“Oh my fucking god.” I let out as Noah came into view, having the sudden urge to throw up in anxiety. He looked sickly pale, sweat pouring off of him in buckets and blood leaking from the obvious confinement he had tried to cover himself with.
“It’s not that bad.” He breathed with a ghost of a smile as I put his other arm over my shoulder for support. We were still in hearing and sight range of Nate and Ashton, so I could tell this was a total fake act he had going.
“Shut up.” I growled at him and helped him walk through the lobby, hopefully unnoticeably.
“This hurts so badly.” Noah said, tears streaming down his cheeks as soon as we got out of Ashton and Nate’s sight. “I can’t even fucking breathe it hurts that badly.”
“I know, buddy. I’m sorry, it’ll be okay soon.”
“I’m sorry. I let you down. I shouldn’t have been so clumsy, I was trying to save Nate and-“
“Stop it, Noah. You got shot, I know. But you’re doing great, so lets just focus on that. Just…calm down.”
We made it to the apartment with Noah’s weak state increasing by the second.
“Oh. My. God.” Abby yelled as soon as she saw Noah.
“Get him on the table, we have to start straight away.” Cassidy’s aunty ordered, grabbing things from the counter and motioning for me to lie Noah on the table.
“Noah, this is going to hurt. A lot. But you’ve been so strong, you’ll be alright.” Steph told him, brushing his hair off his face. “He’s lost too much blood already. Abby, get the bandages. As soon as I get this bullet out, he’s not moving. Got it?” She turned to me, her gaze stern.
“Got it, ma’am.”
“Is anyone else hurt?” Abby asked me, wanting to help.
“Jasmine is mentally scarred for the rest of her life and Nate was fixed up by the paramedics.”
Abby glared at me. “Why the fuck wasn’t Noah fixed up?” She followed me to the living room, away from Noah’s hearing range.
“He didn’t say anything to anyone until afterward. This is so fucked up.” I sat down, my head in my hands. I had most likely just smeared Noah’s blood all over my face and in my hair, but I didn’t care. We were all silent, the only noises being Noah’s grunts of pain as Steph operated on him and Cassidy’s whimpers and sniffs from the other couch. I wanted to curl up next to her and tell her everything was going to be okay, but I couldn’t. Nate was here and everything wasn’t going to be okay. Noah could be dead by tomorrow, and there were so many people on her tail trying to hurt her.
“He’ll be okay, Justin.” Abby offered, rubbing my arm. “He’s a strong guy.”
“He should have told someone.” I started, but was cut off. My throat was closing up again, tears starting to spill.
“Aw, Justin! You’re human!” Abby giggled and wiped my tears with her thumb. “It’s okay to worry, you know.”
“I know. I- I need to see Noah. I don’t know what’s going on, I can’t sit here and be fine like this I need to see him.”
I got up from my seat, not wanting to let her see me cry, and went over to the kitchen. I watched as Steph operated on him, his dirt and blood covered face distorted in pain. After a long while, Steph was done and was bandaging up Noah’s arm.
“Hey buddy, you alright?” I asked.
“Not really, but I’m alive.”
“Now, you aren’t moving this arm for the next week, got it? You were shot, something huge in itself, but in your shoulder. Which connects to the rest of your damn arm, so don’t move it. You’re not going anywhere. Keep it in the sling.” Steph told him sternly as he got off the table.
“Sure thing, Steph.” Noah replied.
“Yeah, I’ll keep him under strict rules.” I said.
“Okay, good. I’m going to go and speak to Cassidy, she’s a mess.”
We both nodded and waited until she left before I started talking.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you.” I said honestly, feeling the urge to cry again. God, I was such a pussy.
“It’s alright, it’s my fault. Like I said, I was clumsy. You trained me to perfection.”
“Don’t say that – you saved two lives. The enemy’s life being one of them. That's pretty noble of you. And brave. And a million things, but not clumsy.”
