AN - Well... I did get this in faster than the last update. Not as fast as I would have liked obviously, but its better than a year. What I am going to try to do is to write all of the remaining chapters all at once before I forget the storyline again. Its going to be a crappy draft so I will have to go over it a few times before I send it to my beta. This could mean, on one hand, that it might be a long while before the next update. If I do it this way though, the story will be completed and I will upload the remaining chapters all at once. I've never done it this way before so I won't know if it works. So the best I can say is I will see what works the best and thank you to everyone who has been reading this for being so patient with a busy (lazy) writer like me.=)
Also, just to let everyone know, if there are any mistakes in this, they are my own. I have a wonderful beta, but I am prone to still missing things she pointed out.
Reason 12 - Aftermath
Walsh had a dislocated arm and a few bruised ribs, but was otherwise unharmed and in good spirits after he was put on Vicodin. He didn't come to school the next day but showed up the following Monday, arm in a sling and wincing when he moved too fast.
"I'm fine, Noah," Walsh insisted, though he sounded pleased to be getting the attention. "Really. That's why we all came after you, so we could stop them from taking you."
Noah pressed his lips together. Jason had explained to Noah that the werewolves probably kidnapped him because they wanted to turn Noah, but it was far too risky to deal with a new werewolf in enemy territory. Werewolf packs existed everywhere, though one so organized was rare in America. Noah wasn't sure why but the last part seemed to unnerve Jason.
The halls were abuzz with passing students, but the major commotion from the following week had been kept within a few small groups. Noah was surprised that the entire school didn't know. Walsh wasn't the only one who was injured – half of the soccer team had injuries, and Matt and Night hadn't been to school since the event.
"Walsh, what happened to Matt and Night?" Noah asked. Darryl was fidgeting behind him, having taken up the mantle of guiding Noah around for the day, as he had since Noah was kidnapped.
"You haven't heard from them?" Walsh said, frown in his voice. Noah shook his head. "Well, they're fine. Matt had to get some stitches and Night got a concussion but they're both ok."
The warning bell rang, and Walsh excused himself, promising Noah he'd talk to him later. Darryl started nudging Noah towards their shared class, but Noah just stood idly in the hallway, letting the other students pass him.
The last few days had been a maelstrom of emotion and confusion. Noah had to deal with his family's worry and unease along with his own anxiety. Despite being exhausted, Noah hadn't slept well since the night of the event. He was afraid of so many things now – of his own abilities, of what had happened to Walsh and Matt, but mostly of the werewolves coming back. The uncertainty of what had happened to Emil and the voice made Noah afraid of the random noises he heard occasionally in the night, and he often found himself sitting up in bed listening and trying to discern the creaks in the night. Taylor and Adam weren't a comfort, because behind their relief, Noah knew they were angry. Their sudden refusal to escort him around the school was proof of how furious they were. Noah had felt bad in the wake of his kidnapping, especially when he saw how terrified they were. That feeling however withered away at the cold shoulder they gave him and Noah felt further indignant when he remembered how smothered he was under their protection, having to lie in order to talk to his friends.
"Noah, we have to go to class," Darryl said. The second bell had already rung and the hallway was empty. Noah sighed. He considered telling Darryl to go ahead and leave him, but Darryl had Taylor on speed dial. Reluctantly, Noah walked along with Darryl to their classroom.
Noah didn't focus at all in class. If he could, he would have stared out the window. It was cloudy today, and he knew because of how cool it was outside, as well as the lingering moisture in the air. Even without being able to see it, the day's weather was affecting his mood.
Class passed by without Noah knowing what the teacher was talking about. He left his last class when Darryl pulled him along and they ended up at his locker, Noah letting Darryl put away his Braille book. School was over and Noah didn't know how he felt. He wanted to see Matt and Night, and hear from them himself that they were alright. It wouldn't happen though. As much as his brothers insisted on treating him coldly, they wouldn't leave him alone for a second, having their own cliques watching Noah constantly.
