Chapter Two

"El?" Jaydon called as he closed the chipped apartment door behind him.

It was past seven in the evening. He had just finished helping his mother. Tending to her and then helping her clear up the mess in the apartment.

He ran a weary hand over his face as he remembered. If only his mother would let him put a stop to it…

He was pulled out of his thoughts as Elody's head poked out of the kitchen.

"Jaydon," Elody greeted him when she saw him.

"How'd it go?" he asked her as he approached her. The kettle started whistling.

She turned around and went back inside the kitchen as he followed her.

"Better than I expected it to go, to be honest," she answered as she took the kettle off the heat. "Want a cup of tea?"

"Nah. I'm good," Jaydon sat down at the familiar kitchen table. He took the seat he always took at this table, the rickety white chair.

"She just went out to tell her… boss… that she's done," Elody said as she started brewing her tea.

"Do you think it's safe for her to go alone?" Jaydon asked his best friend, shocked. "You should have told her to wait for me and I would've gone with her."

Elody rolled her eyes at Jaydon and despite the fact that he couldn't see it; Jaydon knew that she was rolling her eyes. "Tone down on the testosterone Rambo."

"This is not male pride or anything," Jaydon scowled.

"Calm down," Elody said picking up her mug. "I would've gone with her, but she said that they were meeting at Bell's. It's a public place and she has friends there."

"Ah," Jaydon said as she sat down opposite him. Her chair was brown and stable, unlike his. They lapsed into silence for a while.

Elody didn't have to say it, but Jaydon could see how worried she was. He could practically hear her thoughts forming.

"Okay," he broke the silence. "I don't think dwelling on this subject will do you… or your lip any good, it's bleeding already."

Elody instantly stopped biting her lip and touched the corner with her finger. She brought her finger back to see a drop of red on it.

"Did you hear about half the basketball team getting suspended?" Jaydon said, inputting a different topic into this conversation.

"I heard about it in the passing. What happened?"

"Some crazy after party after winning on Friday. Apparently they stole a school bus and alcohol was involved too."

Elody raised her eyebrow as she blew her tea in an attempt to cool it down.

"Stole a bus? Seriously? I didn't hear about that part."

"Eh," Jaydon said kicking back the third chair at the table and placing his legs on it. "Who can believe these rumours?"

The two of them lapsed into a comfortable silence again as Elody sipped her tea.

She wasn't chewing her lip right now, but Jaydon still knew she was still worried.

After about a minute of this, Jaydon suddenly threw his legs off the chair he was resting them on and rose from the chair he was sitting on. Elody looked up at him, her hazel eyes wide.

"You're worrying too much El," Jaydon said. "Let's go out and do something. Staying in here is not helping."

"No," Elody shook her head. She had to stay here for when her mum got home.

"We'll be here when or before she gets back El," Jaydon said. "Besides, she might want some time alone after she gets back?"

"I have to make sure she's okay," Elody explained.

Without another word, Jaydon reached out and pulled the mug out of Elody's hands.

"Hey," Elody protested as she reached for it.

"There's nothing in this anymore," he placed the mug inside the kitchen sink.

"Now, get your worrying ass off that chair and come," Jaydon said as he suddenly pulled up the hood of his hoodie for no apparent reason.

Sighing Elody pushed herself off her chair and followed the hooded figure of her best friend out the front door of her apartment.

Just before they reached the door, Elody reached out and pulled the hood off her friends head. He smiled at her as he shut the door behind them.

"Let's have a few free throws," Jaydon said as he threw the basketball he retrieved from his house before at the girl.

She caught it, but barely. Her mind was obviously elsewhere.

They were at the neighbourhood basketball court, just around the corner from their apartment building. It was simply a fenced off concrete area, with the lines barely visible and two rusted hoops on either side.

It was past ten at night at the moment, so the court was empty, except for the two friends.

"My mind is barely here. You're gonna crush me," Elody complained, as she held the ball in her hands.

"El," Jaydon walked towards her, he stopped right in front of her and looked down at her. "Just worrying about it nonstop is not going to make it finish faster, nor will it in any way, change the outcome."

The girl sighed. "Damn you and your logical thinking." She threw the ball at her friend; he caught it easily in one hand.

"And since when have you ever given up on a challenge, simply accepting defeat?"

The girl rolled her eyes. He threw the ball at her again; she caught it more smoothly this time. "Start," Jaydon demanded.

"Just for this," Elody said as she walked to the free-throw line. "I'm going to kick your butt."

She launched the ball towards the hoop and whooped as it glided in smoothly.

"Good game," Elody said as she wiped the sweat on her brow with her shirt sleeve.

"You're a good loser today. Why aren't you convinced that I somehow cheated?" Jaydon teased as he grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it up, wiping his sweat. It was summer; even the nights were warm in this polluted city.

