Only You - Cartel

Two weeks later

Kyle wrung his wrists as he paced back and forth. He alternated between glancing at his smartphone and glancing at the clock. Neither of them showed him what he wanted to see.

"Young sir, if you don't take a seat I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave." The nurse's voice reached Kyle's ears and pulled him out of his mania but only briefly.

"I-I'm sorry." He mumbled and plopped down, only to grab his phone and frantically dial Amber's phone number again. The nurse eyed him wearily before taking a seat herself back at the station. As Kyle listened to dial tone, waiting, hoping, praying that this time Amber Carmichael would pick up her godforsaken cellphone, he glanced at the other poor souls in the waiting room. Families and significant others alike waited to hear the news.

"Kyle Mathers?" A doctor peeked out from behind the proverbial double doors leading into the various patient rooms and offered Kyle a smile. "She'd like to see you now."

Kyle felt a small smile of relief spread across his face and allowed the phone to slide from his ear.

Amber pressed accept, shoved the phone by her ear and held her breath - only to be greeted by the three tone beep that meant the call was ended. She sighed loudly and let her hand hang limp, the phone falling onto her pillow with a dull thump. It was all for the better. What was she going to say to Kyle? Or worse yet, Katie? Sorry I disappeared for a month, I could hardly stand to be around myself much more other people. Even if it was the truth, it was no excuse for deserting her best friend in her time of need. Amber didn't know why she answered the phone. She supposed she was looking for some reason, any reason not to go through with her plan. But the phone call abruptly ending before it could begin was a sure a sign as any that the days of running had come to an end. Either Amber was going to call it quits or she was going to go back out and face the world - neither solution seemed optimal, but one of them definitely provided an end to her misery.

"She said what?!" Kyle exclaimed, raking his fingers through his downy curls, his baby blue eyes stricken with terror. Katie, on the other hand, the deliverer of the news, was quite calm.

"She said there is a 75% chance that I am pregnant." Katie spoke plainly, her legs crossed and hands folded over the hospital gown she wore that barely covered her ass. Kyle looked like he was going to faint. He raked his fingers through his hair a couple more times, paced to and fro and then finally decided to give it a rest and plopped down on the edge of the hospital bed where Katie sat. Katie looked at him and smiled.

"How can you be so... so serene right now? I feel like I'm asphyxiating." Kyle barely whispered, and Katie looked away and chuckled. She'd had a feeling he was going to ask that. She lifted up her fingers, still interlaced and flexed them.

"When I drank that water with Craig and the world started to spin, I immediately knew I'd made a grave mistake. But the world was slipping from my grasp. The drug - whatever it was that he put in the drink when I wasn't looking - it didn't knock me out totally. I just couldn't control my body, couldn't form full thoughts, couldn't concentrate long enough to do so... I thought to myself "This must be what hell is like." And I found myself thinking of you." Katie looked over at Kyle and this time, it was his turn to see the emotion flickering behind her green eyes. It was a strange mix he never thought he would have gotten from another person in his lifetime - apart from his mother. He fought the urge to reach out and tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear.

"I imagined you sitting at The Bowl, getting progressively pissier and pissier." Katie said and burst into laughter, which Kyle reluctantly joined in on after throwing her a scandalized look. "And I felt a strange desire for you to just...get mad and go home. I actually found myself wishing that you wouldn't come by to yell at me. I didn't want Craig to hurt you too." The blonde's voice got quieter now, and she trained her gaze on her pale and slender palms.

"And then just when I'd all but abandoned hope you did show up. I knew it, even if I couldn't see you that well. I knew it was you...and I watched him beat you up and gag you like that. And then you watched..." She began to sniffle and Kyle immediately frowned and reached for her hand. Katie looked up, surprised, but then suddenly, that same serene look washed over her features.

"In that room, I realized that we are all so hopeful and yet so hopeless. So powerless. I felt the anguish I saw in your eyes. And I could do nothing to help you. Or myself. In that room...I gave up hope. And I wished I would close my eyes and never wake up." Katie knew the tears were running down her face, but she couldn't help but smile. "But I did wake up, Kyle. I woke up! And that horrid boy was gone and you were here. And I was safe, and suddenly my life wasn't in danger anymore. That's why I am serene. Because life is precious and I was given another chance to see that."

She hoped that he wouldn't find her strange for saying it that way. In fact, she found herself concerned about Kyle's reactions to everything she said or did ever since she woke up. Two weeks in the hospital, visited only by close family members and Kyle. But not her best friend. There was a split second when Katie felt rage when Kyle said he hadn't seen or heard from Amber since she passed out the day and Andrew brought her home. But not towards Amber. She thought Andrew must have hurt her. Eventually, she realized that Amber was probably just hiding away in her McMansion, just like she always did when she couldn't face the world. It hurt. Crazy enough, she'd almost wished it was the former.