Noah shook his head in shame. “I don't know…”
“Well I do.” I said firmly. “When we first met, you were a kid with no home, drinking yourself to ashes on the side of the street. You were only around 14 or 15 at the time and while that's only a year or so younger than me I couldn’t help but think of you like my little brother.”
He smiled slightly as I spoke. “You told me you were addicted to the drugs, the alcohol and the sex – but I knew better. You were addicted to the escape of the pain. Of letting everyone down. Once I got you sober and kept you that way, you were a beast. You could beat my best fighters – some of them being twice your size. But you were still a kid with a bunch of family problems and a messed up mind with no way out. You followed me around for six months until I got you a pretty girl to get you away from me. But when I didn’t have you around I realized how much I missed having you around and tonight –“ I stopped, feeling the same damn feeling of my throat closing up, my chest tightening and my eyes burning. “Tonight, I couldn’t help but think about that. If I lost you, but for good this time –“
And finally, I let it out. Tears ran down my face as Noah grabbed me roughly using his one good arm and pulled me in for a hug.
“You don't have to say anything, J. Thank you.” He muttered.
I took a deep breath and quickly wiped my eyes. “We sound like such girls, talking out our feelings and crying.” I laughed.
“It’s been a hard night. I think we’re allowed for just this time.”
We were quiet for a bit, both of us thinking to ourselves.
“Is Cassie alright?” Noah finally asked, breaking the silence.
“I’m not sure,” I admitted, “I haven’t spoken to her since we got here.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Well – I was worried about you-“
“Don’t bullshit me on my deathbed Justin.” He growled.
I sighed. “I don’t want to talk to her. She wants everything to be okay and it’s not going to be. I can’t help her. She doesn’t even want me-“
“Are you kidding? Okay, just stop. You can help her. Comfort her, sit there, for fucks sake just be with her! The only person she wants is you. All night she was jealous. Hell, she’d been jealous the minute we told her you were going with Jasmine!”
“But why would she be jealous?”
“Why are you jealous when you see her and Nate together?”
“Oh I don't know, because I might be fucking in love with her?”
“You’re what?” Noah’s voice was suddenly a lot quieter than before, a lot more serious.
“I don’t know. The more I think about it the more I think ‘yeah, I do’ but I’m just so scared.”
“Justin…you have to tell her.”
“Yeah,” I scoffed, “That’s not happening. Anyway, I didn’t come here to talk about that. You could have fucking died you dumb ass! I don’t want to talk about my girl problems.”
Before he could reply, we were rudely interrupted by Nate, Ashton and Jasmine walking into the apartment.
“What’s wrong with her?” I asked, watching as Jasmine sat silently at the kitchen table.
“What the fuck do you think? She almost fucking died.” Nate spat.
“Your real girlfriend, you know, the one you cheated on, is in the other room.”
Nate shot out of the room as fast as he could to go see Cassidy. I rolled my eyes in disgust.
“You know, he almost took bullet to save her.” Ashton began.
“Yeah, and Noah took an actual bullet to save him.” I snapped.
“I’m just saying, you don’t need to be so harsh on him.”
I didn’t reply to that, thinking we had had enough violence for one night.
“Jas?” I moved from my spot next to Noah and crouched down to her eyelevel. “Please answer me.”
“He tried to kill me.” she whispered.
Excitement fluttered in my stomach. She was talking, thank god.
“I know, baby. But he didn’t want to. He wanted Cassidy…it just got mixed up because he saw you with Nate.”
“What does he want with Cassidy?” she snapped, her eyes blazing with anger. “I won’t let him near her.”
“He wants to use her for revenge against Nate for something that happened a while ago. You can’t tell anyone about this, not even the police. You can talk to us, but that's it. You have to tell everyone else you have no idea why you were targeted, that he must have been some freak. You don’t know anything. It’s safer for you that way.”
She nodded numbly. “Alright, fine. I don't want to know about the troubles that happen between everyone in this little group of yours. I just…don’t know if I can deal with seeing you. Any of you. I- I never want to go through that again.”