At the end of school, Noah was traded to Taylor who barely said a word to him. They walked to Taylor's car, and Taylor held open the door for Noah, slamming it after Noah climbed in. Noah scowled behind his glasses and gripped his walking cane harshly. He was sick of this. Even if the things that happened were partly Noah's fault, they were Taylor and Adam's as well. And Noah resented them for their over-protectiveness now. It was almost ironic that now that Noah finally wanted them to treat him like he could take care of himself, they had any intention but.
They drove in silence, because Noah refused to be the first to break it. As soon as they were home, Noah got out of the car. He practically ran into his house, skipped steps up the stairs and entered his room. Slamming the door, Noah took in deep breaths and leaned against the door. He was tired, and gravity was tugging his eyelids closed. Exhaustion wouldn't put him to rest though, and Noah knew that if he tried to sleep he would sit back up and listen for Emil's voice or the creature's growls.
Noah gasped, a sob caught in the back of his throat. This scenario was familiar but the last time Noah felt it, he was in a blackened alley, exhausted and alone. He wouldn't cry this time though. Crying would be like going back to that alley, and Noah refused to go back in time.
"A phone?" Noah asked, running his fingers over the cool plastic screen. Jason had put the device into his hands as soon as he entered the living room.
"We programmed it so all you have to do to call us at home is to press the one button down," Jason said. He helped Noah slide the phone open so Noah could feel small keys on the bad, Braille engravings on each of the buttons. "Your brothers' phones are also plugged in as numbers four and five."
Noah pretended that mentioning his brothers didn't bother him. "What about two and three?"
"Your mom's and my personal phones. Now, I know you won't like it but this isn't supposed to be a way to infringe on your privacy," Jason rummaged through his pockets and pushed another device into Noah's hand, "but your mom and I would be really happy if you wore this."
The device was made out of plastic as well, and it was attached to a wide band of soft fabric. A large button rested in the center of the plastic, and Noah knew what it was without Jason explaining.
"Don't they give these to old people they are afraid will fall?" Noah asked, voice neutral.
Jason sighed. "Don't see it like that. Your mother and I… we just don't want to endure such a thing again and if you are ever in trouble and feel like you are in trouble, then you push that button and we can track you."
Noah played with the strap. He wasn't really against it actually, it gave him a small peace of mind he had lost and maybe he would be able to fall asleep. He didn't want Jason to know that though.
"If I wear this, can we lay off with the guard dogs?"
Jason's confusion was palpable to Noah. "Guard dogs?"
"Taylor and Adam."
Jason's parental mediating flared out, and he crossed his arms across his chest. "Noah, they are just worried –"
"I want to have a life. I want to have friends of my own, and I want to pick who escorts me around."
"Noah, I don't know."
"You think Taylor and Adam would have been able to save me had they been there? If it weren't for the entire soccer team intervening, there would be no way they would have been able to take on all those monsters."
"Actually, they were outnumbered to begin with. It was you who ended the fight."
"So why won't you stop treating me like a child?"
Jason deflated. "You are my child."
Noah said nothing to that. He knew where his dad was coming from and knew why he was worried. Noah was worried, terrified in fact. He didn't remember how to stop himself from jumping at loud noises. However it didn't stop him from knowing that he couldn't live with his brother's dictating his life, especially if they were going to completely restrict him as they had been.
"Alright," Jason exhaled. "You can find a different escort if you want, as long as you wear the bracelet and keep your phone close. However, I have to clear whoever you choose."
Noah rolled his eyes but as long as Taylor and Adam weren't given a say, he felt the compromise was more than okay.
"So who do you want as your escort?" Jason pulled Noah into a one-armed hug and dragged him to the kitchen. Noah let himself be ushered to the table where he sat so he could face Jason.