"What are you thinking about?" Kyle's voice broke into Katie's thoughts and she found herself warmed by his endearing half-smile. Kyle really was a baby face - his long eyelashes and soft demeanor made him seem so...well, cuddly. Wait - did she just call Kyle cuddly?

"Katie...? You okay?" Kyle inquired, sounding perturbed and concerned at once.

"Yeah. Yeah...sorry. I was just thinking about...about Amber. Still no word?" Kyle shook is head and Katie exhaled loudly - partly because she anticipated that answer and partly because she was glad to have changed the subject.

"I think I'm going to have to go to The Projects and talk to loverboy - "

"Ms. Brown? You have another visitor." The nurse poked her head in and out quick as lightening, only to be replaced by Andrew himself.

"Well. Speak of the devil." Kyle stood up slowly, shocked to see the tall blonde boy standing in the doorway, looking pretty beat up.

"You look worse than usual. What are you doing here?" Kyle remarked and felt Katie tug admonishingly on the edge of his t-shirt.

"Kyle! Don't be rude. Please, Andy, come in." Katie gestured to the empty armchair by the bed and Andy took off his hoodie and folded himself into the chair. He looked skinnier than before, his eyes had deep dark circles beneath them and his lips were chapped. He licked them frequently and raked his fingers across his scalp in way that Kyle could empathize with.

"I can't believe I'm doing this..." He mumbled, then looked up at Katie suddenly. "Are you feeling better?" Kyle was taken aback by the sincerity reflected in his deep blue eyes.

"Much. There was some internal bleeding and a hairline fracture in my skull where I hit it when I first fainted but the doctor says I should be out and back to school by next week." Katie spoke cheerfully and Andy nodded, swallowing hard. "You don't look too good. What's...the matter?" She carefully ventured. Andy looked up again, as if she'd accused him of murder.

"I was, uh, I was wondering if you guys had heard from...from, um..."

"Amber? No. No one has seen or heard from her in two weeks." Kyle replied shortly, his voice clipped and firm.

"What? Are you kidding?" Andy asked incredulously and Kyle shook his head. "I wish I was," he said "but it isn't the first time she's done something like that."

Andy gave Kyle an odd look and asked, "What do you mean by this isn't the first time?"

Kyle and Katie traded glances and Katie pursed her lips, before speaking, "You never heard it from me. None of us talk about this anymore. Ever. But in ninth to tenth grade, Amber used to have an eating disorder."

Andy's eyebrows immediately knitted together and Kyle looked away, as if just the memory of those days disgusted him.

"She was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and her parents withdrew her from school for two months, keeping her locked up in her mansion while they got her professional help." Katie continued.

"The Carmichaels are extremely rich," Kyle interjected, "so Amber's therapist came to visit her every day for an hour and she even had a personal psychiatrist come to the house and prescribe her meds."

"How do you guys know all this?" Andy inquired, to which Katie smiled ever so wistfully.

"We were the only ones allowed to visit her."

Katie looked up into Andy's eyes, and transmitted through them, he could see just what a harrowing experience watching the teenybopper waste away into nothing but skin and bone must have been for them. He gritted his teeth just thinking about how painful it must have been for her.

"So why haven't you visited her this time?" Andy asked after he'd composed himself enough and Kyle shook his head. "She won't pick up. Every time I call her, it rings out and goes to voicemail. Her parents don't dislike us, but the only reason we're allowed to step foot in the Emerald City is because we're Amber's guests. If she won't have us, then how are we supposed to see her?"

"Uhm, just. go. in?" Andy enunciated like he was sitting in a room with a bunch of morons. It sure felt that way. Kyle rolled his eyes and Katie giggled a little.

"Man, you're so cool, are you for real? You should be in a movie; you're so fearless." Katie gushed and it was Kyle's turn to nudge her in hopes of pointing out her impoliteness. "There is no way that you would be able to just walk into the Carmichael mansion. We're just gonna have to wait until Amber decides she wants to see us again." Kyle flexed his arms and put them behind his head - until he realized both Katie and Andy were looking at him like he was stupid.

"What?" Kyle asked innocently, dropping his arms to his side.

"Have you no sentiment? He misses her. And he wants to see her." Katie growled at Kyle who flinched a little.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't say all of that - " Andy spoke, leaning forward.

