A/N: Third and last part of this fic, covering the remaining three episodes of 14A. I took my own spin on Hero vs. Villain and the whole Triles break-up… I'm interested to hear what you guys think!

Hope you enjoy it :)

Chapter 3

After the incident with the car, things precipitated quickly. Quite surprisingly, the harshest stroke came from Tristan, the same Tristan who had miraculously forgiven him for the ugly words he had said at the intervention — words that, Miles knew, had hurt him deeply.

Truth is, Miles should have expected it. His own head was not in the right place to build a relationship at the moment, as he was constantly either too stoned or too anxious to care about anything else. Still, when Tristan confronted him in the middle of the hall about skipping the assembly, Miles really wasn't prepared for the outburst of jealousy that would follow.

"I'm surprised you're alone," remarked Tristan, and at first Miles didn't even understand what he meant. It quickly became clear that Tris was unhappy about him driving Maya to her appointment, the day of the intervention, as if that was a crime or something.

"So, you still have feelings for her?" Tris finally asked, and Miles was seriously taken aback by the question.

"Because I gave her a ride?"

"Because you stared at her across the hall, Miles."

And to that he didn't answer. He didn't even remember staring at Maya, truth be told, but that was beside the point. Because the thing is, Tristan thought he would do that, he thought that Miles would string him along while at the same time hanging out with Maya behind his back. And that hurt, more than he thought it would.

"Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me you don't have feelings for Maya," Tristan insisted.

But what was the point. He could have told him whatever he wanted to hear, but Tristan had already decided what to believe. He had already decided Miles was the bad guy, the manipulative one, the one who purposely hurt the people around him. A disappointment. Why bother, trying to change his mind. He was just the last one in the long series of people who left him, right after they saw a glimpse of the real him. So he stood there in silence, facing the boy he liked more than he had ever liked anyone, waiting for what was to come.

Tristan didn't disappoint, refusing to go down in silence. He didn't yell, nor cause a scene, but the words he carefully chose seemed designed specifically to hurt him as deep as humanly possible. He called him abusive. He called him a terrible person. And he stated in so many words what Miles already knew: he had nobody, and he was completely and utterly alone.

The silver lining in all this mess was that the elections were finally a mere few days away, so this whole nightmare was soon to be over. On Friday morning, the Hollingsworths were having breakfast in the patio. For once, their dad seemed to be in a good mood, which made it bearable for Miles to sit at the same table. The twins were making fun of their father for the latest interview he gave, and even Miles ended up joining in their laughter at the way he had tried to sound 'cool' to appeal to the youth. Adults were always terrible at that, and their dad was clearly no exception. It was a nice, light-hearted moment, of the kind that was so rare in the Hollingsworth household. So, of course, it wasn't meant to last.

Andrea — the woman his dad had an affair with, who also happened to be his campaign manager — walked in, fake-smiling her way and condescending as usual. She started briefing their father in preparation for the day's events, and Miles drifted off from the conversation until a sentence shook him back to reality.

"They may ask you about the Oomfchat cheerleading scandal," said Andrea, dead serious.

Their father laughed, clearly not having a clue what she was talking about, but Miles didn't miss the way Frankie's face dropped at Andrea's words. He kept scrutinising her as Hunter explained for their father's benefit what Oomfchat was and how it worked.

"And why on earth would anyone want that?" their dad asked, amusement in his voice.

"To send boob-shots?" Miles answered, and at his words everyone's face turned instantly towards him. "What?" He challenged them, "That's what the cheerleaders were doing for money!"

Their dad turned towards Frankie, asking her if she knew anything about the ordeal. She was quick to deny it, reassuring everyone that it was probably just a rumour, and anyway reminding them that she quit cheerleading a long time ago. Miles could sense something dodgy, in his sister's tone, but their dad seemed satisfied with her answer. Frankie's features finally softened as Dad kissed her on the top of her head.

"I'll see you at the forum today!" he greeted. He then pulled Hunter up from his chair, and as the two of them followed Andrea inside, Miles and Frankie were left alone on the patio.

Miles turned to his sister, a knowing look in his eyes.

"You got Dad fooled, but not me," he let her know, leaning towards her.

"Hey, I did work hard on this forum," she tried to muddy the waters.

Gosh, she was such a terrible liar. Miles felt a crippling feeling crawl inside him, as he braced himself to confront her.

"Oomfchatting your boobs for money!? I've known you for 14 years, Frankie. I know your lying face."

He saw said face drop once again at his words, and that was more confirmation than he ever needed.

"Ok, I did it once," she confessed, "But then I quit! What do I do?"

