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Hello, readers. As usual, yes, I am still at this story, and no, I will not write anything else until I am good and ready at the end of this series. Thank you again for reading.

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Chapter 78: Old Wounds

Merrick blinks slow and heavy as he lies there, in bed. His grief-stricken body will not allow him to even fathom the notion that what he has found out is merely a nightmare… He can tell it’s morning, maybe noon, despite the heavy overcast outside that still carries rain, blocking out the sun entirely.

Adam is in a coma… Simple as that. With several broken bones and injured organs. It seems like he can’t even breath on his own, or else something else might break.

Merrick whined as he curled tighter in bed, letting out a small whine as he pushes himself up. Just then, his cellphone starts to ring. He doesn’t even check the number as he answers it.

“Hello…”

“Hey, Merrick? It’s Nick, you… You aight, man?”

“No…” Merrick closes his eyes, “I’m sorry, I know I’m late for work… I will be there in a while.”

“No, it’s fine, Merrick. I think you better stay home today, maybe tomorrow too.”

“I missed a week, Nick, I need to come in for work.”

“Don’t worry about it man. I know what happened, I want you to take it easy. It’s called vacation time, take some time off.”

“That only applies to full-timers.”

“I know… Just please, Merrick, I’d rather you come in when you’re… Better, you know?

“Aaagghhhh…” Merrick sighed, “Fine…”

“Aight, hang in there, man. Lemme know if you need anything, ok?”

Merrick just hangs up. He put his phone down as he gets up to climb out of bed. Everything seems so surreal. He can still feel his heartbeat agonizingly vividly.

“Fuck… Why does everyone treat me as if I am weak… Haven’t I always said I was raised better than that…”

He walks slowly out of his bedroom, and entered the living room. He walks to the DVDs next to the entertainment center. He wants… SOME kind of background noise… Anything better than this silence…

His finger traces slowly by the titles, movie by movie, before his slow search leads him to the TV collection.

Everybody Loves Raymond… He’s so full of shit, he can’t stand him.

Scrubs… The last thing he needs is to watch a show about…

I Love Lucy… Maybe. She will always make things easier on some level.

Titus… No, not tight now…

Doctor Who… Too many options to choose from in that one.

Torchwood… A little more tense than what he wants right now…

Queer As Folk.

Merrick stops. His finger a centimeter away from the first jacket of the Queer As Folk DVDs. His insides take a dive from the mere thought of the first season… Justin trying so hard to earn Brian’s affection, settling for whatever he could get, never afraid to jump for anything. Such a brave kid… And look what it did to him…

Brian gives a calm smirk to the grinning blonde twink just after giving him a slow, light kiss. He’s such a kid. He gently tugs on the white scarf as Justin slips back a little.

“Later.” Brian calmly said, playfully and casually twisting the slip of white before letting go. Justin scoffs a silent laugh like a disbelieving schoolboy, having earned another wonderful gesture from that arrogant, sexy, cold, and charming man.

Justin turns and walks while Brian climbs into his car. He allows a smile as he looks into the rear-view mirror, watching that young lover stroll down the parking structure, both hands playing with the Italian silk scarf as he goes.

Just then, someone else walks behind Justin. Another student from the prom dance, clad in a tuxedo, just like them. He strides behind Justin, wielding a baseball bat.

Brian’s face turns as he immediately jumps out of his car. “JUSTIN!”

Justin turns with a gleeful look on his face.

CRACK!!

He is whipped to the ground in one fell swing.

Brian sprints as the attacker suddenly turns, and is shoved to the ground. The wooden bat clanks onto the concrete. Brian seizes the bat, and doubles after Christ Hobbs, giving a hard hit to his right knee.

“OOOHHHHhh!!” Chris yowls, “GODDAMMIT!! Aaahhhh!”

Brian drops the bat, and runs back to Justin’s body and goes to his knees, looking on him, “… No, nonononono…” He mumbles quickly as he tries to pick him up, or trying to examine what’s broken.

Merrick’s vision blurs as he looks at the many DVD choices, his insides starting to dampen and burn at the same time. It’s a fictional show. With fictional characters. With fictional scenarios.

His eyes blink closed.

IMPULSE

“Hahh hahh hahh hahh…” Merrick pants as his right arm feels strained, he can feel himself shaking. He just blinked, what happened?? The doggie door flaps from a sudden exit, with a chinkling sound ringing in the outside air.

He takes a step back, feeling a few objects slide from his feet, and casually looks down onto the floor. The entire shelf bahis firmaları has collapsed onto its side. Almost all of the movies have been scattered over the immediate area.

