Hawk. Hawk Hook. My best friend throughout the majority of my life. My best friend, the guy who’s heart I broke. The guy who must think I killed his mother.
As soon as I realized who he was, I quickly searched around me for somewhere to run. I needed to get away from him before he started yelling at me and accusing me. But I wasn’t fast enough.
“Thorn? Is that really you?”
“Y-yes, I’m so sorry, I’ll lea-” I started to say, but was abruptly cut off.
“I’m so happy, you’re alive! All this time, I thought you were dead. You have no idea how happy I am to see you.” He ranted as he threw himself on me for a bear hug. It felt like he was holding onto me for dear life.
“You’re… happy?” I was confused. I assumed he hated me.
“Of course, Thorn! You’re my best friend.” He smiled at me.
“Really? After all this time?” I smiled, maybe I wasn’t so alone after all. “After everything…” I let my voice trail off. I didn’t want to mention it.
“Absolutely. You mean the world to me, Thorn. I was so worried. I thought you were dead, or hurt somewhere. It killed me that I couldn’t trace you down.” He pulled me into another hug. “I just can’t believe you’re really here.”
“When did you get here?” He asked.
“Not long ago. Like, today.” I chuckled.
“Do you have a place to stay?” He pulled away from the hug sheepishly.
“N-no, but it’s okay. I’ll figure something out.”
“Nonsense. You grab…” He looked over at the baby on the bench.
“His name is Aspen.”
“You grab Aspen and I’ll drive you both back to my place.” He offered.
“No, it’s okay. I can’t put you out like that.” I felt bad, just randomly stumbling into his life. I had so much emotional baggage, and a baby. I didn’t want to burden him with it.
“Nonsense. You’re family. Both of you. C’mon, let’s get you back to my house. You can clean up, and we can catch up.” He glanced briefly at my still bloody hands. It was so gross, but I couldn’t get myself to wash them yet. It was all I had left of Pepper.
“Okay. But I promise I won’t stay long. I don’t want to be a burden.”
“You’re never a burden. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you and your son were out on the streets.” He smiled sadly.
“Okay.” I smiled. It would be nice to be in an actual house, with electricity and working plumbing.
I put Aspen down for a much-needed nap on Hawk’s bed, then came out and sat down on the couch with him. It was slightly awkward, it had been so long since we’d seen each other, and so much had happened. I knew he had questions. I did as well.
“When did you move to Bridgeport?” I asked to break the awkward silence. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“About a year ago. I came here to go to school. And to get a fresh start. I needed one.” He wrung out his hands nervously.
“I’m so sorry.” I hung my head.
“I know it wasn’t your fault. Aloe was a creep. I’m assuming he tried to hurt you, and my mother sacrificed herself to help you. Is that what happened?”
“Yea… Exactly, actually. How did you know that?”
“I know you. I know you wouldn’t shoot my mother. And I know Aloe. He’s definitely capable of something like that. And I knew my mother. She loved you as much as she loved me, she protected you like you were her own son. I knew she would die for you, and that’s exactly what she did. I’m glad she did.”
“You’re glad?” I was slightly taken aback.
“Of course. I’m glad her death was meaningful. And, I’m glad her death wasn’t for nothing.” He placed a hand on my knee. “I’m so glad you’re alright.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m alright.” I laughed, I must’ve sounded like a crazy person to him.
“I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. It must’ve been hell. But, you’re safe now. I’m not gonna let anything bad happen to you here.” He let go of my knee and he smiled at me. “I really missed you, Thorn.”
“I really missed you too.” I felt like I was about to cry, but I stopped myself. I’d had enough of that.
“You don’t have to tell me what happened to you. You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to. But I want you to know I’m here for you. I really care about you.” He averted my eyes and looked down at his hands. It sort of looked like he was blushing.
“Thank you.” I stood up, prompting him to as well. “That means more than you’ll ever know.”
“Of course.” He wrapped his arms around my neck. We stood there for a few moments, just embracing each other. It was such a nice feeling. I missed him so much.
“Are you tired? I bet you’re tired.” He said, with his face still squished into my body.
“I’m exhausted.” I laughed. “It’s taken me days to get here, and I’ve had to watch Aspen the whole time.”
“You can go crash on my bed if you’d like.” He offered kindly.
“Are you sure? I’m pretty disgusting.” I admitted. Suddenly I was very self-conscious about how I smelled. I probably smelled awful. My face burned with embarrassment, I didn’t want to look like such a mess in front of him.
“That’s okay, I’ve slept in that bed smelling much, much worse than you.” He laughed.
“Now, go get some rest.” He pulled away from our hug and smiled at me.
And rest is exactly what I got.
When I woke up, it took me a few moments to get my bearings. I was disoriented, I slept so much I forgot where I was and how I got there. But soon I remembered everything. I remembered that there was supposed to be a baby in the bed next to me, but he wasn’t there.
Panicked, I checked under the bed and around the room. He was nowhere to be found.
“Hawk have you…” I burst out of the bedroom to find Hawk holding Aspen in his arms. Hawk had this wide, dopey smile on his face. It was kind of adorable.
“Hey, sorry to scare you.” He looked up at me. “Aspen was crying, you were in such a deep sleep you didn’t hear him. I hope you don’t mind, I’ve been caring for him today.”
“I don’t mind at all. How long have I been out for?” I smiled and walked towards the couch to sit next to him.
“About twenty-four hours now.” He chuckled.
“Oh wow. Sorry, I don’t mean to just dump him on you.” I sighed.
“Don’t even worry about it. I love babies, and he’s a great baby.”
“Yea. He is.” I smiled sadly at Aspen. I wished that Pepper was here to see how adorable his son was.
“How are you doing? This couldn’t have been easy for you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“Y’know, having a kid. I can’t imagine pregnancy was easy for you.” He told me. I realized that Hawk thought Aspen was my biological son. This was going to be tricky to explain.
“Oh. Um, well. I wasn’t pregnant.” I bit my lip. I was worried what he would think.
“Then who’s baby is this?” He asked me gently, though his eyes looked absolutely terrified.
“Oh.” He responded. It sounded as if he were sad. I couldn’t imagine why. “Where is your boyfriend now?”
“H-he’s dead.” I squeezed my eyes shut to keep myself from crying. “He died in childbirth.”
“I’m so sorry Thorn.” That must’ve been awful.” I gave me a sympathetic pat on the knee.
“Thanks.” I responded awkwardly. I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to that.
“Well he’s still your son. And he’s beautiful.” Hawk smiled at Aspen. “He’s very lucky, he’s got an amazing guy for a dad.” He looked at me.
“I wouldn’t say that, really.”
“I would. You’re a great guy and you’re gonna make an amazing dad.”
“Thank you.” I smiled sheepishly. His comments were making me blush lightly.
“Of course, Thorn. I mean it.”
I really hoped I wouldn’t screw up.