She sounded so desperate, and Miles's heart sank at the sight of her conflicted face. The thought of his baby sister selling boob pics was quite disturbing, but it was also beside the point. If any of this came to their father's ears, he would certainly turn all of his ugliness to her. And she didn't deserve it, not for one single, stupid mistake.

"Have you learned nothing from Dad's political manoeuvrings?" he asked, urging her to think, "You just need a scapegoat."

"Give them someone to blame…" she repeated, testing the idea in her head. Miles saw a glimpse of mischief reappearing, and took a sigh of relief. Maybe not all was lost, for Frankie.

"But better figure it out soon," he insisted, "because if you're accused then that 'epic fail' can take Dad's whole campaign, and then he'll hate your guts!"

He stressed the last few words, it was important that she understood. Frankie had no reason to fear their dad, based on her experience. But Miles knew all too well that, if any of this came to the surface, that would change very quickly.

And, in fact, not half a day had passed before all hell broke loose. It seemed that Miles's track-record of bad luck when it came to their father was now rubbing onto his sister. Someone had made a Facerange page outing Frankie as the mastermind behind the cheerleading scandal, and of course a reporter asked about it during the Youth Forum. Miles was not there at the time — avoiding all-things campaign and all — but he could only imagine how well that must have gone down, with their father. He heard from Hunter that Dad had dragged Frankie inside and locked the two of them up with Andrea to probably plan some damage-control. By the time Miles got home, Frankie was nowhere to be found. Which was understandable, obviously, but still made him a bit uneasy.

He had no clue what their dad had told her, but later that day he learned from Winston that Frankie had been really upset about it. Miles's stomach knotted in surprising new ways, imagining a bit too vividly the confrontation they must have had. He just hoped it hadn't resulted in their dad lashing out at her (or worse) because she didn't deserve that.

It must have been bad enough, though, because Frankie didn't come home that night, going over at Grandma's instead to avoid their father. He called her, later in the evening, to check on her. She sounded distressed, like she had cried a lot, and Miles's heartbeat raced to dangerous levels as panic overcame him. He tried to calm down, as he urged her to please tell him what had happened.

And she did.

And Miles finally let out a quiet sigh of relief and started breathing normally again because, yes, it had been ugly, and he felt for his sister. But not as ugly as he had feared.

"Have you seen Frankie?" asked Hunter, rushing downstairs the next morning. She was supposed to be back by now, for that stupid press conference in which she was to take the blame for the entire Oomfchat scandal like the good mayoral daughter that she was, and who cares if she didn't actually do it. To be honest, now that he was sure their dad had not touched her, Miles was starting to see the irony in how, for once, it was Frankie to screw up his precious campaign, and without even trying. Let's face it, a child pornography scandal was so much worse than anything he had ever done to cause trouble, he was almost proud of her. Besides, now that Frankie had witnessed first-hand how unpleasant their dad could be with those who disappointed him, maybe she would open her eyes to how less than perfect of a father he was.

But Hunter seemed actually agitated, spitting out broken sentences about how she had definitively ruined all of their father's chances to win the elections. Miles could not believe he would actually side with their dad on this, and he felt an urge to step in and speak up for their sister. After all, he had been in Frankie's position enough times to know how not fun being the screw-up was. And they should at least be honest and recognize who the blame belonged to, here: their father wanted Frankie to confess to something that she didn't even do, just to make him look better for the press. That's all that mattered, anyway, right?

"The guy's a jerk!" he finished, emphatically.

He had always been gifted with great timing, Miles, and in fact their dad walked in right that instant, sarcastically remarking he was glad to know that his son felt that way about him. He lost no time on it, though, and went on demanding to know where Frankie was, noting how she was supposed to be there already.

And Miles snapped, at that. Frankie was just a little girl, how could he be so hard on her? There had to be something that was more important to him that this stupid campaign!

Apparently not, though. His father's face fell, all of his frustration seeping through his features.

"Months, months I have been working on this, years, she will not screw it up for me!" he pleaded.

"You would rather be a mayor than a good father?" Miles hurled back, incredulous. Sure, he was used to his dad being a dick to him, but he never thought he would show this lack of care for Frankie's feelings. He wouldn't let his sister go through this, not if he could do anything to prevent it.

"Are you ungrateful?!" his father rebuked, "I give you kids everything!"

"Yeah, everything except your love, and respect, and even common decency!"

At this last outburst, his father completely lost it. Miles saw his face contort in rage as he pulled back to aim at him, and his instinct kicked in before he fully realized what was going on. He ducked on his side, avoiding being hit by the mug that had just been thrown at him. Seconds later, he heard it smashing against the wall behind him, the sharp sound filling the sudden silence.