"You didn't have to." Katie quit glaring at Kyle to give Andy a blank look. "I can see it in the way your hair is more limp and greasy than the last time we saw you. Your eyes are gaunt, your cheeks hollow." She got up off the bed and took a step closer to Andy to examine him better, giving Kyle a few of her backside and underwear during the process. "In fact, I'd say you haven't slept a full five hours in the past two days." Katie whispered the phrase close to Andy's proximity, and Andy looked away as if he'd been physically struck by her words.

"Just... let me know if she calls back, okay?" His voice was hoarse and defeated. Katie leaned back and gave him some space, dissatisfied with his cowardice. The two suited each other, but their in common qualities would probably drive them apart before they could ever find out. Andy got up, flipped his hoodie back over his head and walked out the door, his old beat-up converse slapping across the floor on the way out. As soon as he was gone, Katie collapsed into the very same chair he'd been in, exhausted. Startled, Kyle jumped up.

"Katie? Katie, what's wrong?!" Worry etched across Kyle's face as he kneeled by a fatigued Katie. Katie managed to smile anyway " Nothing. Just...all that talking got me tired."

"Mm. Do you want me to head out now?" He gestured towards the door but Katie shook her head.

"No. I think I'd like it if you stayed and talked to me some more." Katie spoke slowly and sweetly and Kyle cracked a grin.

"I think I can manage that."

"Come and get your love! Come and get your looooove!" Rick shouted along with the Native American Redbones as he danced around the kitchen with a broom. Rick believed that the lesser things in life, like cleaning and filing taxes, were only to be done if it could somehow be arranged to have at least a modicum of fun whilst doing them.

"Hey! Hey! Nothin's the matter witchya head, baby, find on and find it!" With a concentrated shove he whisked giant dust bunnies out from under the loveseat in his living room, just in time to mime that funky little guitar riff after the chorus. "Hell with it, baby, 'cuz your fine, and your mine, and you look so divine."

Rick scooped up the debris filled dustpan, moonwalked all the way out of the living room, past the Jessica Alba poster that he regularly jerked off to, and into the kitchen where he flipped open the garbage lid and tossed away the fruits of his labor. Just in time for the song to end.

He heaved a sigh and pulled open the fridge, about to grab a beer, when the faint sound of his doorbell reached his ears.

"This better be my pizza." He grumbled and yanked open the wooden door only to reveal none other than the Russo himself.

"Andy! Ole buddy! Ole pal!" Rick threw his arms out wide expectantly, but Andrew didn't even make eye contact, merely slipping past him and stomping into the living room where he proceeded to plop down like he owned the place.

"Ack. No love for a brotha." Rick gripped his chest like he'd been shot. "That's cool, that's cool. Rick never forgets." He hissed over into the living room before going back into the kitchen to grab not one, but two coronas.

"Eyyo, heads up." Rick tossed the bottle at Andrew, who barely caught it in time to stop it from smacking him straight on the forehead and possibly injuring him greatly. Immediately he threw Rick a "what the fuck" look, which of course made Rick smirk even wider.

Plopping down in his favorite armchair and popping the bottlecap, Rick took a second to appreciate the smoke that drifted out of the bottle before taking a hearty swig. "So. What's the dealio? Still down in the dumps over Lolita?"

"Man, fuck you. How many times do I have to tell you: she is seventeen. She's practically legal." Andy grunted defensively, sipping his corona with barely half a heart.

"Ah, yes, that's what makes it so sweet!" Rick said dreamily. "Cheers! To jailbait!" He raised his bottle but Andrew merely looked at him like he was stupid. Rick shrugged and went back to his drink.

"Did Melanie..."

"Leave forty-two voicemails on my damn cellphone telling me about what an asshole you are, how you showed up and kissed her then said goodbye forever, and if I see you, I should kick you royally in the nutsack for her AND Brian? Yeah, she did."

Andy blinked a few times at Rick. "Right then..." He murmured and started nursing his bottle really closely. Rick sighed, and swung his legs from over the arm of the chair and onto the floor. He put his bottle on the glass coffee table and suddenly his demeanor seemed a lot less jovial.

"Andrew, I hate to put it to you like this. But you are really in the shit. At this rate, you're gonna die alone with no one but your right hand to see you go." Andy narrowed his eyes sharply at Rick. "Oh my bad. Forgot you were a lefty. Regardless-you need to figure out just what it is you're gonna do about this whole Amber-Melanie clusterfuck. It is really starting to cut into our bonding time as bros."