Noah mulled over Jason's question for a minute. He hadn't really thought about it. His motivations were purely to get away from Taylor, Adam, and their tyranny but now that he was thinking about it, there were only a few people he could think of that he would want to hang around all day.
"Matt… or Walsh," Noah responded. Jason paused.
"Matt or Walsh… unless you have a problem with them."
Jason stood thoughtfully silent for a second before he said, "No, not at all. Taylor and Adam won't be happy though."
"They don't like that Matt was with you when the… um, thing happened. And because Evans Walsh is a friend of his, they have come to dislike him by extension."
Noah scoffed. "Of course they would. I finally find friends on my own, and they don't like them."
"Well, your brothers also have a problem with Matt because of his connection to Night. They've always believed those rumors about how he was the reason why you lost your sight. They don't trust that family even if they have been peaceful for over two decades."
Noah hummed and listened to his father as he started to do the dishes. The sound of running water was calming, but Noah couldn't allow himself to relax. He was exhausted, in a place so far beyond tired that he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep when night came. It was a depressing thought, but Noah couldn't help but wonder if he would ever be able to sleep properly again. He continued to wallow in his own thoughts when he felt hands on his shoulders.
"What's wrong?" Jason asked, voice on the verge of edginess. Noah shook his head, attempting a smile.
"Nothing," he replied. The chair next to him screeched along the hard-tiled floor until it was right in front of him. Noah heard the chair wheeze in protest as Jason sat in it.
"No, none of that 'nothing' business," Jason insisted. "Tell me what's wrong. You have that look on your face."
"Just… tell me what's wrong?"
Noah considered lying: his parents were already worried enough searching for the werewolves; they didn't need to hear about his problems. Besides, what would they do? Noah remembered the first few months after he lost his sight – how he couldn't sleep and how they put him on sleeping pills. The strange nightmares and the numbed feeling he got from those pills were enough of an experience for him to never want to go on them again. Lying, therefore, seemed like Noah's only option.
Except that he couldn't lie to them, when they were so worried about him.
"I'm just tired," Noah tried. It was half true at least.
Jason didn't say anything right away. Noah wasn't able to get a good grasp on what he was feeling either even with his father right in front of him. He blindly reached out, as though touch would strengthen his abilities to understand what Jason was going through. His fingers met the back of Jason's hand, and at the touch, Jason took Noah's hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
"You're afraid," Jason said and Noah stiffened. "I've been so worried about you getting taken away again I forgot that you were kidnapped and what that must have done to you."
"Dad, I'm –"
"You are not fine. You are nowhere near fine." Jason sighed, and Noah felt his father's self-hatred swirl around them in a thick mist. "Noah, I'm sorry."
"It's nothing," Noah shrugged.
Jason squeezed his hand harder."It's not nothing. I should have helped you."
"And what can you do?" Noah dreaded his answer as much as he was longing for it.
The chair screeched again as Jason stood up and marched away from Noah. Noah heard the beep from their house phone and then the dial tone coming from the other side of the room.
"What are you doing?" Noah asked.
"I may not be able to protect you every moment of every day, but I can protect you inside my own house."
Noah frowned and tried to get Jason to explain but he would not. He went into his room with the phone, leaving Noah with only his thoughts. Tabitha arrived at home, grocery bags crinkling loudly as she asked Noah where his father was. Noah told her and she too disappeared into their bedroom. After trying to eavesdrop and failing, Noah sighed and considered listening to the TV. His watch told him it was 3:18 which meant it would be at least another forty minutes before his brothers would be home.
Noah began to search for the remote and cursed his brothers for not returning it to the designated spot on the coffee table. His hands were between the couch cushions when the door to his parent's bedroom swung open. Noah was about to ask them what was going on when his mom scooped him up into her arms.
"Mom?" Noah asked, her heavy sadness raining down on him. Tabitha didn't say a word though, just pulled Noah even tighter against her.