He turned around as if in a dream, as his brain didn't seem able to process what had just happened. He saw Hunter, arms raised to protect his head, mere inches from where the mug had shattered. His brother's eyes were filled with terror like he had never seen before. This was bad, Miles thought, this was really bad. One thing was his dad yelling at him, but almost hurting his brother? What had Hunter even done to deserve it?

The silence was suddenly broken by their father's words. His voice was mellow, apologetic.

"Hunter… are you… Hunter, I'm so sorry…"

"As if you care who you hurt!" Miles screamed on top of his lungs, his shaken spirit hiding behind the aggressive tone. He was scared, he had never been this scared in his life.

The rest happened so fast, he didn't even have time to understand it. His dad, angrily talking down to him; Miles, taken by some sudden fury, trying to push him out of his way; and then the slap, sharp, striking him right across his face, the full force of the blow turning his head around.

All was silence, after that. He could hear his own heart racing in his chest, his blood pumping furiously through his temples. He could hear his brother, panting at the other side of the room.

"I didn't mean to do that," their dad feebly whispered, the only sound breaking the silence.

The right side of his face hurt, his cheekbone throbbing under the skin. Miles kept staring at the wall, his head still turned by his father's blow, intentioned not to look at him. He could feel that Hunter had also frozen in his spot; neither of them had moved as much as an inch. He felt completely overwhelmed. He was so angry, absolutely furious. And he was terrified, his body tense, as if preparing for another attack. And his brother, gosh, his brother... how could this have happened in front of Hunter? Being hit was bad enough, but in front of Hunter?!

The silence was finally broken by their father's phone ringing. It was the campaign headquarters, so he obviously had to take it, since that was the only important thing in his life.

As their dad left the room, Miles finally dared to turn around, slowly, to check on Hunter. His brother's eyes, wide and scared, were full of disbelief, unable to accept that their father would just leave them there after this to go pick up a phone call. And Miles hated his dad even more than he ever had, because it truly was careless, and cruel, to force Hunter to witness what had just happened and then drop him there like an unwanted bag.

He had to check on his brother, talk to him. Miles knew all too well how scary and confusing this all must be for him, how overwhelmed Hunter must feel right now. He walked up to him, getting so close he was nearly touching him. He had to be strong, for his little brother. He had to push back the tears, like he always did, control his voice, make sure it didn't sound too broken, or too scared.

"Hey… are you ok?" he asked, softly.

Hunter nodded back, visibly shaken. It was a stupid question, Miles knew it, but he had to say something. He had to let Hunter know that he cared, that this was not ok, that he would do better to protect him, in the future.

"That can never happen again," he stated, final. It was important that Hunter knew, that he understood.

He would keep him safe.

After that, Miles dragged his mum to his room, agitated, because this time he couldn't not tell her. This wasn't about him anymore, now that his brother had been pulled into the mess. It didn't matter how scared or ashamed he felt, Miles had to do something.

So he told her. He told her about the mug flying across the room, smashing on the wall mere inches from Hunter's head. She had to side with them, now, right? She couldn't just dismiss something like this, Hunter could have been hurt! But his mother just stared back at him with puzzled eyes, urging him to calm down.

"You're not listening, Mum!" he snapped. How could she not feel what he felt? How could she not be panicking, rushing to check on Hunter, hunting down their dad until he packed his bags and never came back?

"I'm just trying to get a clear picture, here, of what happened," she explained, a bit too calm for his taste.

"What happened…" he hesitated for a second, fighting the urge to keep this hidden. But he had to tell her, if it would protect Hunter, so he just took a deep breath and collected himself, "is that he hit me."

Unexpectedly, Miles suddenly felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. For over two months he had been hiding this secret, and he realised now all he had wanted was for her to know. Still, this was a huge thing, for him to tell her — to tell anyone, really — and his body tensed in anticipation for what her reaction would be.

"Out of the blue?" she finally asked, as if that made any difference. "That doesn't make sense!"

And Miles spirit fell. How could he have possibly expected this to go down any other way? The feeling of helplessness invaded him again as he stormed off, stepping back to put some distance between himself and his mother.

"I mean, was there an altercation...?" she went on asking.

"That shouldn't matter, I'm his son!" he tried to point out. He couldn't believe this was really all she had to say.

"I just find it hard to believe that he would deliberately and intentionally hurt you," said his mother.

"But he does, he does it all the time. He's a bully, Mum, he bullies everyone!"

How could it be so difficult to make her understand? Was this really just not a big deal? He couldn't believe that, not after seeing Hunter's face as the mug just missed him.

Just then, he saw that his brother was standing in the doorway, listening to their exchange.

"Tell her!" he urged him to speak up. Maybe if it came from him she would believe it, maybe she would finally listen.

Hunter seemed taken aback, and Miles almost regretted pulling him into this. It wasn't fair, none of this was Hunter's responsibility.

