The story is based on the spoilers I've read for the week beginning 26th Sept 2011. I'm sure it won't play out like this but that's the whole reason fanfic exists. I also want to say thank you for all the reviews on my last two stories, I knew people appreciate my more happier take on the boys relationship and I will continue with them, but for now this one shot was screaming out to be written.
I'm hesitant as I stand outside the vehicle, peering in past my own reflection to the young man sat low in the driver's seat. I'm scared and yet also relieved. We've been calling him for hours, neither me nor Chas getting any sleep and the guilt I've felt at abandoning Rhona and Leo doesn't even come close to the feeling of dread that has consumed and coiled in the pit of my stomach.
But he's here so this must be a good thing.
Chas and I deliberated calling the police, we've been genuinely scared that he's run off to seriously harm himself or more and whilst he looks exhausted and cold, things could have been a lot worse.
I tap gently on the window and watch Aaron start, he's knows I've been stood there and yet still seems shaken by that small disturbance. He looks at me, kind of and I wished he'd smile but he doesn't, he's just glazed over.
Late last night Chastity called me frantic, by the time I got over to the pub Aaron had run off. Chas was hysterical; she could barely get her words out to explain and when finally she managed to speak I'd just stood in shock, Aaron is cutting himself. She'd explained how she'd walked in on him with a razor blade to his stomach, she said that cuts covered him and she said that they were deep and barely healed. Aaron had just panicked and ran out of the house, which led to our all-night vigil.
Finally, when I couldn't stand it anymore I went back to Smithy Cottage and finally when I couldn't stand that anymore I went for a walk. I don't know if I was scared or relieved when at 7am I realised the garage was unlocked.
Aaron is like a son to me and he always will be, I'm not sure exactly when I stopped looking at him as the inconvenient blight that was ruining my life to the person I would give my life to. But at some point it happened and whilst it didn't work out with me and Chas, I'm glad that everything that transpired did, because it gave me him.
I slowly squeeze around the front of the car to get to the passenger side but with the garage doors shut there's not much room to maneuver and there's little natural light, the overhead one is on instead but it's dim and casts long shadows over Aaron's drawn features. He's barely moving and seems so small and shrunken, he's not been taking care of himself and it's now noticeable on his already slim frame. Opening the passenger's doors is even more of a mission, the door hits a shelf full of tools and it wobbles unsteadily, I also manage to kick an opened paint tin, previously Aaron would have found this comical.
You can categorize Aaron and my relationship into three distinct stages, the first was his utter contempt towards me when I couldn't do anything without him trying to humiliate me. Take for instance on my fortieth birthday when he read out that awful poem declaring my love for Chastity to a pub full of friends, humiliated doesn't come close. I think if it's possible I hated him then and I'm ashamed that I was able to feel that towards a kid. Thankfully after that things changed, this was our 'second stage', he moved in with me and whilst he never lost any of his cheek, the fond undertones in his words were evident. I remember the morning after his eighteenth birthday were I'd asked him if he'd 'loved his party' and he snorted at me and told me I needed to 'get out more'. I'm not sure exactly but I think there was a period of about six months were I relaxed around him, were whilst I know he was still a pain in the backside, I honestly thought that things were good. I was wrong, I was lulled into a false sense of security because after that six months grace he slide to the third stage, the stage where I am always worrying and scared for him. We've now been in that stage for about eighteen months. More than anything I want to return to that second stage, because there Aaron would have laughed at my usual calamity self as I wrestled with a car door whilst trying to enter it. Instead I get a kid who doesn't even seem aware that I'm here.
I climb in trying to make myself comfortable whilst also buying time because I know I need to speak, but I'm at a loss of what to say, Aaron just turns his head to look at me and he has absolutely no expression on his features.
"I'm not going to waste any time making small talk Aaron, your Mum called me last night and I know all about it." Aaron could kick off now and a part of me wishes he did, but he just continues to watch me, I want him to show some indication that he cares.
"How long have you been here?" He motions his head slightly to indicate he doesn't know, his body is faced forward and his head is looking towards me and even though he's at the wrong angle I can still see the blood, it stains his jumper.
I lick me lips horrified because there seems like a lot, "have you been cutting yourself whilst sat here?"