Rick leveled his gaze with Andy, his icy blue eyes showing just the tiniest hint of genuine concern. Andy sighed and put his bottle on the floor next to him. He folded his arms across his gut and looked up at the ceiling. Slowly he let his eyes close. The image that came to his vision was not what he expected. He saw himself the night that Amber's limousine crashed into him, knocking him unconscious. It wasn't the memory that disturbed him - he had thought of that night many times before. But it was the way he was seeing it. It was as if he were in Amber's mind - or something else that allowed him to see his body on the ground, bathed in the bright yellow headlights, battered and bruised. Andy felt himself, on the body he was in, crouch down by his own body and gently reach out. Suddenly, the hand froze in mid-air and Andy felt an immense sadness wash over his entire being. He wasn't sure why but he knew that whoever it was that he was hosting had just thought of something very depressing, and he was feeling it. The hand continued it's journey anyhow and brushed Andy's blonde hair out of his face. Andy felt extremely odd - he was watching himself touch was entirely disconcerting and he wanted it to be over but he couldn't even remember what he'd been doing before this all started...or where he was...another hand entered his vision and this time it was darker. It held up Andy's palms, bloody and covered in gravel, and showed them to Andy. Again Andy felt that same sadness. His hand reached out and gently coasted against his cheek and down his neck, searching, searching...for what? And then he felt it like lightening through his veins.

One, strong pulse against his two fingers.

Andy jerked forward in the sofa, covered in cold sweat. Rick stared at him, wide-eyed, no longer in the armchair but on his knees by Andy's side. "Yo man, you just passed out. I've been trying to wake you for like five minutes. What the fuck is going on? Have you been...y'know...taking your meds?"

Andy could see the discomfort in Rick's face, how it put him ill at-ease to bring up Andy's condition. But he couldn't deal with Rick's squeamishness and emotional retardation right now.

"I need to go see Amber." He spoke, his voice scratchy in the bowels of his throat.

"Now that's the spirit. Get that nookie." Rick said, still slightly out of breath but his face more relaxed.

"No, Rick. I am not going to have sex with her." Andy looked at his phone, pensively, the time read 8:30 pm. "I think she's in danger."

I had never seen blood so thick and so dark. The red lines that trickled down the back of my leg and to my feet seemed a deep, dark color, so dark, I wondered if a person could have blood that was black. The pain I felt wasn't so bad and I knew that nicking the back of my knee with a boxcutter wouldn't do the trick, but I had never self-harmed before, not pro-actively anyway, and I wanted to see how it felt to make sure I could go all the way. It was imperative that I get it right on the first time, because the moment the rents found out I'd tried this and failed, they'd ship me off to some sanatorium where'd I'd likely meet Craig and who knows what would happen there. Maybe something I deserved.

I knew that even this was giving myself the easy way out - taking my life meant I wouldn't have to live with the guilt anymore of what I did to Katie - but Judas Priest if I hadn't suffered enough in this godforsaken room for twelve lifetimes. I lifted the boxcutter, now stained a brownish red and brought it to my wrist. I allowed my eyes to slip close, took a deep breath, and swiftly ran it across the vein. At first, I didn't feel anything. I peeked on eye open, and saw just a tiny trickle of blood...and immediately began to fear that I hadn't done it deep enough. That thought was quickly washed away however when the blood started to flow a little quicker and before I knew it my palm was covered in tiny little red rivers and I could feel the panic rising. I had to do it my other hand before I lost too much blood and passed out.

I sucked in another deep breath and brought the boxcutter to my right wrist but this time my hand was shaking. Why couldn't I calm down and just do it? I gritted my teeth and tightened my grip, pressing the keen edge of the blade down into my wrist, but still not breaking skin. I began to let my eyes slide closed again when I heard a tiny noise against my window, like the sound of glass chipping. I must have leaped five feet into the air at the sound and ended up tossing the boxcutter across the room.

"Okay, okay, grab the sweater just like we planned and see what it is." My mind murmured soothingly to my heart as I began to scramble around for the dark cashmere sweater I'd decided to use in the event of being interrupted. I slipped into it and gripped the edge of the sleeves so they covered the open wound on my left wrist, then slowly crept over to see what could have possibly made the noise. What I saw nearly made me pass out.

At the bottom of my two story bedroom, I could see Andrew standing, in a hoodie and ripped up jeans, as per his usual garb. He didn't look up at me for long because he was trying to keep his face hidden, but I knew what he wanted. My only question was how on EARTH did he get past the guards? He waved again and I felt my throat tighten - now was not the time to question. If I didn't help him out, he was going to get caught by the guards, and it would be far worse than if they'd just stopped him from trespassing. I looked around my room, desperate for something, anything that could help the blonde angel up into my room, and stat. My eyes landed on my open closet door, where the linen lay neat and tidy.

