A Small World
I took a step back, gripping my chest. It felt as if the room was spinning a hundred miles a minute.
No. Absolutely not. Impossible! It was impossible! My dad was not abusive! He never hurt me! He never… hit me… at least. He… well… he had always acted like he wanted to hit me but always held back. He had tried to only once because he was drunk. But… since it was that once, I forgave him. He couldn't have seriously thrown a bookshelf on top of Kieran. Kieran couldn't have been my brother! Wouldn't I have known if I had a brother? And… we looked nothing alike! This made no sense!
"Kieran," Cyrus breathed, taking a step forward.
Kieran, shuddering intensely, went to grab for the doorknob but the sweat forming on his hand made it slip off the metal and he lost his balance, falling onto the carpeted floor.
"Please," He pleaded, as my father took another step closer to the helpless blonde. "Stay away from me. Please, don't hurt me!"
"Kieran," My father reached his hand out slowly. "I won't. I—"
Suddenly, Amir flung open the door, probably hearing the commotion, and gripped Cyrus' wrist tightly, forcing it away from Kieran. Amir slammed my father hard against the wall, wrapping his strong hand around his neck.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" The thug hissed, scowling at the dark-haired man with venomous eyes. "You don't EVER lay a hand on him. You got that?"
"He's my son," Cyrus protested, grimacing at Amir, staring at him with the same intense look in his eyes. "I have the right—"
"You have no right!" Amir pulled Cyrus off the wall and then slammed him into it, once again, knocking the breath out of the older man's lungs. "People like you deserve to die!"
"Stop," I whispered, putting my hands over my ears, tears filling my eyes. One of Noah's arms had wrapped around me in consolation as I inhaled, my head spinning with confusion and fear. "Please."
"Do you want me to stop them?" Noah whispered quietly, in my ear, his breath warm and sweet.
How would Noah be able to stop them? Looking down, I recalled some fragments of the story Kieran had told me. 'He used to be one of the strongest members of our gang.' Now was the time to see if that story lived up to its full potential.
I nodded with desperation, tears spilling over my eyes, running down my cheeks. As Noah let me go and walked towards the quarreling men, my eyes drifted off toward Kieran. He was staring at me with wide, tear-filled, eyes, his chest rising and falling, coarsely. I held out my arms and he scurried over to me, jumping into them, crude gasps escaping his throat. I held him tightly as he hid his face in my chest, murmuring words that I couldn't decipher over his blubbering sobs.
"You're a sick person!" Amir's voice was booming with anger and he was repeatedly slamming my dad into the wall, with as much force as he could.
"I'm," my dad whispered, his consciousness dwindling. "I'm not…"
"Amir," Noah's stern voice cut in like a sword. "Let him go."
"This guy hurt Kieran!"
I gulped at the penetrating glare that Noah dispatched. It was as if he was a totally different person. I had never seen Noah give off such a dangerous vibe. But yet, I still felt safe, like nothing in the world could cause me harm. I wondered if that's how Kieran felt with Amir.
"No! He's going to get what he deserves!"
Noah wrapped a hand around Amir's wide arm, his glare unwavering.
"I'm giving you one last chance to listen to me."
The silver-haired man grinded his teeth together and then, moments later, released Cyrus.
"You're lucky you came in," He whispered, turning his back toward them. "He would've been killed."
I stared with wide eyes, my grip on Kieran tight and shaky. So it was true. Even Amir was intimidated by Noah.
"T- Thank you," Cyrus sighed, looking up at Noah with grateful eyes. The brunette glared at my dad, pointing a tan finger at him.
"You're not off the hook," he snarled, shooting auburn daggers at the dark-haired man. He nodded and awkwardly looked away. I felt Kieran's body still shaking in my lap and I kept my arms around him protectively. I couldn't believe it. I had grown up, looking up at my dad as some role model, even after him and my mother divorced when I was 5.
It was only until 2 years ago that we had reunited. When I saw him, though, it was as if I was meeting a stranger. He looked so much different than he did 13 years ago. Instead of the short, straight hair he had when I was little, it had grown down to his shoulder blades and was pulled back into a loose ponytail. Dark circles had formed under his eyes but I never knew if he had them before. As a toddler, his eyes were always covered with shaggy bangs. He never cut them short, no matter how much my mom complained how ridiculous he looked.
And that's what always started the fights. My mother would criticize my father, he would criticize my mother and then it would just blow up into this enormous argument over something pointless. Sometimes, their fights would get so bad, they would start hitting each other, and one day, mom just couldn't take it anymore.
My mother walked into the living room as I lay on the couch with my dad, watching the morning cartoons. Her arms were crossed over her chest as she blurted out, "I want a divorce."
I, at the time, had no idea what a divorce was, but from the looks on my parent's faces, I could tell it was not a good thing.
"What?" My father laughed, no humor could be found in his voice. "You can't be serious."
"Does it look like I'm joking?"
She stared at the bruises that caked her arms and looked up at Cyrus, her eyes low and sad. My father's hands gently reached under my body and pulled me off of him.