Aaron doesn't say anything, he just jerkily raises his right arm in a stiff and unnatural motion, in his hand sits a stanley knife that I hadn't noticed before. I'm not sure because the light is so dim but I think I can see blood on the blade and instantly I suck in a breath. When Aaron tried to kill himself I thought we'd hit rock bottom and that absolutely it couldn't get any worse and I really believed that it wouldn't. He seemed to be getting his life in order and Jackson seemed to make him happy. A lot of people noticed the difference in him, it wasn't as noticeable as anything like him having a massive smile plastered on his features, more in the quiet moments, Aaron seemed altogether calmer. And Jackson adored him and even though Aaron didn't realise it, he adored Jackson right back.
Not that he'd show it openly and you could be forgiven for thinking he didn't want Jackson around at all and there was even a point where I questioned why Jackson was hanging around. I got my answer about three months into their relationship, Aaron had just convinced Jackson to take him back after the whole 'Mickey incident' and things between them seemed to have calmed. They were sat together in the living room and I could over hear them talking softly from where I was stood in the kitchen, Jackson had finally got their holiday photos developed and was showing Aaron. I didn't know what they were saying but every now and again I could hear them giggling and when I peered round the door I was instantly warmed by the sight. The pair of them were sat really close to one another and Jackson had placed a photo of himself in front of his face and was enticing Aaron to lean in and kiss it. Aaron had given the image a chaste kiss in response and then blushed before shoving Jackson; it had made me instantly jerk back, not wanting them to know I was disturbing their playful moment. In that second I realised that just as I knew how wonderful Aaron was beneath his gruffness, so did Jackson and from then I completely got what attracted him.
I would do anything to go back to that time; Aaron has never been the same since. And even though his suicide attempt was truly awful, somehow cutting himself seems even more terrifying, it seems worse. I think it's because the suicide attempt was a knee jerk reaction, something that he didn't think about before doing it. Cutting himself is planned, it's premeditated, it's something he's figured out and realised.
Chas showed me this tin she found in his room, his 'kit' for want of a better word. There was razor blade, large screw and a piece of broken glass inside along with a rag covered in blood and a bottle of disinfectant, I'd almost been sick. This is what I mean by premeditated, he gone out and found what he needed to cause the most damage. I couldn't even be assured by the disinfectant as I know how much this can sting – it can easily be used to cause further pain.
"Are you still bleeding?" Aaron shakes his head and then drops the knife into the driver's door compartment. I can't help it, all I can do is stare at him, my mind can't focus.
"I'm ok Paddy." He's blinking heavily whilst saying this and internally I laugh hysterically because that's what you do sometimes when you're confronted by things you can't handle, outwardly I remain calm.
"Where did you sleep last night, here?"
I watch him lick his lips slightly, "yeah," his voice sounds hoarse and the word sticks in his throat and I wish he's shout and scream because then at least I could know how to deal with him.
"It's getting cold at night now, you must have felt frozen?" I can still feel the coldness in the car and I'm wearing a coat, it's early October and during the evenings the temperature cools a lot. Aaron just nods and this explains why he's holding his body so taught, I search for something to say, "Cain will be along soon to open the garage; he's going to wonder why you're here."
Its then that I see a flicker of emotion on his face and I realise its fear, he slowly lulls his head around looking and I'm not sure what he's thinking, "He doesn't know does he?"
"Cain." I'm not sure why this worries Aaron so much but he's started chewing on his lip, it's the most animated he's been since I found him, "Zak and Lisa don't know either do they?"
"No, but that's only because I found you, any longer and we would have had them out searching for you."
Aaron shrugs and I don't get why because either he cares or he doesn't, I don't get which, "Are you worried about them knowing?"
He swallows hard, "let's just keep this between us ok."
This is Aaron all over, don't speak of it and hope it goes away, keep things secret and then maybe they'll stay contained. Only this never works and before anyone realises he's locked himself in a garage breathing in fumes or sitting with his boyfriend pouring lethal amounts of drugs down his throat.
That will live with Aaron forever and I despise and pity Hazel for it. Some days I blame her completely other days she is the victim just like Aaron. Jackson is a different matter, I know how I feel about Jackson, I hate him. He wanted to die and had no right to drag Aaron along with him. Sometimes I get so angry that I am over whelmed with fury but this feeling doesn't last long because he is gone and even now I find myself in tears for his beautiful lost life and I know that he is just as much the innocent in this as the rest.