"Deus, I hope this stuff works like it does in the movies." I grabbed the sheet, then dropped it but the damage had already been done. I'd forgotten to wipe my bloody hand and know there was a stain in the shape of fingers on the white sheet. "Fuck!" I found myself cursing, and I didn't even care that I did it either. "Now what?" I crumpled up the sheet and threw it under my bed. Then noticed the sheets on my bed.

Racing into the attached bathroom, I washed my bloody hand and wrapped some tissue paper around the slit I'd made on my wrist, to stop the blood from leaking all the way down, at least for now. I turned around to go back into my my room and felt the room spin. Shit. I was running out of time and running low on blood. But I had to get Andy up here... I grabbed the doorframe of the bathroom to regain my bearings, before carefully walking over to my bed and stripping the sheets. It took me a couple minutes to double knot them together and make a sheet rope. I wasn't confident in it, but it was all I had. Creeping back to the window, I peered over and heaved a sigh of relief to see Andy still there. He was shifting uncomfortably and I knew I didn't have much longer before he took off.

"Here goes nothing." I whispered, pushing open the window with my good hand and tossing the sheet rope down the wall. I could have sworn I heard Andrew chuckle but decided to ignore it. I signaled to him to give me a second, and I tied the other end of the sheet to one of the posters on my four-poster bed. Now I wouldn't have to pull him up myself. I gave him a thumbs up once it was secure and crossed my fingers. I couldn't bear to watch him attempt to climb up the two story distance, so I sunk to my knees right next to the window and leaned my back against the wall, applying pressure to my still-bleeding wrist. It wasn't long before I heard Andrew scuffling to get his body over the window and into my room.

"Gimme a hand, huh?" He grunted and I sprung to my feet.

"Oh gosh, yeah, I'm sorry." I tucked my left hand behind my back and grabbed his arm with my right. I was weaker than usual but somehow I helped him into the room and he fell into his behind, out of breath. I looked down at the beautiful boy in disbelief. Had I really just done that? There was no way this was happening.

"I promised Esteban I wouldn't do this again." was all I could mumble, slowly sinking back down to my knees, as if in trance. I stared past Andy, barely noticing him getting off his butt and crouching on one foot.

"Do what?" He asked quietly, bringing back some of his long hair with his fingers so he could, presumably, see me better.

"I promised him. But look at me." I merely repeated, and I felt the lump in my throat rise and harden. Soon the tears were rolling and before I could protest, Andy closed the distance between us and wrapped me up in both his arms, pulling me close to his chest and causing me to cry even harder.

"He's going to be so disappointed in me!" I half-cried, half-choked out, snot and saline all blending into one and dripping onto the back of Andrew's hoodie.

"There, now..." He hushed me, his lips against the hair that covered my right ear, and somewhere inside, I became self-conscious and pushed him away. I hadn't showered for days.

"Amber?" He asked, his face the epitome of confused and cautious and it took everything I had inside of me to not burst into tears again when I looked into his cerulean blue eyes. Those were the only eyes I ever wanted to look into. If I bled to death before the night was through, I would be glad to have those eyes be the last I ever saw.

"Amber..." Andy began again, but I seemed to regain my bearings.

"What are you doing here, Andy? Are you crazy?" I snapped and then remembering to keep my voice low, continued, "I thought you said you never wanted to see me again."

"No one's seen you for weeks! Ever since what that little rat bastard did to Katie, we've all be in pieces. I..." He hesitated, and I could see the doubt and vulnerability flicker behind his iris. "I haven't slept well since I brought you here and your butler took you from me. I..." He seemed to be trying his hardest to fight some kind of inner blockage that was intent on stopping the words from coming out. It pained me to watch him struggle, so I looked away. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the spot where I'd been leaning my right hand on the rug was bloody, and I quickly scooted over to sit on it.

"So that's why you came? You're sleep deprived? Don't tell me you're here for some NyQuil?" I prodded, doing my best to seem haughty and cavalier. The sooner I got to the point with him, the sooner he'd be gone and the closer I'd be to getting back to business. But Andrew had different plans. He slowly inched towards me, and reached out, his long slender fingers tucking some of my silky dark hair behind my ear. His jaw was clenched as he calculatedly let his knuckles graze my cheek, and I couldn't stop my eyes from fluttering closed.