"They'll be here soon," Jason said. Reluctantly, Tabitha drew away from Noah, but kept a firm grip on his arm.
Confusion hit Noah first; Walshes? As in more than one? Yet despite his uncertainty, Noah couldn't help but hope that he knew whom Jason was talking about.
"Yes, Walshes. That's their last name – your friend goes by his last name."
Jason didn't respond, his muffled footsteps disappear into the kitchen.
"Are you okay, sweetie?" Tabitha asked, her voice soft.
Noah nodded. "What's going on though?"
Tabitha pulled Noah onto the couch so he was level with her. "I'm sorry – your father wants to cast a shielding charm around your room so no one can break in. I could cast it but the more people there are to make the spell, the stronger and more intricate the spell becomes."
Noah accepted her answer, feeling a bit like a small child listening to how tornadoes work. He was getting used to this magic stuff, mostly because it was the only way he could see, but there were moments like this when he just felt annoyed at his lack of knowledge. Everything he had learned so far had been through his own experimentation or whatever others have taught him.
Jason was a whirlwind of action, flying all over the house, though doing what, Noah hadn't figured out. Tabitha left Noah on the couch to go to the kitchen. Noah could hear bottles clinking together loudly as she pulled them out of a cupboard and soon the house was filled with the musty smell of incense.
It wasn't long before the doorbell rang, stopping Tabitha and Jason in their tracks. From his place on the couch, Noah could feel three different auras emanating from behind the door, though two he immediately recognized.
"I'll get it," Tabitha called out. Noah got off the couch and walked over to the entryway just as Tabitha opened the door.
"Hello," Tabitha said, smile in her tone.
Uncertainty filled the room, coming mostly from Walsh. Ela stood there as well, though Noah felt more excitement from her than uncertainty.
"Noah!" Noah found his face caught in the curve of her shoulder as she hugged him. Noah's arms instinctively wrapped around her when she inadvertently knocked the wind out of him. He nearly choked on her hair when he drew in the breath but otherwise smiled as she clung to him.
"Hello Tabitha, Noah," A deep voice said, deep enough to startle Noah. His imagined image of Emil came into mind and he shuddered. Thankfully, Ela was too engrossed in their hug to notice.
"Thank you ,Greg, for coming over so soon," Tabitha said, letting Walsh and Greg in. It wasn't until the door clicked shut that Ela let go of Noah.
"Noah, it's been ages since I've seen you," Ela said, beaming at him happily. Noah took note that his mother and Greg had left, probably to go find Jason. "Well, I saw you last week when you were, um… you know. But you didn't see me – nevermind. How are you?"
"I'm…" Noah hesitated. He found himself constantly asking this question to himself: should he lie or not? "…fine."
Ela's disbelief was palpable in the air and Noah knew immediately that he had made the wrong choice.
"You are not fine. How can you be fine? You were kidnapped for fuck's sake! And now we have to cast a shield charm because you are not fine!"
"Ela, chill," Walsh muttered.
"You chill," Ela huffed, but Noah sensed her indignation begin to deflate. "You look terrible, Noah."
Noah managed a weak smile. "Thanks."
"Not like that. I mean you look good but even for looking good you just look horrible."
Walsh laughed and dropped a hand onto Noah's shoulder. "Way to kill some self-esteem, Sis."
Ela was poised to argue when Tabitha called for her upstairs. Noah felt the weight of her stare before she ran off upstairs leaving Walsh and Noah alone.
"Ok so now that your second mother just left us," Walsh cleared his throat, "how are you really doing?"
Noah decided to focus on something else and the first thing that came into his head made him scowl. "Taylor and Adam are being world-class assholes."
"They are worried about you."
"A lot of people are worried about me but they aren't being assholes about it."
