-I decided not to update half a year later this time :)

Chapter 17

"You can stay here if you want. My mom and dad honestly don't care. They're not around enough to. I promised Jay I would take care of you."

Now let's back-track to how this bizarre morning began.

I woke up feeling disoriented. It was new. I always knew where I was and exactly what happened the day before. I always watched a bit of TV, had a nice snack and went to sleep knowing exactly what would happen tomorrow. A huge block of my memory seemed to be missing. I sat up in bed, rubbing my eyes. I rolled over, only to roll right into something… something in my bed, underneath my covers.

I opened my eyes immediately. I was not in my bed. In fact, I was in Heath's bed… with Heath.

And then yesterday's events slowly began to trickle back into my brain, starting with Jimmy and ending with the hospital.

My first urge was to sock Heath in the stomach and demand that he explain why we were sharing a bed. But he was cocooned in the covers, tucked right in, mumbling into his pillow about butterflies, "Damn butterflies. So pretty." And I couldn't. It was too cute a sight to ruin. Even I felt my heart flutter but I refrained from "awwwing", now that would be just out of character.

Instead, I got out of the bed and traipsed down the stairs, pausing briefly to wonder where my soaked sweater went. I didn't take it off the night before, did I? Why was I being so quiet anyway? It sounded like no one else was even here.

Oh screw that. I ran down the steps the rest of the way, looking both ways, before running towards the front entrance. I looked at the pile of shoes in front of the closet, rather than inside it, laughing before slipping my feet into mine.

As soon as I put my hand on the door, I heard someone tsking. "You're not going to leave before he wakes up, are you? After a night of loving, Heath usually wants more in the morning."

A night of loving?

"Ugh, don't make me sick," I replied to Andrea's playful tone.

It was meant as a joke. Don't get angry.

"And why on earth do you know about your brother's sex life? Not that I have anything to do with… that life."

Andrea laughed before grabbing me by the wrist and leading me into the kitchen. "I think everyone in our house hears those girls he brings over. We pretend we don't. It's just better that way."

I narrowed my eyes at her. Was she really covering up for Heath and Jay or was Heath cheating on Jay? Maybe it was an open relationship…

"I made omelettes, I couldn't just let you leave."

She set a plate in front of me, with a glass of milk. My mouth watered at the sight. I dug in immediately, she laughed. She was doing a lot of that this morning.

In between bites, "You seem chipper this morning. I'll take that as a good sign. I guess whatever happened with Jay's sister was no big deal."

The smile instantly dropped from her face, her eyes dulling.

"Unfortunately, no. They are not doing well. Jay wouldn't even react to anything I said! I got back an hour ago, I just stopped pacing so I could make you guys breakfast. He refuses to sleep! Not even to just lie his head down against the hospital bed. They even offered him a cot!"

I regretted mentioning Jay, Andrea was obviously distressed. I zoned back into her rant, this time she seemed to be directing them at someone else.

"-such a bastard! How could he even do that to a child? She's just a little girl! And Jay's beating himself up for it too. He was just starting to get better! Just starting to get over him and now, he has to fuck everything up. To think he fooled Jay into thinking he changed! He fooled all of us!"

I was confused. Who was this guy? And why was Jay "just getting over him"?

"Don't you just want to fucking kill that bastard? Jay told you all about what he did, right? His mother couldn't even handle it. What he did. She's just a coward. And he, he's just nothing. He doesn't deserve to be classified as human. I hope he rots in jail. I hope he becomes someone's bitch. Let's see how he feels being the weaker person..." She stopped to take in heaving breaths.

She seemed to think I knew what she was talking about. I had no idea. I was starting to get angry though. At this guy she kept on mentioning. Was he the one that harmed Jay's sister?

"I'm just so fuckin' pissed off! How can you sit there so calmly? I can't even imagine how Jay feels in this situation. The anger he must be keeping all bottled up inside. He won't even talk to us! Not even to me! He always tells me what's wrong!"

I was starting to freak out. She was pacing across the kitchen, tears leaking out of her eyes, gesturing wildly.

I began to think I was witnessing a breakdown. I stood up, I felt useless just sitting there. According to Andrea, I shouldn't be able to sit, knowing what happened. But there's just this tiny, little detail.

I don't fucking know what happened!