"Amber." Andy's voice came out guttural and hoarse, like touching me was causing him pain. I didn't know what to say in response so I kept my eyes closed and prayed he wouldn't stop. But he did, and immediately I felt the coldness where his fingers used to be, my core still ablaze from contact.

"You kept me awake. Even before all this, you've kept me awake. All I could think of was how you said it was your fault. Then when I went to visit Katie and Kyle in the hospital- "

"You did?! How are they?" I blurted out before I even knew I was saying it. Andy looked startled, but then his features softened as he looked carefully at me, choosing his words delicately.

"Katie seemed much healthier. She and Kyle were comfortable. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure there was some UST there that I'd walked in on." At this, I snickered and shook my head. But I was glad to hear that she wasn't still out cold. "They miss you, you know."

I looked up suddenly, struck by Andy's words. "I don't know what you're talking about." I went to get up, but Andy grabbed my right wrist to hold me in place and my whole body tensed up, my heart throbbing violently in my too small ribcage.

"Kyle says you're not answering his calls. How long are you going to hole up in here and blame yourself for something you had nothing to do with?" Andy asked.

"But it was my fault!" I exploded, yanking my hand from Andrew's grip and scooting away from him, but not too far as to reveal the blood stain on the carpet. I felt tears being to roll again and heaved a shuddering sob that wracked my whole body as I searched for the words to get this boy out of my room and out of my life.

"I have always been nothing but drama to those who love me. I am selfish. If I had just done what my father wanted months ago, Craig wouldn't even know Katie and Kyle existed. There's no way this would have happened, and Katie's life wouldn't be ruined." I broke down towards the end, the sobs coming out like shallow coughs as I struggled to breathe between the tears.

"Amber Carmichael, look at me this instant." Andrew spoke firmly and I could feel his gaze boring into the top of my head, as I cried into my knees, my head and heart pounding all at once.

"I said," and he reached out and grabbed my chin somewhat roughly, "look. at. me."

My hazel hues were forced to make contact with his bottomless cerulean ones and I didn't dare avert my gaze. I couldn't, his thumb and forefinger held my chin so firmly in place. "You did not make Craig rape Katie. Got it?" He spoke through gritted teeth but all I could do was blubber and cry. This clearly wasn't enough for him because he practically growled a sigh and gripped my chin even tighter.

"You did not make Craig rape your best friend. Say it."

I cried even louder.

"Say it!" He demanded.

"I can't! Okay? I can't..." My voice cracked at around the same time my sanity did. "He took something from her that can never be given back... how am I supposed to fix that? Tell me Andrew. How do I fix it? I want so badly to fix it, and if I can't do that, then..."

"Then?" Andy asked, somewhat challenging. There was a smoky look in his eyes, that I couldn't interpret.

"Then I'll just die." I finally spoke, without breaking eye contact with him. He looked at me, not a muscle moving in his entire face, not even once. For a minute, I couldn't tell what on earth he was thinking.

And then, suddenly, something amazing happened. Andy started to laugh and cry, all at once. He dropped his hand and rocked back onto his heel.

"Well, if you do that, then I guess I'll just die." He spoke between laughter and I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Why on earth would you do that? You don't even like me. You barely even know me." I spoke, incredulity building in my voice.

"Well it's my fault you saw what you did, isn't it? If I'd just called the cops the night Craig tried to hurt you, instead of trying to play hero like an asshat, he wouldn't have hurt your friend. So it's all my fault, and if you get to kill yourself over being minutely involved, then I definitely get to as well for my part." He spoke so matter-of-factly, and for a moment I wondered if that's what I sounded like to him.

"You know you're fucking crazy, right?" I said after a moment and he flashed me a bright grin.

"About time you took notice." He said and I found myself, for the first time, laughing. Like actually. Andy must have seen something break in my eyes, because he joined in too and we sat there laughing for all of one minute, before Andy's laughter suddenly stopped.

"What...what is it?" I asked, the laughter just barely draining out of my voice. But he wasn't even looking at me anymore. And then I realized where he was looking. At my sleeve. Covered in blood. From my wounded hand. Which I'd used to brush back my bangs. Shit.

"Please...tell me you haven't been bleeding this entire time." His voice was just bordering furious and terrified and I scrambled for words that would bring us back to the place we'd been in just a few seconds ago.

"I didn't - I mean, I was but, I didn't think you'd show up like you did and - "

"Fuck, Amber! How long have you been doing this?" He practically shouted, and I reached over to cover his mouth and shush him, but it was with the bloody hand and just pressing down on his lips made me wince with pain.