"I- I don't know, Miles did kind of push him first," his brother eventually blurted out.

Miles's heart sank in his chest. "Seriously?!"

"You did! And you've really been on him for being a bad dad!"

"Because he is! Open your eyes!"

But maybe Miles was the one exaggerating things, if even Hunter thought this was his fault. Maybe having a mug thrown at you was a reasonable punishment for being a smartmouth; maybe it wasn't his dad who had endangered Hunter: it was him. Both his brother and his mum seemed to think so, anyway.

"Look, why don't we talk about this when we've had a bit of time to cool off?" his mother tried.

Miles flinched away from her, appalled. Deep down he knew he shouldn't doubt himself — this was not normal. What if, while they waited to 'cool off', their dad hurt someone else? What if it was Frankie, this time? What if the next mug didn't miss?

"Whatever, keep your head in the sand," he conceded, defeated. "I'll deal with it myself."

Miles didn't even know what he expected, as he went to find his father downstairs. His heart was racing in his chest as he willingly locked himself in a room, alone with the man — after all, he'd spent the best part of the last couple of months avoiding him like the plague. But it didn't make any difference now, as he had nothing left to lose. His mother, his siblings, no help will ever come from them. He had to at least try and take care of things himself.

Unsurprisingly, his father tried to divert the attention, interrupting him to say how so sorry he was for this morning. Miles cut him off, this time, tired of listening to his crap and for once not letting him talk over him — no matter how many times he swore to love him and the twins. Miles knew it was all bullshit. There was no love for them, in his father, only convenience. They were just props, useful to his goals when they behaved, and deserving of being lashed out at when they didn't. And what was the point in him saying he would try harder? He had been saying that for months, it meant nothing by this point.

"Then what do you want, Miles?"

A tense pause followed the question, as Miles gathered the courage to speak up.

"I want you to move out," he finally said.

His father didn't even try to hide his amusement for the sake of appearances. "Of my own house?" he asked, sardonic.

"You're hurting your family," Miles said, simply.

"Ok, you know what, this is getting a little bit much," his father rose from his chair, "So I think we're done."

Miles felt panic growing inside him as his father approached him. He tried to explain himself, get him to listen, but his father kept talking over him, his temper rising.

"Do you want to listen to yourself? Because you're talking nonsense, as usual!"

"Stop, STOP! This isn't nonsense!" Miles fought back, desperate for the man to hear him.

"Do you maybe think that you are the problem?" his father attacked, and his tone made Miles's blood freeze in his veins. "That maybe your exemplary behaviour has caused your sister to think that it's ok to run away from her responsibilities?!"

Miles's own rage got the best of him at those words. His vision got blurry as he fought to keep himself together, to block out his father's accusations that everything is always your fault. God, Miles wanted to hurt him, so bad. But he didn't, in the end. No matter what, he was his father, and Miles just couldn't hit him. As he watched the man leave, completely disregarding him as the loser that he was, Miles could feel the tears burning at the corners of his eyes. He couldn't believe how often he found himself thinking this, in recent times, but this was the absolute lowest he'd ever been. He'd hit rock bottom, and there was no way out of here.

Completely defeated, Miles fled back to his room. He felt utterly alone, and as helpless and hopeless as he'd ever been. There was not a soul, in this house nor on this planet, who would ever stand up for him. Everyone left, got tired, stopped caring as they got a glimpse of the mess he was. And why should they stay? His father was right about him all along. There was nothing lovable about him, just a big, hot mess that could only create destruction and cause pain to others. And why on Earth would anyone want that?

He paced up and down his room, fists tight as he unsuccessfully attempted to calm down. He needed to get out of this house. He needed to get far, far away from his dad, somewhere he could start fresh, without his looming presence over his shoulder. His mind went to the twins, to how awful the mere idea was of abandoning them like this. Truth is, though, without Miles around there would be no danger; their dad wouldn't constantly be mad, and they would be safe.

Miles walked up to his desk and grabbed a pen and paper. There would be no time for proper goodbyes, but the least he could do was write down some sort of explanation for them. He doubted they would miss him, but they were still his siblings. He owed this much to them. Words came out in a flow, and before he realised it he had written two full pages. He stared briefly at his own handwriting, but soon snapped out of it, folded the letter and sealed it in a blank envelope. He knew if he took the time to read it back he might lose the courage to do what he needed to.

In a rush of adrenalin, Miles grabbed a duffle bag and stuffed it with a few essentials. With one last look to his room, the bag in one hand and the letter in the other, he set off. One last stop at Degrassi, to see the twins one more time. Then, the unknown.

He didn't know it then, but that would be the beginning of the end.