to find the right words.

"What are you doing?" He finally asks. I shrug in response, playing dumb. He frowns deeper, obviously not liking my answer.

"Don't give me that crap Andromeda! You know exactly what you're trying to do!" I glare up at him as he raises his voice at me again. He glares right back, losing his temper once again.

"You can't just erase every part of you he ever touched.. Do you think that's what he would have wanted?" He stops to run his hands over his face, before letting the anger boil over once again as I stay silent. My jaw ticks but I keep my mouth shut.

"You cut your hair and I said nothing, even though you hacked it off by yourself in the bathroom. You dyed it a week later and again I said nothing. You buried yourself in layers and hid behind books and I let you because I hoped it would help. You threw away all of your costumes, stopped listening to the music you guys loved, locked all of your memories in a storage unit back home and deleted all of your friends from your phone and I let you without a word but this..... This is too much." He clenches his fists.

"You're acting like a child, Andromeda. Steven's dead, it's time you dealt with that. You can't just act like it never happened! What you went through was hard, but Seth-" I slap him across the face as hard as I can. My hand burns where I'd connected with him.

His eyes blazing, he lowers his gaze to my feet, ashamed.

"How d-dare you, you s-smug son of a bitch. D-don't you dare talk about t-things you couldn't possibly comprehend." I hiss at him. My hands are shaking now, and everything around me is fading to a deep angry red. Blake raises his eyes to meet mine.

"Then fucking TALK to me Andy! Make me understand! Stop pushing me away and help me to understand what went on back then!"

"I CAN'T! W-WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND T-THAT I DON'T WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND?! A-ALL I'VE EVER ASKED WAS FOR YOU T-TO. LEAVE. ME. ALONE!" I scream at him, chest heaving. All I can see is a wall of red, and there's a hot ball in my chest screaming at me to hit him again, but before I can say anything else, Ryker's unmistakeable arms wrap tightly around my waist.

"Stand down, Blake." He orders again, pulling me snugly against him. Blake shudders before nodding and taking off back into the woods.

I can feel myself still shaking, but slowly the hazy redness around my vision starts to recede.

"T-t-t-thank you" I breathe. He squeezes his arms around my middle before slowly letting me go.

"Would you like to come to my house?" He whispers softly, and runs his fingers through his thick hair. I bite my lip, torn between the want to escape into my covers for a while and the probably healthier option of spending time with people outside of my mind.
"I'm just worried that Blake will come back. I think he needs some time to cool off..." He trails off. I sigh and nod. He leads me into the house and I leave him to explain where we're headed to Arrow and Rowan while I go swap out my clothes for dry ones once again.

I walk silently down the stairs, listening to Arrow and Ryker talking about me. I feel ashamed at the worry I hear in their voices. When I reach the bottom of the stairs they stop talking and walk into the foyer. Rowan offers me a small smile before turning to tug his winter boots on. The others do the same and before long we're all climbing into the Beast.

When we get to the Cardinal's house, I reach the decision that I need to talk to Mr. Cardinal. Lately, whenever I have one of my nightmares the first thing I hear upon waking up is his promise to listen if I ever wanted to talk. Now, I don't really want to talk, but Blake is right about one thing- I need to face this. Now I'm not ready to face everything, but I am ready to let one person into the hellhole I have to call my mind to see if they can help me find a stick to beat back my demons.

We walk into the house together, and Ryker starts calling for his dad the moment the front door swings shut. Both Mr Cardinals walk in after the third call, confusion dancing across their features. As Ryker opens his mouth to speak, I take a step forward, drawing their attention.

"M-m-m-mr. Cardinal?" He smiles gently at me.
"Yes dear?" I take in a deep breath before forcing myself to lock my eyes onto his.

"I'm ready t-t-to t-talk now." My voice shakes uncontrollably, and his eyes widen immensely.
"OK. Follow me...." He gestures towards the back of the house. I turn to look behind me as I follow him deeper into the house, and see my friends and their father staring at us in confusion. I haul in a deep breath, forcing myself to stay in control.

When we reach a massive oak door in the back of the house, Mr. Cardinal pulls it open and gestures for me to take a seat. I sink into the plush black chair that's closest to the door. He walks around the large wooden desk and sinks into the high backed office chair across from me.

"So what would you like to talk about?"
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