Walsh exhaled heavily out of his nose. "Well, they are really pissed off at me, because I helped you get away from Darryl. So I'm not too far from disagreeing with you, but I'm a little biased." Walsh deflated, his body sagging against the wall and Noah finally noticed how tense he was, his aura pulled taut around the air like a rubber band. "I wish I could help you Noah, really. But Taylor has you on lockdown and I don't think he's going to change."
"He won't," Noah agreed, though he couldn't keep the smugness out of his voice. "But my dad has decided to let me choose who escorts me around the school, and I've chosen you."
"Me?" Walsh sounded genuinely surprised. "Why me?"
"Well, you don't have to, obviously," Noah back-pedaled. "But I would prefer you to help me around. Darryl's nice and all but he forgets sometimes that I'm blind."
Walsh snorted but there was something bothering him. Even with the bright aura that Noah had come to associate with Walsh, Noah could see something dark swirling around in there. "Don't get me wrong, Noah, I would be glad to escort you."
"But?" Noah's hopes were dashing away quickly – he was going to be stuck with Darryl and under Taylor and Adam's control.
Walsh hesitated. "Matt never told me what you two talked about."
Noah's heart quickened. He licked at the roof of his mouth that suddenly felt very dry. He had forgotten about his talk with Matt the day he was kidnapped, mostly because he thought that Matt would blame himself for the attack. He wanted to talk to Matt again, convince him if he had to, but with Matt gone from school and Taylor fixing his schedule, Noah was helpless.
"Well," Noah said softly, unsure where to begin. "What exactly do you want to know?"
"Matt is my best friend. I can't… ignore him. He'd want me to, especially if you asked but –"
"Whoa, I told you before," Noah said, holding up a hand to stop Walsh from talking. "I don't hate Matt. I would never ask you to ignore him. If anything, I had to beg him not to ignore me."
Walsh exhaled deeply, his breath a gust of wind over Noah's face. "Really?" He sounded hopeful, excited, like a kid who was promised a lollipop. Noah nodded and was immediately squished in Walsh's arms.
"Oh, I'm so relieved." Walsh let go of Noah quickly. "When Matt wouldn't talk about it I thought something horrible had happened."
Noah's mood darkened and so he couldn't take part in Walsh's relief. "Something horrible did happen."
He didn't mean to ruin Walsh's mood, but he knew Walsh understood. He was afraid of Matt withdrawing again, of blaming himself and of becoming more self-loathing than he already was. Walsh grew quiet in contemplation.
"Do you think we can… double team him?" Walsh said hesitantly and Noah scrunched his face at him.
"What?" Noah asked.
"You know, I pick you up tomorrow for school and we can force him to listen to reason because I will use child locks or something." Walsh was pleased with his half-baked scheme, and Noah couldn't find much reason to argue with him.
"So Matt's going to be at school tomorrow?"
"Yep, he plans to."
Noah smiled despite himself. He was going to see Matt, and he prayed that nothing would go wrong this time.
The spell took several hours to place on Noah's bedroom, and all the while, Noah listened intently to the chants being hummed upstairs while he and Walsh watched TV. Walsh didn't see what was so exciting about it while Noah was riveted. He found himself longing for his sight, so he could watch the spell being cast.
"It really is boring, Noah," Walsh said as he flicked through the channels. "They hum and pray and make a mess with herbs and salts, and that's it. Nothing too fantastic like your little display."
Noah's mouth narrowed. He was afraid of himself for what he had done and was careful to control his anger now that he knew what he was capable of. It was what was stopping him from blowing up at Taylor or Adam.
"What did it look like?" Noah asked. Walsh hesitated and dropped the control onto the couch. Noah pressed his lips together and quickly put the control on the table.
"It looked like – how do I explain it? It was like an explosion of blue lightning, like a force field, only I didn't feel much of anything when it passed."
Noah nodded, trying to picture the scene in his head. He knew what Matt looked like now, thanks to Night, though the image was beginning to fade into a distant memory. Noah tried to cling onto it, but certain details kept evading him, like the shirt Matt was wearing or what expression he had on his face. It was aggravating and thinking about a blue wave passing harmlessly over a blurry Matt was giving Noah a headache.