"That's it." He snapped, and scooped me up with both his hands. I squealed as he shouldered my bathroom door open and plopped me down on the toilet seat, then yanked open my medicine cabinet. His expression was nothing short of serious, and before I could protest, he was down on one knee, yanking the bloody tissue paper off my wrist and rolling up my sleeve.

"Andrew..." I began but he silenced me with one look. I took a deep breath as he prepared to rub it with antiseptic and sure enough, it burned like all get out. I squeezed my eyes shut so I didn't even realize Andrew was gently rubbing circle in my other hand with his thumb until after the pain had subsided just a little. When I opened my eyes again, Andy had already let go and was squeeze some antibiotic ointment over the wound and ripping open a giant plaster.

"Will know...?" I looked at him, pleadingly, and he pursed his lips.

"Lucky for you, you don't know what the fuck you're doing. You barely hit a vein. Had you, there's no way we'd be having this conversation right now." Andy spoke, while he wrapped white linen bandage over the wound.

"I'd be in the hospital?" I asked.

"You'd be dead." Andy replied somberly, slapping his hands on his knees indicating he was done with me. I looked up at him and it crossed my mind that, at this moment, he and I were alone. I could do anything I wanted with him. That is, anything he'd let me.

"Can I ask you a Question?" He spoke suddenly, catching me off-guard.

"Uhm...yeah..." I mumbled, nervous about what he had planned.

"Why did you even let me up here if this is what you were doing?"

I swallowed harshly. I'd been asking myself the same thing, to be honest.

"Well...I couldn't just let you stay down there and get caught by the security, could I?" I replied after a moment passed. Andy gave me a perplexed look, and I began to feel nervous. But it occurred to me that there was a chance to get an answer to a question of my own I'd been wondering about ever since that awful night Katie got hurt.

"Can I ask you a Question?" I countered, and Andy shrugged. He exited the bathroom and I followed him. He sat down on the floor at the foot of my bed and I sat down next to him at the edge. I swung my feet a little, training my gaze on the ground, summoning the courage to ask the question I wasn't sure I wanted answered.

"Does the fact that you think you'll never love again have something to do with your..." I couldn't bring myself to finish it. I really didn't even believe what he'd said that afternoon was true. Then why was I asking him?

"My dead girlfriend?" Andy finished and I looked up at him anxiously. But his face was calm and sober. For the first time, he looked older than me. Much, much older.

"Yeah." I said, the word barely making it past the huge lump in my throat. "Did you really kill her?"

Silenced reigned for much longer than I would have liked but I didn't dare break it for fear of scaring him into snapping or running away. I held my breath until he finally spoke again.

"That's two questions. You said you wanted to ask me a question."

"Oh fine." I sighed. "Just answer the first one." Andy smiled ever so slightly, but it was gone within moments and I could feel the heaviness in the air and on his chest.

"If I had to think about it, then the answer would obviously be yes. It doesn't feel like it on a regular basis, not anymore at least. But ever since Cora died, I've never loved another woman. Don't get me wrong," and he looked at me somewhat skeptically here, "I've loved other women. I just never loved them. Whether Cora is the reason, or something else well...I can't say for sure. But no one's ever made me feel the way she did." He finished and looked at me, as if he had something else to say. When he didn't, I found myself wanting to ask him more questions. How did they meet? How did she die? Why was it his fault? Was she pretty? Chances were she was prettier than me and I was okay with that. But I still wondered.

"Is that all?" He asked, and I thought about asking him another Question. But I could see the tiredness in his eyes and the slump of his spine and I didn't have the heart.

"I better call Katie and Kyle, huh?" I spoke and Andy nodded. I blew air out through my teeth which made a whistling noise and in turn made Andy snort out a laugh. Rolling my eyes, I leaned back and reached for my phone which was on my nightstand, accidentally raising my shirt a little. Self-conscious, I straightened up and tugged my shirt down but if Andy had noticed, he didn't make it obvious and instead looked all around my room.

It took me three calls and hang ups before Andy lost it and took the phone from me. "Give me that." He snapped, and pressed the green button, then speaker. The phone rang, and rang until finally Kyle's sleepy voice came out of the receiver. "Hullo?"

"Kyle?" I peeped, and when he didn't respond immediately, I felt my chest tighten.

"...Amber?" Kyle groaned and I could hear him shifting in bed. It was just shy of midnight now and it made sense he'd be asleep. "What's going on? How come you've been icing us?"

"I know...I'm sorry...I, uh..." I glanced at Andy for the answers but his blank expression provided nothing. "I can't really say why. I guess I didn't have a reason. I was just being selfish."