Jackson was beautiful, inside and out, even after his accident and every day I want to cry for him. I can still feel his skin beneath my fingers as I felt for his pulse, he was warm and slightly moist and this sensation doesn't match my perception of death. I think that this will stay with me forever.
"Why don't you want people to know?"
Aaron cocks a brow at me slightly, "They'll think I'm weird."
"They'll be scared for you and want to help."
I watch him close his eyes and settle his head back against the rest, "I don't need help."
Even when the issue is unavoidable Aaron will still always tell you he's fine, I'd pay a million pounds just to hear him moan like a normal teenager.
"Why don't you come back to mine, I'll make you a cup of tea."
"I'm ok." What do I say to that? He's covered in his own blood sitting in a darkened garage, am I meant to leave him?
We sit there for a moment and the silence drags on, "you know when I thought you were dealing drugs?" he doesn't move or motion that he even heard me but I press on anyway, "You remember that I didn't know what to do?" He opens his eyes and looks at me questioningly, "Well I went on the internet and did all that research, remember?" I can tell by the look on his face that he does and that he even knows where I'm going with this. "Well this morning at about 4am when I couldn't sleep, I did the same thing."
Aaron just continues to look at me not communicating how he feels about this, "I think I know why you're doing it and whenever you're ready to tell me, I'll listen."
He looks at me, "That's it?"
"You're not going to start yelling at me or making me promise not to do it anymore?"
Aaron scoffs whilst staring ahead, he seems so exhausted, "Mum did."
If it were that simple I'd do it, "I read that it doesn't help, I read that the most important thing I can do for you is to look after you and keep you safe."
He doesn't say a word, he seems speechless.
"Aaron," I dread the next words that are going to leave my lips, "can I see them please?"
He didn't expect that because suddenly he freezes and I can read it on his face how ashamed and embarrassed he is, "No Paddy," his voice has gone so small.
I want to reach out and wrap my arms around him, "please."
"Don't ask me that." He's started to shake and his voice sounds thick with unshed tears, he can barely speak.
"Please don't ask me that."
"Please Aaron," I lower my voice and all around me I feel this terrible tension, "please". The trembling increases and he's just staring at me desperately, "Its ok," I say as I reach towards the bottom of the zip up hoddie he's wearing, I'm going to lift it rather than unzip him, "It's ok," I whisper one more time and whilst he's terrified and holding his breath, he's still letting me do it.
He has slashes across his stomach and even in the dim light it's easy to see how bad they are. Some of the wounds are a few inches long whilst overs are tiny nicks and they are at various different points of healing, there are no scars which at least indicates he hasn't been doing it for long. I hold my breath and even whilst I study them I feel Aaron shake, I look up but he's scrunched his eyes up tightly, "Aaron it's really important that you keep these clean so that they don't get infected."
He still won't look at me, I just sit there watching tears fall from his tightly closed eyes, "there's also a chance that you can go into shock if you cut yourself too deeply." My attention is drawn to one of the more ragged cuts and I think back to the screw I saw in his kit, "did you know that?" I'm trying not to sound confrontational and I don't think Aarons taking it as such, either that or he's just incapable of reacting. "There's lots of information on the internet site I found, I'll give you the address." I lower his top and sit back, it's taken all my energy not to burst into tears or throw up, instead I look at my watch, "It's almost 8.30, Cain will be opening up soon."
Aaron opens his eyes and stares at me, his body is so taught and the shaking is really startling me, I'm worried and I know I need to get him somewhere to warm up, "come back to mine and have the cup of tea, Leo's there and you've not been to see him in a while, he's getting big now."
I think Aaron's nodding at me and I take immediate action, trying to maintain an air of calm I climb out of the car and walk round to Aaron's side. He doesn't move and seems ready to let me take control as I open the door and take his arm, helping him out because he appears boneless. Outside the garage I lock up whilst Aaron stands heavily against the garage door, his eyes are puffy from the crying and his hands are stuffed deep inside his pockets. I immediately take off my coat and wrap it around his thin frame because even though the sun is shining and it's warmer out here, he's still shaking.
"Come on," I say and wrap my arm around him for support.
Aaron says nothing.