The door to the house clicked closed, tugging Noah out of his thoughts. Walsh went stiff besides him, and the air around them grew cold and insidious. Noah was too startled to notice the change right away, but when he did, he felt Adam's cool aura go red in intensity in a flash.
"What the fuck is he doing here?" Adam spat. Noah spun around in his seat, throwing a threatening glare in Adam's direction.
"I was invited," Walsh retorted calmly, though Noah could detect a hint of malice behind it.
"Well, I'm uninviting you," Adam snarled, and Noah almost shivered from the sheer hostility that rolled off of him in hot waves. Grasping onto his own anger, Noah shook his head at Adam.
"You're not the only one who lives here," Noah responded, feeling all the fury he had been hiding over the past few days color his words until he was almost spitting them out. "If you don't like it, go away."
Adam's rage only grew until it saturated the room. Noah wanted to snap at him, and tell him to learn some self-control, because Adam's rage was only adding to his own.
"Get the hell away from my brother, you –" Adam's words left him as he reached for Walsh and grabbed him by the collar. Walsh snarled, jerking away and letting baser instincts take over. He growled at Adam much like his wolf self would, and between the two of them, the air was heavy with anger, annoyance, and bloodthirst. Noah felt it, heavy on his tongue until he was almost choking on it, forgetting which part was their rage and which was his.
"Fucking dog, get lost," Adam snarled.
"You're just jealous that even on your best day, your brother still prefers me to you," Walsh said, his teeth gritting together audibly.
Noah sat up on his knees between them, fighting the emotions that threatened to swallow him. "Enough! Adam," he rounded on the other, facing his direction ,"Walsh was invited by Dad. If you don't like it, then take it up with him or shut up."
Adam seemed further incensed by this information. He paused for a moment, probably staring at Noah before he ran up stairs, skipping steps in his anger.
Walsh's ire drained from him and he collapsed onto the couch. "I'm sorry, Noah."
Noah nodded his head in understanding. He let Walsh calm down, heard him taking deep breaths when another storm of wrath seeped in from upstairs. Noah sighed; he knew Adam and Taylor would have a hard time dealing with the change in escort. He hadn't imagined though that just seeing Walsh would drive them crazy.
Noah shook his head – Adam was just one of the people he would have to deal with. He still had yet to see how Taylor would react.
"Geez, no offence Noah, but your brother really is an asshole," Walsh laughed humorlessly.
Noah sent him a foreboding look.
"We still have yet to see Taylor's reaction." Noah felt Walsh's whole aura shudder.
Taylor ended up taking the news as well as Noah thought he would, which was not well at all. Jason had enough sense not to tell either of Noah's brothers until the next day, when Walsh showed up in his black SUV. Taylor was fighting with Jason when Noah left discreetly, exiting the house before anyone but his parents noticed they were gone.
"Hey," Walsh said cheerfully. Noah motioned for him to hurry up, waving his arms trying to shoo him away until Walsh grabbed hold of him.
"What's wrong?" Walsh asked.
Noah shook his head. "Just hurry." Walsh didn't argue with him. They walked quickly down Noah's walkway, and Walsh helped him in the vehicle. Before he knew it they were driving away from the maelstrom of tempers. Noah drew in a deep breath, enjoying the cool air that was not tainted with ferocity and anger.
Walsh sighed. "Your brothers found out, didn't they?"
"Yep. They'll get over it."
Walsh's aura was tinted with uncertainty but he didn't comment on it. Noah wasn't so sure himself that his brothers would get over it – they seemed determined to be angry, especially after last night when Taylor had come in and seen Walsh. He hadn't been as antagonistic in his behavior, nor as passionate as Adam, but Noah could tell that he had been livid and being told that Walsh was to be his new escort must've added insult to injury.