At that moment, Heath decided to step in. His hair was flying up in all directions, his tank top rode up revealing a sliver of smooth, pale stomach and hip, his plaid pajama bottoms resting on his hips.

He raised his arms to stretch, yawning, my mouth began to water again. I don't think it was from hunger this time.

After he took a moment to consider the situation, his face set determinedly, eyes narrowing. He stopped Andrea, getting a hold of her shoulders. He grabbed her into a hug, she fought a little, not giving in, but she eventually calmed as Heath murmured to her. He led her out of the room, "Just sleep. We'll talk about this after you wake up. Meet us at the hospital, alright?" he spoke soundly now.

I felt like I was intruding on their moment. Heath really knew how to save the day. I had misjudged him. He was an enigma. I mean, what kind of ass has a tear-jerking passionate kiss with someone in the rain, jeopardizes their own self for others, offers a home to the homeless (me), and comforts their siblings so delicately?

It just didn't add up. Heath just didn't add up.

I looked up at him suspiciously as he rubbed his eyes, yawning once more. He sighed, taking a seat at the kitchen island. I stood there, somewhat awkwardly. Why was I still at his house?

I grabbed the plate from the kitchen counter, the one Andrea had previously set for Heath. I put it in front of him, retreating to my place leaning against the counter. He smiled up at me, grateful. I shrugged. It's not like I'd made him the breakfast, I didn't deserve the gratitude.

"Um," I began eloquently.

He looked up, between bites, he was as hungry as I had been, apparently.

"Thanks for bringing me here… but I can't really remember why exactly that you thought it was a good idea for me to sleep at your house," I spoke calmly, keeping the edge out of my tone.

He shrugged. "It was your idea."

I stood up straight. "Wait, what?"

He laughed, condescendingly. I thought for once second he was beginning to act like a human, there he goes being a bastard again.

I narrowed my eyes. "You're lying."

"I'm not. I took you home but you begged to stay with me, you were all, 'Please Heath, take me home with you!' I couldn't leave a damsel in distress."

I gasped. "Okay, you're definitely lying now."

He smirked. "Fine, maybe not in those words," he acquiesced.

I glared in his direction. "Well, it's been fun but-"

He pushed his plate aside, expression sobering. "Fine, I'm sorry. Just sit down, you're making me nervous."

I scoffed. What? Don't like feeling little?

I sat across from him at the island, looking at him expectantly.

"You can stay here if you want. My mom and dad honestly don't care. They're not around enough to. I promised Jay I would take care of you."

He rambled on, but I was just hearing his words. Did he just invite me to stay at his house? How did he even know I had nowhere to go?

"Wait."

He looked up, raising a brow.

"Did you just ask me if I wanted to live with you? And you promised Jay what?!"

He rolled his eyes. "I'm not asking you to move in with me or something. Don't get your panties in a twist. I just thought you wanted somewhere to go and I know Jay would've let you stay with him but since he doesn't have a home at the moment, you can stay at mine."

Way to put it. "It's okay. You don't have to feel sorry for me. I don't need your pity, Heath. And where you got the idea that I didn't have anywhere to go is beyond me."

I stood up, prepared to say goodbye.

He stood up with me. "Don't be a brat. I know you can't go home. I'm not gonna pry into your life and ask why, I'm just trying to be a good friend here."

Only he could be nice and rude in the same sentence.

"I appreciate the offer, but…"

"Just shut up and stay, Lana." He rolled his eyes, taking his dishes to the sink.

I crossed my arms, pouting. He was right. Why I kept on refusing was another thing. I had no place to stay and he was offering his place up, without even asking why. He was being nice the only way he knew how, I had to accept.

"Thanks," I grumbled.

He only smiled back at me, sinisterly, if I may add.

Why did I feel like I was getting myself into something I wouldn't be able to get out of?

I looked up from staring at the tv, flipping the channels, feeling one with the couch to see Heath walking by looking all prim and proper, as always- leather jacket practically shining, flattering fitted jeans, shoes without a speck of dirt, hair styled to perfection.

He looked at me briefly, sending a small smile my way before heading in the direction of the door.

I stood up, following him. "And where do you think you're going?"

He raised a brow, looking at me with a dubious expression.

"To go see Jay."

I scowled. Thanks for telling me, asshole.

"At the hospital?"