Merrick’s ears ring and buzz as his panting and quivering arms suggest what has just happened.

~~~

*Beep… Beep… Beep…*

Adam lies there, with his eyes closed and an oxygen mask over his mouth. His pulse keeps a steady line and rhythm, still half covered in bandages. Some of the color has returned to his skin after the long night of careful tending.

“The transfusion went over well,” Yuri says to Donna and Luther, who are looking very exhausted, “Right now, his lungs are still very weak; scrapes of the muscle tissue is still threatening his stability, so we’re going to keep him on a respirator until his condition gets better.”

“How… Just how many of his ribs were broken??” Luther asked.

Yuri winced as she hissed, “… About 4 or 5, give or take…”

“Oh my Goddd…” Donna whimpered as she covered her mouth.

“Dear Jesus…”

“I-Isn’t there anything more you can do, Yuri, please,” Donna begged, “W-What if he punctures a-“

“D-Donna, Donna, I know… Believe me, I know.” Yuri eased, “We really are doing everything we can. But if you want to know the truth,” She sighs as she shakes her head, “Realistically speaking, Adam should’ve died a long time ago.”

“HHHnnnh” Donna whines as she begins to cry again…

“Yuri!” Luther hushed defensively as he holds Donna in his arms as she turns to him, “How can you even say that?? H-He’s still breathing and living, isn’t he?”

“Luther, all I’m saying is that considering everything that’s happened, things could be so much worse. That he’s made it this far is nothing short of a miracle,” Yuri said as she shakes her head to display her mild disbelief, “If the internal bleeding didn’t kill him, the blood poisoning could have, or an infection from the surface injuries, the trauma he took to the head alone should’ve at least-“

“Alright, alright!” Luther hushed harshly as Donna wept, “You’ve made your point…”

“I’m sorry.” Yuri apologized, “I know this isn’t easy for you… Or any of us, really…” She sniffed as she wipes her eyes. “Whoever did this to Adam, they were going for the kill, in my opinion…”

“Did they at least catch the guys who did this to him??”

“Only a couple.” Yuri answered, “Jamal says a few, so I’m guessing 3 or 4. One of the cops who reported arrested two of the attackers. Weird enough, he happens to know Adam and Merrick.”

“Where are they now?”

“As I was told, the two men they arrested are currently under custody and recovery.”

“Recovery…”

“Jamal beat them pretty bad…” She says with a glance, “And they’re in a different hospital, under watch. When they’re well enough, they’re being taken to court.”

“Court??” Luther lets go of his wife, and walks a few steps forward, “Are you seriously saying there’s a trial about what happened?? They should already be in jail!”

“Luther, I am not a cop or lawyer, I am only a doctor.” She says with her hands up.

“Hhhh…” He sighed, “You’re right, I’m sorry…”

“C…Can we go to him now?” Donna asked through her tears.

“Yes, just be careful…”

“Alright, lets go honey…” Luther holds her shoulders as they approach the door. They come in, and walk to the side of Adam’s bed. He just lays there, motionless, the only indication of life coming from him is the constant beep of the monitors. Donna gasps as she looks at her child, choking on emotion.

“Hi, sweetie…” She whines as she reaches down, and very delicately holds Adam’s hand, his thumb, middle and index fingers in firm splits. “Oh honey…”

“My God…” Luther muttered as he looked to Adam’s other hand, which is enclosed with a cast for his broken wrist, “Oh Son…” Luther sat down, breathing heavily, “Ah Adam… What the hell did they do to you?”

“Luther, what happened at the party??” Donna sobbed, sniffing harshly, “Who would… Ghhehh…”

“I don’t know, I don’t…” Luther sighed as he gulped his dry throat, “I had to leave by midnight to get a taxi for the plane…”

“I knew this would happen,” Donna said, “I knew, I just knew… B-But Iiii…” She stammers and cracks in her talking, “I forgot all about it…”

“I don’t think anybody saw this coming, Don…” Luther said, “Do you… Do you think we should have tried?”

“Tried what??”

“You know… Before he moved here… I was thinking about…” Luther nodded slightly, indicating something. Donna gasped and shook her head.

“No!! No, no, we never! Even though… Ghhh…” She cried a little more.

“I know, I know… I just, you know… I can’t help but think…”

–12 Years Ago–

Luther walks through the hall of the large office. He comes up to the clerk in his coat, addressing a stern-looking woman, “Hello, I am Mr Luther Bryant, I’m here on call about my son, Adam?”

“Yessir,” The madam nodded, before gesturing her hand kaçak iddaa to the hallway, “The Principal’s office is that way.”

“Thank you…” Luther said as he turns, and walks. He travels down the wall, and to and area where there are about 6 chairs next to a door with a distorted window labeled [PRINCIPAL]. He walks onto the carpeted patch, and immediately spots someone to his left side in a chair.