Noah shook his head; he wanted to forget about his brothers. He had other problems to worry about and ones that didn't look quite as impossible to solve. "Where's Matt?"
"I agreed to pick him up," Walsh said. "I didn't think it would be good to pick him up first, because if he suspects anything, he might jump out of the car and run away."
"He wouldn't – would he?" Noah asked.
"Oh, I don't know what's going on in that boy's head." Walsh sounded like such an overwrought stressed parent that Noah almost laughed.
The ride to Walsh's wasn't awkward and Noah was grateful; he couldn't remember the last car ride where he didn't want to scream and rip his hair out. When the car stopped, Walsh got out, telling Noah to try and hide before he slammed the car door. Noah couldn't decide if he was kidding or not.
It wasn't even a minute before Walsh and Matt's muffled voices reverberated through the car doors. Walsh's sounded urgent and Matt sounded worried. The back door opened and Matt yelped as Walsh pushed him in before slamming the doors. Matt swore loudly, calling Walsh a myriad of unsavory names. Several seconds passed before Matt noticed Noah in the passenger's seat.
"Hi," Noah said, face spreading out into a smile.
Matt's breathing was slightly out of tune as he tried to grasp the situation.
"Noah, I –" Matt stopped when Walsh climbed back into the driver's seat of the car. "Walsh, you asshole!"
Walsh was beside himself with triumph as he turned the keys, letting the engine roar to life. The doors clicked, signaling the child locks were in place. Matt let out an undignified whine and hit his head on the back of Noah's chair repeatedly.
"You're so dramatic," Walsh said, rolling his eyes. "For Christ's sake, you would think Noah was going to murder you."
"I am going to murder you," Matt grumbled, stopping with his self-abuse. He shifted in the back seat, moving to the middle so he had a good view of both Walsh and Noah."How are you?"
"I'm great actually. Vicodin is really effective," Walsh said happily.
Matt's irritation flared out briefly, just enough to touch Noah's consciousness. "I was talking to Noah."
"I'm fine," Noah answered. "How about you? No one ever said what had happened to you."
The car started moving, it's pace much slower than when Walsh had been driving to Matt's house.
"I – I'm okay. I just got a scratch."
Walsh gave out a forced laugh, and the leather of the steering wheel squeaked as he squeezed it more tightly. "A scratch? Those were werewolves we fought, Matt… a scratch? You are so full of it!"
Matt gave a harsh kick to the back of Walsh's chair. "Shut up." In retaliation, Walsh reached back with one hand and punched Matt, hard from the way he yelped.
"Ok, stop," Noah demanded. Both of them stilled and while Noah could feel the tension between the two, he was grateful they listened to him. "Matt, what really happened after we were taken?"
Matt sighed and rubbed his hands against his jeans. "After the werewolves caught us, I used some of my abilities to get away. The creatures chased me and I did get away, but one of them tried to claw at me first and he got a good swipe at my chest." Matt huffed but quickly continued, "But it was a shallow wound and I'm fine. It's Night who we were all worried about."
Blood filled Noah's ears, and he turned around fully in his seat, tugging the seatbelt out of place. "What's wrong with Night?"
"He was trying to stop the leader from getting to you and he wasn't successful," Matt said simply, but his dark tone belied something else. Noah turned to the space he knew Matt was in and frowned.
"Night is alright, isn't he?"
Walsh was silent, listening intently. Matt cleared his throat. "He'll be fine. He just… hit his head hard." Matt huffed angrily and leaned forward. "Okay, you know what? Nevermind. Noah, Night hurt himself stopping one of the creatures from hurting Taylor. He saw the thing go after him and he jumped in the way. It hit him against a rock, and he had already been injured earlier."
The car went quite save for the sounds of the engine growling. Finally, Walsh asked, "Has he woken up?"
