Chapter 21 - Rooster (Alice In Chains ; 1992)

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Brendon and I stayed at Z's for a little while longer, letting ourselves filter through whatever alcohol was in our systems before heading home. Brendon said he walked downtown to the bar, so the both of us drove back to my house in my mom's car. Once we pulled up into the driveway, I turned off the engine and just stared up at the house for a moment.

Brendon respected my silence and even tried to comfort me by reaching across the console to take my hand in his as we just sat there. After a few moments, he broke the silence by speaking softly. "They told me why you left the way that you did," he said cautiously. "I don't know exactly what I can say to make you feel any better, but just know that I'm not going anywhere, Ry. I'm still here, and I'm not leaving."

I felt myself nod subconsciously as the grip on my hand tightened. "I-I'm scared, Bren," I whispered softly, my voice breaking slightly and tears beginning to gather in my eyes. "T-This is m-my dad. He's n-not supposed to l-leave until I'm o-old."

I turned to look at Brendon who had tears in his eyes as well. After a few more moments of silence and my mind reeling with thoughts of my father, I couldn't hold back anything anymore. I burst into tears, my sobs coming out broken and uncontrolled as I leaned my head forward, resting it against the steering wheel as I let everything out.

I hear Brendon's seat belt click and felt his hands reaching to hold onto either side of my face. I was soon being pulled gently across the console and pressed against his shoulder where I complied to his attempts at reassurance and wrapped my arms around his back and buried my face into his shoulder. This is the second time in three days that Brendon has seen me at my weakest and he's still here. The thought made my chest feel warm and constricted, a feeling of certainty safety that I had never felt before coursing through my veins as he held me in his arms.

"I love you, Ryan," Brendon whispered into my ear brokenly as he ran his hands across my back in a comforting manner. "You're allowed to cry, and you're allowed to be upset as much as you want to be. You're allowed to be angry, and you're allowed to hurt. Whatever you need to do to process and accept this, you do it."

I nodded against his shoulder, my grip on his back tightening as I continued to cry. "I-I love you, t-too, Brendon," was all I could choke out at the moment, which seemed to be good enough for him as he just held me tighter and began stroking my hair gently.

I don't know how much longer we stayed like that, but when my tears has ceased and my breathing had evened itself out again, I straightened myself up and wiped desperately at my face before I turned to Brendon again. "L-Let's go inside," I said softly, earning a soft nod from him. I leaned over and pressed a quick kiss to his lips before the both of us exited the car and walked up to the front door. I let out a slow stream of air before turning the handle and pushing the door open, stepping inside with Brendon following behind.

Before I could even get the door closed, My mother's voice was already being heard from the kitchen. "Ryan," she called loudly, "Brendon, is that you?"

I turned to look at Brendon who just nodded at me and nudged me toward the kitchen softly. The both of us entered the kitchen together to see my mother holding the phone for what seemed like dear life and my father slouched over the island with his head in his hands. As soon as the both noticed us, my dad was the first to leave his seat hurriedly and walk over to me. Before any words could even be said, my arms went around him and I held onto him like my life depended on it.

He hesitated at first but then wrapped his arms back around me just as tightly. I felt the tears coming on again and I couldn't even help myself as we just held each other and just cried into each other's necks. His repeated 'it's going to be okay's and my 'I'm sorry's were all that the two of us needed to hear as we calmed down a bit.

After we both released each other, we looked into each other's eyes and immediately broke into these wild grins before we started laughing at one another. "Y-You look absolutely r-ridiculous," I said to my dad while wiping softly under my eyes.

"You're one to talk," he retaliated, causing the four of us to all begin laughing gently. Before long, the conversation was brushed to the side and we all seated ourselves at the dining table and my mother began serving dinner. We shared some light banter and conversations about things that my parents had heard on the radio today while we were gone before my father caught all of our attention.

"We called the museum that you're travelling to," he said before taking a sip of his wine and setting the glass down. "We spoke to this Mr. Iero personally about buying tickets for the gallery. He politely declined taking any of our money since we're your parents, so, we'll be flying to Chicago a couple days before the gallery so that we can attend."

I beamed softly and nodded as I took a sip from my glass of water. Brendon reached under the table and took my hand in his before bringing it up to his lip and pressing a soft kiss to the back of it. I looked across the table to see a small flicker of apprehension on my mother's face as she kept her gaze on my dad and I didn't even have to ask to know what she was thinking.

It was an unspoken feeling of hesitation to mention that Dad might not make it that far, but there was also an unspoken feeling of hope that he will.

Hope seems to be all we'll have from here on out.

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