I nodded and looked up at Ashton. “Did they find out that she wasn’t Cassidy?”
He nodded, “Yeah. They won’t go after this one, they aren’t that bad.”
“Are you kidding me?” Jasmine shrieked. “I was almost killed and you’re saying ‘they aren’t that bad’?”
“Okay, princess. I liked you better when you were quiet. Nate took an ass whipping to save you and everyone else is injured or shaken up as hell. You probably came out best in this situation, especially since you don’t even know any of us well enough to give a shit if something happened. If you’re fine, go into the living room with Cassidy and shut the hell up.”
Her mouth fell open in shock and she stomped off, not bothering to reply to him.
“Cruel much?” Noah chuckled.
“It’s been a long day.” He replied, running his hands through his hair.
“I know. Are you alright?” I asked.
“Yeah. I mean, I’m covered in two of my best friend’s blood and I just saw them half dead but other than that, I’m fine.”
“It’s worse this time, isn’t it?” I asked, resting my head against the cupboard.
“Definitely. It was chaos in there.” Noah answered.
“By far. Not only do we have Nate coming after our guys left, right and centre, but we have our own guys trying to kill Cass, undercover people coming out and revealing themselves as traitors and I mean…dude. We’re in way over our heads. I feel like we should just…disappear. Go and change our names and head off to some island.” Ashton chuckled.
“That’d be fantastic.” Noah groaned.
“You know we can’t do that. None of us are even 21. You and me are still in school, Noah.”
Ashton snorted, “As a cover. If we were back home you wouldn’t be in senior year. Listen, man. The boys are out of control. They have no leader. You need to bring them back together, like your dad did. They look to you for guidance and you’re…off the radar. You never show up to meetings, online or not, and you take more responsibility for school than you do for us. You have to step up your game.”
I nodded in agreement, remembering Noah telling me the same thing. But only one thing was on my mind – how the fuck was I meant to do that when they all wanted to kill the girl I could possibly be in love with?
I was completely numb. I couldn’t feel anything. My emotions were entirely taken over by pain and guilt.
“This is the second time I’ve had to look after one of your friends, Cassidy. Not that I mind but – what exactly are you involved in? These injuries are serious, life threatening. Noah lost a lot of blood. A few more minutes and I’m not sure I would have been able to help him.”
I sat in silence, not responding to her. My once perfected make up was now non-existent, my styled hair a mess, both reminding me of my life. My life before I met Nate was perfect. Sure, it had a few stray problems but it was great. Now? It was like one big tangled mess that I had no idea how to sort out.
“There are people that want to…talk to me to scare Nate. He was involved in some bad things and now everything he did is biting me in the ass ‘for revenge.’” I spat, slightly changing the truth.
“D-do I need to call the police?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“No. You can’t tell mom, or dad or anyone. It would put everyone in danger and I can’t let that happen. I’m going to be okay, everyone helps as much as they can. Don’t worry about me.” I smiled. I couldn’t tell her they actually wanted me dead. She’d freak out, and I didn’t need that.
I really just wanted to die, regardless of who helped me do it. Whether it be my enemies or myself. Though, in my mind I was my own enemy. I was completely serious when I had said that to Justin. I couldn’t deal with any of this anymore and I didn’t know how long I would last before I started pushing everyone away again.
“Okay, sweetie. I trust you, I think. Just please be careful. I’m going back home but I think you should stay here, alright? Make sure your friends are okay.” She gave me a half smile. “I think Justin wants to speak to you.” She whispered, her smile forming into a cheeky grin.
“Alright. Goodnight, Aunty Steph.” I smiled back, but I didn’t feel it. Granted, it was almost 2am and I had just been in a near death situation where most of my friends had been hurt, but it wasn’t just that. I felt like complete shit.
“We need to talk.” Justin started, “About what you said in the car.” He sat down next to me, our thighs noticeably touching.