"Yeah, he's fine. He scared the shit out of my uncle and mom for the first few days because he wouldn't wake up, but now that he's awake, he's annoying the hell out of everyone. He's grumpy because he has to be woken up every four hours."
Noah let go a breath he hadn't known he had been holding. Night was alright and Matt seemed fine as well. They were injured, and Noah felt guilty for it because they had gotten hurt getting him back but he was still grateful that they were alive and well. Relief washed over him like a cool wave and Noah let himself soak in it; he could wallow in self pity later for causing all this trouble, but for now he would sit in the tide of respite he was given and relax.
"Matt, you better not blame yourself for all of this," Walsh started, his tone gruff and demanding, not at all like his usual self. "If it weren't with you, this same thing would have happened with any one of Noah's brothers or, hell, even Darryl."
Matt was silent. When he didn't say anything for a whole minute, Noah began to think of ways to convince Matt. He was saved the effort when Matt finally broke the silence.
"I know that," Matt replied quietly. "I –I'm not going to blame myself." The sentence sounded like a personal promise, and Noah smiled to himself.
"Good," Walsh said, satisfaction etched happily into his voice. The car turned once more before it came to a stop. Walsh jiggled the keys out of the ignition and clicked his seatbelt free. "We're here."
Noah reached for his seatbelt but froze midair as something struck him as unusual. He pushed the restricting material free and climbed out of the car quickly, intercepting with Matt before he could pass by. Matt froze, and Noah could imagine the other frowning at him.
"Is something wrong?"
"Why did you –" Noah stopped, unsure how to ask the right question. He gathered his thoughts and tried again. "Before, you were saying that Night just hit his head but then you went into detail, and it sounded like you weren't going to before."
Matt inhaled sharply, but Noah could feel the satisfaction rolling off of him. "Night wanted me to be vague with you. But Night doesn't keep my secrets and I'm not going to keep his, especially when he's become this self-pitying bastard."
Noah frowned. "But I don't understand."
"I'm – okay, I'm not going to just tell you right out what it is. It took me a long time to figure out what it was that Night has been after all this time and I would like it if you figured it out too."
"And… what you just said… that will help me?" Noah narrowed his eyes.
"You had to be there, to see Night get knocked down because the moment I saw him hit that rock, I knew." He paused, as if to let the information sink in. "Think about it, Noah. He's doing everything he can to protect you so much so that he's gotten himself injured. If you were an outsider, what would you think?"
Noah frowned. "He feels guilty?"
"For what? I was the one who caused your blindness."
Noah racked his brain. "If I didn't know any better I would think he was in love with me." He started at his own words. "He's not, is he?"
Matt laughed. "No, he's not. But just think about it. You aren't the only one who he's protecting."
Noah wanted to ask more questions, wanted to demand answers because he was dumbfounded as to what Night was getting out of all of this. Despite Night's meddling and secretiveness, Noah felt a strange affection grow for the annoying demon and it only made him more curious as to what was going on in the demon's head. His intended onslaught of questions was cut off before it could start when Walsh grabbed his arm.
"Where's Darryl?" Matt asked.
Walsh stood still long enough for Noah to pull out his retractable walking stick and a pair of sunglasses more suited for school. Walsh radiated joy, and he practically vibrated next to Noah.
"He's no longer escorting Noah, I am," Walsh declared. Matt was stunned motionless. It took him a second, but Matt regained his wits and faced Noah.
"Your brothers are going to be pissed."
A blast of cold silent fury hit Noah's back like a blizzard and he had to fight not to shiver. He wasn't sure if Taylor was in the parking lot, or if he was in a classroom, watching Walsh help him and he didn't care. The day was looking bright and Noah couldn't even see it. Instead he basked in the sun, letting the rays hit his face as he smiled at Matt. Another icy blast chilled him to the bone, but Noah forced the smile on his face to stay. He was beginning to wish that he had brought a sweater with him today because he had a feeling that Taylor wasn't going to let bygones be bygones anytime soon.