"Fine, then," His voice was like ice, filling the room with an uninvited chill. He stomped up the stairs and a few moments later came back down, accompanied by a large suitcase. "I'll be back for the rest of my things tomorrow."
I ran up to him, tugging at his pants' leg, staring at him with innocent eyes.
"Daddy," I repeated. "Where are you going?"
My father kneeled down in front of me and kissed my forehead, gently.
"Carson," he whispered, putting his hands on my shoulders and looking into my eyes as his welled up. "I doubt I'll get custody so I'm going to say this now. I love you, son, and I always will. Don't ever forget that."
And with that, he stood up and left the house.
I ran for the door, my breathing becoming uneven.
I was screaming now as my mother grabbed me, from around the waist, restricting me from any advancement. Sobs escaped my throat as I tried to escape my mother's arms.
"DADDY! DON'T LEAVE ME!"
"You're better off without him," My mother shrieked, over my redundant cries. "He's gone!"
My eyes opened slowly, focusing on a blurred figure hovering over me.
The image cleared and Noah was staring at me, his features impersonal.
"N- Noah," I whispered, sitting up. He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me back. My head hit the pillow, softly and I stared at the brunette with wide eyes.
"What are you—"
"You need to rest a bit longer," Noah stated, his eyebrows creased in a stony glare. I nodded, relaxed a bit and closed my eyes. Had that meeting with my father been a dream?
"Noah," I breathed, gripping his hand. "I had this insane dream—"
"It wasn't a dream," Noah interrupted, pulling his hand away. My heart contracted at the coldness in his voice. "Your dad's unconscious on the couch and I made Amir and Kieran leave. You fainted, probably from the shock of finding out that, well, one, you're dad has some abusive tendencies, and two, Kieran's your brother. That must be a lot to take in."
I stared at Noah. So the whole thing did happen. But what was up with him?
"Are you ok—"
"I'm leaving," Noah interrupted, once again. My heart started racing with paranoia.
"What?" I grabbed the brunette's arm before he could get up. "What do you mean, you're leaving?!"
"You'll be safer without me here."
"That's not true!" I screamed, grabbing his arm with both my hands. "I can't lose you!"
"You don't understand—"
"Stop! Stop telling me I don't understand!" I sounded hysterical, but I couldn't stand losing Noah, especially now. "Are you an idiot?! Don't just up and leave me without at least telling me why!"
Noah stared at me, his facial expression impassive, but his jaw was set as if he was holding back an aggravated scream.
"I'm just like Amir," The gangly brunette muttered. "Maybe even worse."
"S- So you're a thug," I whispered, shakily. "So what? What does that have to do with us?"
"I told you," Noah hissed. "You don't understand. I'm not just any thug. It was only a couple years ago that I was head of a gang. Amir was part of it. I have murdered people, I've done… horrible things that I regret. I eventually realized that I couldn't live my life as some mindless killer. I left the gang and then I met Alana, who let me stay with her as the rumors spread that I left town. I slowly changed my ways as I became more docile, got a real job, and tried to forget the past. But the day I saw Amir attacking you, the aggressive part of me slowly started to edge back into awareness and it hasn't gone away since."
I gawked at Noah, unable to speak.
"Carson, listen to me," Noah demanded, his voice sounding irritated. "Word's going to spread. The local gangs are going to find out about my return. You won't be safe with me around. I need to go."
"Wha--?" I jumped for Noah as he began walking away. "You idiot! Don't go! Please!"
"I'm sorry," Noah whispered. "I have to keep you safe. I couldn't live with myself if you got hurt on my watch."
Something snapped within me. Anger boiled up, like a ticking bomb setting off inside me. My head was spinning, my mind vacant of the data that made me function right. It was as if my body and mouth moved all on their own, a separate person. My hands came forward, aggressively pushing Noah back, toward the door. His eyes watched me with confusion.
"I hate you!"
No. I love you.
"Get out of my sight! I never want to see you again!"
Stay here. I don't ever want you to leave.
What the hell was I saying? I didn't mean it! I didn't mean any of it, but I couldn't stop these words from pouring out of my mouth.
"You don't mean that," Noah mumbled, sadness filling his voice. "Take it back."
I stared at the ground, unable to answer, my lip quivering.
"Please," Noah begged, moving forward and holding his hands in mine. "You didn't mean that. Carson, I'm just trying to keep you from getting hurt."
I'm already hurt, Noah.
"Get out," I whispered, ripping my hands from his grip. Noah's eyes widened in shock, his hands falling to his side hesitantly as he stood, awkwardly frozen mid-step.
The brunette lowered his head, clenching his hands into fists.
"Fine," He growled, coldly, opening the door. "If that's what you want."
I stared as Noah slammed the door shut behind him, harder than necessary.
Once he was gone, I threw my hands to my head and slowly sunk to my knees as tears streamed down my cheeks.
"Damn it," I whimpered, setting my jaw. "What have I done? Noah..."