“No, we don’t.” I said, standing up and blocking him out. He didn’t need to know all my life problems.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me back down, grabbing my chin. “We do.”
“Justin, it’s 2am. I don’t feel like talking.”
“The best conversations happen at this time.”
Images of Justin chocking out his words through tears in the car as he spoke to Noah invaded my mind. ‘I need you’ seemed to be something he was really good at saying to people. Was he lying?
“Justin, I’m not suicidal.” I deadpanned, lying through my teeth.
He gave me a flat look, letting me know he could see through my lies. “Regardless, I need you to be completely honest with me. I need to know that if someone had you at gunpoint, or someone was about to kill you, that you would get away. Or try to. You wouldn’t let them kill you because you feel like you shouldn’t be here. You have to promise me that you would- you would be okay.”
When I didn’t say anything, he started again. “You’re worth saving, Cassie, and we have the wounds to prove it. You think Noah got shot for Nate? No. He was saving Nate’s ass, for you. You think Nate took a beating for Jasmine? No. Sure, he probably wanted to save her, but in the end we’re all trying to save you. To keep you safe. I can’t let you ever think that you’re better off gone, because your not. I can’t work everyone so hard trying to keep you here only for you not to help us. I – I’d break, Cass. I mean, I’m totally messed up right now but without you…I’m nothing.”
Tears welled in my eyes at Justin’s words. Nobody had ever confronted me like that before, let alone told me I was ‘worth saving’.
I crawled onto his lap and wrapped my arms around his neck, closing my eyes and inhaling his familiar scent of cinnamon sugar and chocolate.
“I’m sorry.” I mumbled, resting my chin on his shoulder.
“It’s okay. Just please, talk to me. I’m always here for you, okay? For anything.” he replied, moving my head to look me in the eyes.
“Thank-you, Justin. Same to you.” I mumbled, kissing him on the nose. “Sorry, I don’t know why I did that.” I cringed.
“Don’t apologize.” Justin told me, a giant grin threatening to take over his face as he bit his lip.
“Well, I’m off to bed! Everyone’s staying here, irrespective of what you want. Jasmine’s gone home, but the rest of us are all in danger at the moment, better we be together - woah.” Ashton called, causing Justin and I to jump apart. I quickly stood up, not wanting there to be any evidence of me ever being on Justin’s lap.
“Ah, you two lovebirds better go to bed too. You look pretty exhausted.” He winked. A deep blush covered my cheeks at his words.
“I was wondering when you two would get together.” Noah yawned, his left arm in a sling.
“We’re not together.” I scowled, giving Noah a hug. “Are you okay, though?”
“Sure. Just a little tired. And, you’re not together yet.” Noah laughed.
“You’re a little too happy for someone who has just been shot in the arm.” Justin mused, getting up also. “C’mon, go to bed cutie. You’re rooming with Abs and Nate because he can’t stand us.”
“Ew, I don’t want to be with them! What if they have sex on my floor or something.” Abby said, her face scrunched up in disgust as she walked into the room with Nate.
“Does it look like I’m in the mood for sex?” I groaned, embarrassed. Nate grinned, wrapping his arms around my waist.
“We won’t be too messy, Abby.” He winked. I watched over his shoulder as Noah and Justin pretended to gag and be sick on the floor and had to bite my lip to hold in a laugh.
“Goodnight boys.” I smiled, stepping out of Nate’s arms to give Justin and Noah a hug.
“So I guess it’s no school tomorrow?” I offered to Abby as we walked to her room.
“School? Pffttt. You were just witnessing a near death experience, only you would worry about school.”
For the first time all day, I felt like a normal person. Like maybe we were a normal group of friends, crashing at someone’s house. Maybe everything would be okay.
A/N: I updated on time yayyy :)
I did have a lot to write on this authors note about the length of this story as a whole and sequel and stuff like that BUTTT ill write it in the next chapter which will be uploaded TOMORROW. please comment your thoughts I'm really nervous when people don't comment that they hate the story or the chapter i love youuu xx