“Aw Adam…” Luther huffed as he looked at the disheveled teenager, “Not again…” Adam looks away to the floor. Several scraps can be seen around his skin, holding a cold pack onto his right arm, and a couple of cuts covered with bandaids on his face. Opposite him is a different kid. He is of the same age as Adam, with a couple of tears on his shirt, a few red dots here and there, and holding an ice back over his left eye. “And where are YOUR folks?” He asked rhetorically.

“Dunno…” The teen answered lowly.

Luther takes a deep breath, and goes to knock on the door. “Yes?” Comes a male voice.

He opens the door, and walks in, “Hello, Mr Cloake.”

“Oh, Mr Bryant, sit down.” He indicated.

“Should Adam be in here with us?” Luther asked as he comes in.

“No, no, not this time. Frankly, I,” The mid-aged man takes a moment to take off his glasses to wipe them, “I can do without the outbursts in these meetings.”

“Meetings?” Luther asked, “Sir, this isn’t a meeting, this is my son being referred to the office.”

“Yes, but this has been happening one too many times, Mr Bryant… Matter of fact, just once is too many.”

“I understand, but what I’d like to know what is being done about this.” Luther said.

“We are already doing what needs to be done about these incidents, Mr Bryant, but the problem still keeps persisting.”

“Mr Cloake, with all due respect, all I’m hearing is Adam telling me what happens with one of these fights. I’ve asked you this before now, is Adam the ONLY one being punished here?”

“I assure, the penalties have been dealt, consequences have been stated, but I am afraid we are being pushed here.”

“Penalties have been dealt?” Luther repeated, “Alright now. Please, tell me about these penalties, so I can get these stories straight.”

“Both parties have been placed into detention and referrals. We have been monitoring the situation, but nothing seems to be improving.”

“That’s because nothing’s getting done!” Luther said, “What is this, the Fifth? Eighth time Adam’s gotten into a fight? And what about the other kids? Aren’t there witnesses? Because from what Adam tells me, he’s the only one getting punished.”

“Mr Bryant, I’ve already established this with your wife.” Mr Cloake said, “We’ve already identified the conflict. The problem is with your son.”

Luther sighed with premature exasperation, “Alright, sir, just tell me. Exactly what as my son been doing?”

“Well, for st-“

“Because I know my son.” Luther said, “He has never been the sort to start fights. He’s always gotten good grades, I’ve always heard good things from teachers from previous years. So I’d like to know how Adam is the problem.”

“Alright, to put it simply, it seems to come from the fact that your son has recently ‘Come out of the closet’.”

“Right.” Luther said, staring into the principal’s eyes, “That’s been suspected. But I still want to know what is being done about these fights.”

“Mr Bryant, your son is presenting himself as a problem. Instead of informing any of the faculty staff about any harassment, he choses to instigate these fights.”

“Oh no, that is not what I’m hearing.” Luther shook his head, “See, Adam’s been telling me that he has told his teachers about these things. He DID ask for someone to do something about these fights. But they’re either not listening at all, saying they will but haven’t, or when something does happen, it starts all over again next week.”

“I am sorry, but it is one word against another, and after today’s incident, I’m afraid I have no other choice but to take further action.”

“Further action? What does that mean?”

“After today’s fight, Adam drew blood on the other student. I have no choice but to suspend him from school.”

“Suspend?!” Luther repeated in disbelief, “Is that really necessary?? Are you suspending the OTHER kid too??”

“Both parties are being suspended, yes.” Mr Cloake nodded, “Mr Bryant, these sorts of incidents require… Adjustment.”

“I… Hhmm…” Luther sighed, “I understand what that means, but it does seem you are punishing my son for defending himself.”

“I have too many claims that it was he who has been starting these fights, as a matter of fact.” Mr Cloake said, “When a student starts a fight, we need to-“

“Alright, I think that’s enough.” Luther said, holding his hand up, “I’ve had enough arguments to know we’re just going around in circles.” He adjusted in his seat, and leaned forward, “How long does Adam have to be suspended?”

“One week.” He answered. “And according-“

“Fine.” Luther interrupted before getting kaçak bahis up. Mr Cloake gives him a low glare from cutting him and this meeting short, “Thank you for your time then.” He turns around, goes towards the door.

“Mr Bryant.” The principal said, “I am obligated to warn you. If these fights continue to happen after the suspension, we will have to consider expulsion.”

“Wait, wait, expulsion??” Luther turns around, “You’re going to expel Adam for this?”

“If nothing changes,” He shakes his head and holds his hands open, “Further action is required. I am sorry, Mr Byrant, but these are the rules.”

“Right… Gotta say, things do look really downhill since I was in school.” He commented. Before the principal can say something else, Luther opens the door, and leaves.