"Shut up Jaydon," Elody retorted. The dark haired boy laughed at her as he let his shirt drop.

"It's eleven. Your mum must be home now. Let's head back," he suggested. He walked over to the old, worn picnic bench at the corner of the court to pick up his hoodie from where he previously discarded it.

Elody bit her lip as she made her way towards the broken part of the fencing. It was closer to their apartment when they went from here rather than from the main gate.

Shrugging on his hoodie, Jaydon followed.

"Honestly," the boy said as he lengthened his footsteps to catch up with Elody. "I still cannot believe, to this day that your mother actually did… that."

"Believe it or not, it's harder for me to believe it."

"But I guess it makes sense though," he said as he walked beside the girl. They were in a dark alley, it was scary to walk here alone, but it was much closer than taking the main street.

"She's practically gone every evening, and she comes back late at night," he said. "And she seems so closed off when she gets back."

"Goddammit Jaydon," Elody said her voice showing anger. "Can we not talk about it?"

"Sorry," the boy said silencing himself at once.

It was quiet for a while.

They walked along silently, the only noise, their footsteps echoing off the walls around them. It was barely lit here, just a light placed here and there, half not working, and the rest flickering continuously.

"It's my fault she did it Jaydon," Elody said quietly, breaking the silence. Jaydon could easily read the pain behind her voice.

"Don't blame yourself Elody," he said kindly. "You never asked her to do something like that… You didn't even know until recently."

"But Jaydon," the girl protested, she had clearly set her mind, she blamed it on herself. "My mum got pregnant with me when she was really young. She never got to finish school. She had to fend for herself and for me and she had no experience, no qualifications.

"I mean, if it wasn't for me she would never have had to leave school. She could've finished her education, gone to college and she could be living a very happy life now. She could have a good job, a normal family…

"If it wasn't for me, she could've taken care of herself very well with a waitress's salary," Elody finished off, her voice dripping with guilt and pain and sadness.

Jaydon pained for his friend. He put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her to him.

"Elody, listen to me," he said softly, yet harshly. He couldn't have her thinking like this. "You cannot blame yourself for this! You did not ask to be brought in to this world okay? It was a decision made by your mother. Just, no El, don't blame yourself, I'm sure your mum would say the same okay?"

The girl sighed as they entered the street their apartment was in.

"I guess," she said. What Jaydon said made sense, but deep in her heart, she still felt so guilty.

They walked in silence; Jaydon still had his arm around his best friend, comforting her, giving her strength.

They parted at Elody's front door. Jaydon bid her good night and walked to his apartment. It wasn't a long walk. His apartment was just beside hers.

He opened the door to be greeted by darkness. He thought that maybe everyone had gone to bed, when he heard the sob.

He immediately switched the light on. His mum was on the floor, her back against the couch, with her head on her knees. She tried hiding the fact that she was crying when she saw Jaydon.

She instantly wiped away her tears. "Where'd you go?" she asked trying to keep her voice casual.

That's when Jaydon noticed the swelling bruise on her face, and the blood on her lips. He swore as he crouched in front of her.

"Again?" he asked as he gently touched the bruise on her cheek.

"It's nothing," she said trying to be strong. "I've had worse." And that is when she broke down, her face crumbling, as the sobs escaped her.

"Mum," Jaydon said as he fell to his knees beside her and hugged her. He felt her gasp in pain as his hand touched her back.

He was flooded with pure hatred and anger.

Utter hate towards the person who inflicted this upon his mother. How he wanted to do the same to him, show his father the way he hurt his mother, over and over again. To show his father how he used to hurt him.

"Mum," he pressed, "You don't have to go through this. Just let me-"

She shook her head and pushed him away. "No Jaydon," she cut him off, "Not for me…"

This was what she said every time.

Leaving Jaydon on the ground, she pushed herself up. Jaydon noticed the way she flinched as she got up as hard as she tried to hide it.

"Go to sleep," she said warmly, as she touched his brown hair. "I love you."

He watched as his mother limped away towards the bathroom. He noticed how she tried to walk straight, but how she failed.

White hot rage rushed through him again. If his mother did not keep telling him to not do it, he would have thrown his father through a window years ago.

He had grown big enough to scare his father and to stop him from hurting him since he had turned sixteen.

He could stop it. He could have ever since then.

But his mother kept telling him not to. She did not want this family to be broken on her behalf… as if the family was not already broken. As if this family wasn't the definition of dysfunctional.

She said they needed the money he brought in. It was obvious how much they needed it, but was it worth what his mother went through every day?

He slammed his fist against the floor in rage. What he really wanted to do was drive that fist into his father's gut, show him pain the way he had shown him before. The pain he inflicts upon his mother every day.

But for now, Jaydon knew he could not do anything about it.

Author's Note- I hope you liked this! :)

Reviews are appreciated xx