"No, on a fucking rainbow," he said, deadpan.

Who knows? They could very well be going to hang out on a rainbow, they are gay.

I rolled my eyes at him.

"So can I come?"

Don't get any ideas, the only reason why I was asking permission to go visit my own friend was so I wouldn't intrude on any lover's moment they might have. I did not need to see them making out again. Cue shuddering.

He shrugged. "Why not?"

I looked at myself. I was in the same clothes I wore yesterday, old sweatpants and a mangy t-shirt. I looked right disgusting next to Heath. He seemed to be doing that glittering thing again, his hair was gelled at awkward angle- a style that was apparently very in-, his face without a single blemish, his fitted jeans were pressed, and his leather jacket was perfectly tattered. I felt really ugly.

I nodded my assent. He looked down at me with an unreadable expression, no doubt judging my look.

He walked towards the closet, reaching in for a similar leather jacket, except much smaller. He handed it to me, turning towards the door, leading the way to the car. I slipped it on, mumbling my thanks. It was still pretty cold out, even though the winter should've been coming to a close.

The following week would be the last week of February. Not that I felt like I'd even attended school after the winter break…. which was mostly because I didn't really.

We piled into Jay's car which was still in Heath's driveway. I was still worried about Jay, but I didn't even have a clue as to what happened to his sister. Or more appropriately, who happened to her, according to Andrea.

I secured the seatbelt around me, laying my hands in my lap.

Heath revved the engine, backing out of the driveway quickly.

"Whoa. Slow down, you might kill a little kid or something!" I held a hand over my heart as he sped down the road.

In comparison to his driving, my driving was at a snail's pace. So what if I liked to be careful? I couldn't handle the guilt of killing some innocent pedestrian.

He laughed at my expression, taking his hands off the steering wheel to turn a CD on.

"What are you doing now?"

Did he really need both hands to turn the CD player on?! I slapped his hands away, taking over. Some loud metal blasted out the speakers, making Heath swerve in surprise. I slammed my hands against the buttons, turning that horrible music off.

"What the fuck are you doing?! Who taught you to drive?!" My heart was beating at an unnatural rate, I was this close to meeting my demise, aka, the street light.

He chuckled, grinning in my direction. He seemed to find it funny when I swore.

This was just all a big joke to him. I crossed my arms over my chest, looking away, grumbling under my breath.

"That metal crap isn't mine, just surprised me, I forgot Jay likes to emo out to it and have a good cry in his car." He snickered.

I rolled my eyes at him, hiding my smile behind my hand.

I turned back to him a few minutes later when the car came to a stop on the side of the road.

"What's wrong now? Did you kill the engine with your reckless driving?"

I smiled in his direction, hoping to see another grin, but his lips were set in a thin line.

"Don't tell me it's really broken," I joked.

He smiled, albeit weakly. "Nah, I parked. But since we're going to see Jay and all, I should probably tell you what's wrong with his sister. You're probably wondering."

No shit, dumbass. I urged him to continue, nodding frantically.

He ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up even more. "Okay, where do I start?" He sighed.

"I guess I should start with Jay, you probably want to know why he doesn't go to parties anymore."

"I already know, you said he used to be a party animal or whatever. He's just trying to stop, right?"

I didn't need to know about Jay's escapades again. Apparently, he used to be a real sex fiend. I also didn't need to hear about what Heath did to get him to stop. Nor did I need to have images of Heath and Jay doing it.

I grimaced at the audacity my imagination had sometimes.

"Well yeah, he is trying to stop but the reason he started in the first place was because of his dad."

I remembered that phone conversation I had with Jay's dad way back when, when he prejudged me. I remembered how hard Jay tried to convince me that his brother was nothing like his dad and how much he really disliked his father.

"Uh… okay, well Jay's dad used to beat him. And no not like a tap on the wrist or anything like that. He used to all out beat the living shit out of him. Any time anything went wrong he used to fuck him up so bad, he couldn't go to school for weeks. And that shit didn't stop until halfway through high school, when Jay finally fought back. But by then, he was already fucked up in the head. He used to get drunk every fucking day and, uh, he probably wouldn't want you to know this but he was into crack for a bit too. And let's not forget how he was high everyday in school. I swear for two years I didn't have a fucking real conversation with him. And every time he came down, I had to deal with that shit. I was the only one he had."

