Chapter 19

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trigger warning: panic attacks


Finally feeling the harsh grip on my chest loosen, my breathing stabilised. I start becoming aware of my surroundings as I felt an arm around me tighten, followed by an apology I didn't quite understand but I was too out of it to bring it up.

This wasn't my first time having an attack. I used to get them after the accident but no matter how many times I got them, I'd never be used to the dreadful feeling. 

I lifted my head from Archer's shoulder and pulled away from him. "Red." He looked at me with eyes that brimmed with worry but I couldn't bring myself to meet his gaze.

My eyes remained fixed on the ground. He can't be gone. We never had a chance to catch up. We haven't even had a chance to have our stupid phone call yet. 

Jax must have been confused or delusional or something because I can't take any other alternative. I called them here and now— oh God, I should've never called them. "I need to go." I rasp as I stand but fall right into Archer's arms, legs weak.

"Red, maybe-"

"I need to go back home, Archer!" My voice barely comes out, still breathless. Route 9 was just on the outskirts of my hometown. It'd be a long drive back but I had to go. Now. 

"We'll go. I'll take you." Archer runs his hands up my arms as I try to stop the shivers the wrecked my body. I finally look into Archer's stricken eyes and they're full of emotion. "I'll take you." He repeats in a softer voice, getting me to calm my frantic breathing.

I allow him to pull me to him and then he takes me to his car.

• • •

After a few hours of agonising silence, Archer pulls up in front of the hospital. I throw his door open and rushed through the glass doors. The sharp smell of disinfectant swarms my senses as I round the corridor of the hospital. I reach the counter and it's like they don't even see me. 

"Excuse me," I call out but the nurses are occupied. "Excuse me!" I raise my voice and finally, one pair of eyes snap to mine. "Is there a Riley King or Jackson Vaughn here?" I ask the red headed nurse and she motions for me to wait as she types something into her computer. 

Archer makes his presence known by placing a hand on the small of my back. I loved it when he did that. It made me feel protected and assured and that's exactly what I needed since I was 2 seconds from falling apart. 

"Are you family?" The nurse asks and before I could shake my head, Archer speaks.

"Yes, we're family." And that's when it hit me. We wouldn't be able to see them unless we were family. 

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