9. Bailey

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"Ian, STOP!!" I scream, but I know he doesn't hear me. And I am far more worried about Nick, so I let it go.

I am leaning over his unconscious body. My first instinct when I reached him was to check his pulse and make sure he was still alive. If I hadn't seen the fight for myself, I don't know that I would have even recognized him. His nose is bent in an unnatural angle with more blood coming out of it by the second, there are deep cuts on his left cheek and right eyebrow plus random areas where swelling has already began.

I had followed Ian as he sprinted across the lawn and tackled Nick's evil stepfather. He had been hitting Nick so unrelentingly hard I was worried he was trying to kill him.

And now it was Ian's turn to return the favor.

I turn away from Ian and focus my attention once again on Nick. A woman who I can only assume is his mother kneels next to me and places her hand on my forearm. "Get him out of here," she whispers.

For a moment I think she is talking about Ian—he is currently beating the shit out of her husband—but she's not. She's referring to her son.

"'Out of here'? Do you mean to the hospital?"

She looks down at Nick for I think the first time and says weakly, "Yes. He should go to the hospital this time."

Her tone is monotonous, no emotion behind her words, like she's on autopilot.

I don't respond to her. Instead, I stand up to head towards Ian. She grabs my arm as I begin walking away. "Please don't tell the police," suddenly emotional.

I snatch my arm away from her roughly and run to the other side of the yard. How can she be more worried about this asshole than her own son?

I stand next to Ian on top of whatever-his-name. He's grabbing his shirt to lift him off the ground before slamming him back down. The way he's grabbing him is off, and I wonder if he hurt his hand. That would explain why he's no longer punching. The guy's face is covered in more blood than Nick's, but he's still conscious, begging Ian to stop.

"Ian! Ian!" I yell again. When he doesn't stop, I try another tactic. "Ian, Nick needs to go to the hospital...now!"

Ian's never been in a fight before, but I've never seen him this angry. He doesn't look at me but stops his movements momentarily. He leans down and grabs the asshole's chin tightly. He whips his face around so he's forced to look up at Ian. "You stay the FUCK away from him! Do you understand me?"

The asshole doesn't answer but nods his head slowly.

Ian stands up, and we wordlessly walk to Nick, each draping an arm of his over our shoulders and head to the car. Nick's eyes are opening slightly, and he is able to walk most of the way with our help.

Ian drives to the hospital while I sit in the back with Nick's head in my lap. I try to do an assessment and see how bad his injuries might be, but there is too much blood. He's occasionally moaning in pain but seems to be soothed when I run my fingers through his hair, so I keep doing that.

Once we reach the hospital five minutes later, the front desk takes one look at Nick and rushes us to an exam room immediately. Ian and I are asked to leave while they assess his injuries and clean him up.

I spend the longest hour of my life with Ian in the waiting room. I'm so worried. I may be overthinking it, but I can't help wondering if he could have permanent brain damage from this. He looked so bad.

Ian and I are both still covered in blood. He's covered in the asshole's, and I'm covered in Nick's. My thoughts had been so consumed with the events of the past day that I had completely forgotten about my appearance. It's hard to believe that 24 hours ago, I still thought of Nick as a horrible human being. Do I still think that? I'm guessing the answer is no, but my mind is so scattered that I can't even answer that question with certainty.

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