~~~

Luther and Adam drive in silence in the car. Adam keeps his eyes out the window, sulking in disdain and guilt as he glares at the afternoon sun. Luther keeps glancing at his son as they go. He takes a deep breath, and tries to come up with some kind of talk.

“Look, Adam…” He really has no idea what to say what he hasn’t already said, “Mr Cloake keeps telling me that you’re the one starting these fights.”

“Dad, I didn’t.” Adam groaned, “They keep making fun of me, and no one’s helping me-“

“Alright, alright, calm down.” Luther said firmly, noting Adam raising his voice. “I realize this is frustrating for you.” They turn the corner to the next street, “Listen, Adam. These scrapes need to stop.”

“But I’m not doing it!” Adam protested again, “They won’t leave me alone!”

“I know, I know, but something needs to put a stop to this!” Luther said, “Look… You know me and your mother will always love you… But… Maybe you might want to rethink about this whole… Gay thing.”

“What do you mean, Dad?”

“Well… In light of all that has happened… Maybe this isn’t really the right time to be gay.”

“D-Dad,” Adam looked at him with a hurt look, “I’m already gay, it’s not like I really know how I can NOT be gay.”

“I know, I know son, but… The other kids can’t really see it from your point of view, and I know that’s not your fault,” Luther is really grappling here, “But maybe, I think you should take a little time to maybe…” Luther shrugged, “Put off your life choices, until maybe AFTER high school?”

“I-It’s not a choice, Dad.” Adam’s voice cracked, “I already came out, I can’t just tell everybody I was kidding or something!”

“Adam, I’m sorry, just, just…” He takes a deep breath, really having no clue what to say here, “Just promise you’ll think about it, ok?” Luther nears their home by a few blocks, “Maybe discuss it with Paul? See what he thinks?”

“… Fine…” Adam submitted, drooping back in his seat. He doesn’t even want to talk to his boyfriend right now…

The car pulls into a parking spot on the apartment. Both of them get out, Adam leaving his backpack behind before striding away from his father, and going up the stairs.

“Wait, Adam, you forgot your backpack!” Luther called, but no response. He follows suit with the pack, but his son is already unlocking the door, “Adam, wait a minute-” The teen power walks from him, and swiftly retreated to his room, “Adam!”

*SLAM!*

“Dammit.” Luther frowned.

“What happened?” Donna asked in an undertone that says ‘What did you do now?’

“Adam got into another fight at school.” Luther says, dropping Adam’s backpack at the base of his door.

“What was it this time?” Donna doesn’t even look up as she goes through the paper battleground of the table.

“What do you think?” Luther huffs as he goes to the table, and sits down. “Kids are still picking on him for coming out.”

“Oh great.” Donna says as she sighs, putting her hands on her head and closing her eyes, “I really can’t think about this right now…”

“We’re going to have to, it’s getting worse.” Luther says as he adjusted, “Donna…” She looks up at him, “This time, he’s suspended.”

“Suspended?” Donna blinks in disbelief, “Adam?? But he’s such a good student!” She shrugged around, “He’s always been good in school, why would they suspend him for a few fights?”

“They take a very serious view on these things Donna. You know Adam’s detentions and referrals have been getting more frequent.”

“Isn’t he just-“

“Ignoring the other kids doesn’t work, Don.” Luther cut her off, “He keeps taking a stand, and he’s getting punished for it.”

“My God… This is all we need.” Donna said as she scrambled the envelopes and papers.

“It gets worse, Don.” He said as she pauses again, “The principal told me that if this keeps up, they’re going to expel Adam.”

“Expel?!” She looks at him with shock “Isn’t that a bit harsh??”

“That’s what I said, but the principal won’t listen. He says they’ve been very lenient with Adam as far as he’s concerned, and they’ve had just about enough.”

“Oh my God…” Donna whines as she leans forward and holds her head, “He can’t get expelled, Luther, he can’t. There’s no other schools around here, they KNOW that…!”

“I know honey… I know…”

“Is that why he just stormed off?”

“That and… He’s mad at me…” Luther sighed.

“Mad at you? Why?”

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