He stopped, taking a breath, calming himself.

"Just- he wasn't himself for a long time. He's still getting over it. He used to put his frustrations into… well, sex, but he broke enough hearts in our school and Andrea forced him to stop. And now, I think he's regressing. All because of that fucker he calls his dad."

I took a moment to take it all in. I did not expect that at all. I knew his father was a rude prick but I didn't expect this at all.

"So why does he still live with him? After all that?"

Heath smiled, shaking his head. "Because he fucking said he was different. He fucking changed. Jay stupidly believed him because he still wanted a father, still wanted someone to look up to. All he did was go to some therapy, claiming he was a changed man. That it was all in the past."

"So he didn't stop?" I asked. Was Jay getting beaten to this day?

"He did. Jay wasn't a fucking little pussy anymore. He wouldn't have taken it anyway." Heath scoffed. "I would've beat the shit out of him myself."

I didn't understand. "If he stopped, then what's the problem? He really is over it, right?"

"He did stop. For three fucking years, he stopped, until fucking yesterday."

"Is Jay okay?" I asked, worried. I hadn't even noticed anything about him. Was he hurt?

Heath pursed his lips, grimly. "No, not Jay. Sarah, Jay's little sister."

My eyes widened of their own accord, my gasp filling the car.

"I thought she was just ten! She's just a little girl!"

Heath ran a hand through his hair nervously. "I fucking know that. Don't you think we know?" He growled, frustrated.

"She's okay though, right? Just some bruises? She'll be fine." I tried assuring myself.

"That's the problem. We don't know. The bastard almost killed her. He used up all his strength on her. She broke an arm, a wrist, sprained ribs, her collarbone… he fucking left her in a coma. She hasn't woken since. She was just a sweet, skinny little kid and he fucking annihilated her."

He took a deep breath again. "And it had to be the one time Jay trusted him to be left alone with her. He was always suspicious of him and he wanted to protect his little sister from him. We always complained that he was too overprotective of her, that she'd be fine. That even his asshole of a dad wouldn't harm a little girl."

His voice was cracking now. "And the worst part-" He breathed in again. "The worst part is that I was the one who convinced to come over to my house, to have some fucking fun for once in his life. I just wanted to celebrate. I was fucking happy for once. I finally stood up to..." He trailed off, turning away hastily.

I ignored how weird he was acting, I was still trying to piece it all together. There was one part missing in all of this though. I was still wondering about her.

"Where's Jay's mother?"

Heath shook his head, blinking repeatedly. It was like he was forcing himself to be telling this story. "His mother isn't in the picture. She picked up and left her kids with that bastard. Because his dad didn't used to just beat Jay, he used to beat his mother too. And she always got the worst of it. One day, she just disappeared, without a fucking word."

Wow, tough. I felt so bad for Jay. I couldn't even imagine how I'd feel in his place. And according to Andrea, he thought the blame was all his.

"When?"

I had to know exactly how long this was going on.

Heath sighed. "Uhh, a little after Sarah was born… apparently, they hadn't planned on having her and she couldn't handle being tied down to him any longer, so she up and left. That's about when he stopped. Bastard finally regretted it."

I took a deep breath. "Okay."

Heath wrinkled his nose at me. "Uhh, okay to what?"

"Okay, I can do this. You guys are all helping Jay, right? He has no one else and I'm definitely going to be there for him. Okay, let's go to him and make sure he gets through this."

Heath smiled at me appreciatively, nodding to himself, pulling out back onto the road.

"Okay," he repeated.

I sent a reassuring smile his way when I noticed he was looking at me from the corners of his eyes.

I never once thought I'd be the one comforting Heath of all people. It just seemed strange that I would even be conversing with him at all, remembering how angry I'd been at him. Seeing this other side of him, however, this side of him that was burdened with fixing everyone's problems, made me want to lighten some of his load. I wasn't getting attached, I had my own problems to deal with, but he was offering his place to me out of the kindness of his heart. I felt obligated to do something in return.

That something would be trying to fix the impersonal yet somehow always in your personal space, Heath. I was going to find out what was up with his inconsistencies, I was going to find out what he was hiding from everyone, including Jay. I didn't know how I would go about doing that at the moment but looking over at his indecipherable expression as he clutched the steering wheel tightly, I knew that it was something I had to do.