Truer words had never been spoken and I immediately felt better after they came off my chest. Andy must have seen the relief wash over me, because he gave me a genuine half-smile that melted my heart just a little bit.

"Well, as long as you're ready to be back." Kyle said, and I was thankful that he didn't push it. "Can I go to bed now? I'll tell Katie you called. In fact, why don't you come visit her tomorrow? She gets to go home around noon."

"Really?" I asked and I couldn't keep the elatedness out of my voice. "Yeah, really." Kyle chuckled and I felt a wide grin break across my face. "I would love to. I'll be there at 11:30."

Kyle and I spoke for a little bit longer before he practically started snoring and I let him go. During that time, Andy had decided to amuse himself by pacing around my room and peering at every little knick and knack he could find. It didn't occur to me to be conscious of what he was doing until he approached me with a sheepish smile on his face and my art notebook in his hands.

"What's this...?" He opined, and I dashed forward to grab it, but he was swift and dodged me, the book behind his back. He spun around and started flipping through the pages. "These sure are a lot of portraits. How come I only see me?" He whistled and I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks.

"Put my book down." I growled and tackled him onto the bed. I must have taken Andy totally by surprise, because he dropped the book and his mouth dropped when he finally landed and realized the compromising position we were in. He raised his eyebrows and his agape mouth turned into a sly half-grin.

"Well if you wanted me in bed, all you had to do was..."

"Oh shut-up." I rolled off him and made to stand up but he grabbed me by the good hand and yanked me back down onto the bed. Oh no. This was just like in my k-dramas. I'd done it. It was over. I was going to lose my virginity to a crazy dude who was six years older than me!

"Uhm. What are you doing." I asked.

"Just lie still." He spoke after a long pause. I really didn't know how to respond to that. My brain seemed to be showing static on all stations and I couldn't fix the antenna. I turned to look at the boy - man - next to me and saw that lost, vulnerable look in his eyes again. More importantly, he looked like he hadn't been held in weeks.

Brian and Rick's words came back to me and I found myself curling into his chest, his long arm around my back, locked onto my wrist and securing me in the crook of his arm. I could feel the muscles on his arm and chest ripple. He was lean and not the softest pillow I'd rested on, but I wasn't thinking about that. I was more concerned with the fact that this was the closest I'd been to those deep ocean blue eyes since...well, ever. I could see flecks of grey in them. I could see myself.

"I can't do this for long." He spoke slowly, but his eyes were wandering my face, like they were trying to memorize my features.

"What are you talking about?" I breathed, trying not to be distracted by just how cherry red his lips were. He sighed, but not a deep sad, sigh. More like a sigh of relief.

"You have no idea how many times I imagined this." He murmured and I felt my heart clench. He imagined us... laying together?

"But... you said..."

"I know what I said."

" made it seem like you hated me."

"I did. Or, I hated the way I felt about you. I felt towards you. I had to find a way to stop that. For your sake, and for mine...," His words seemed to hit me like boulders, shattering my reality. I couldn't move out of his grip if I wanted to.

"I cried... so many nights because of you...," I found the words escaping my lips and immediately Andy let go of my wrist and snaked his arm up the back of my neck, his fingers threaded through the back of my hair, pulling my head in close, resting his head on top of my cheek.

"I want you to listen to me and listen closely...," He barely murmured into my ear. "I don't ever want to make you cry, if I can help it. I am so sorry that I did. I hate it when I make people cry. Especially people I care about."

He leaned back so he could look at me, and there it was again. That loving look, that caring look. How could he feel so deeply for me when I barely liked myself?

"If I am ever hurting you, can you promise me that you will tell me?" He asked, and I found myself nodding, but just barely.

"Where is this coming from?" I sniffled, after I'd manage to regain my bearings and Andy smiled, although it seemed a little sad.

"I just remembered that when I was most vulnerable, someone was unconditionally kind to me even though I was a stranger to them. I wanted to return their kindness." He said, and gave me a knowing smile. "Now, hush. It's late. You should sleep."

I don't know how long he stayed after I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I was tucked in, and my bandage had been newly redressed, so it made me think he stayed all night. A part of me wished I hadn't fallen asleep but another part of me was happy that I got a chance to sleep in the arms of the only boy I've ever loved.

A/N: The feels! Okey-dokey, new updates every week from here on out. Just so you know we're about two-fifths done with the story~ Once we wrap up the Craig plot, we'll be delving more into A&A's past while they try and understand what this weird relationship is between them. And don't worry - Kyle and Katie will continue to get ample chapter time, teehee. READ AND REVIEW MY PRETTIES. READ AND REVIEW.