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Tales of the Underground: Crestfallen - 29. The Eyes of the Innocent

.: Jayden's Chapter :.

The way Aidan talked about fighting was so intense…so passionate. I could see the fire in his eyes as he broke down every movement and strike. I couldn’t help but laugh as he let his body do most of the talking, every knockout was met with him jumping out of his seat, and every big hit had him waving around his arms. The pride beamed out of him just like it always did. It’s funny Aidan is always so proud, but rarely ever cocky. I guess he just knows where the line is and walks it with ease.

He looked over at me with his piercing blue eyes and smiled. His face was decorated with scars which told you everything you ever really needed to know about him, and yet none of them took away from how good looking and clean cut he was, the only real damage to his face was above his left eye. A thick scar cut into his eyebrow, taking a chunk with it. There are times that I can’t help but worry about the damage a scar like can hide. “Are you positive you’re okay with going through with all of this?” He asked, snapping me out of my trance.

I slightly nodded my head “No, I’ve been cuddling with you since last night, with no desire to go through with any of it.” It was fun to poke his buttons; he never really seemed to expect it.

“Okay, but once we tell Ivy and Henry there’s no going back.” I could tell by the tone of his voice he was doing this more for me than for him. I think if he had it his way he would broadcast it through all the streets and cities in America.

“I know” I quietly replied “We just have to tell them to keep it more on the quiet side for now. I just want to be the one to tell me parents.”

“I get that” he nodded. I couldn’t help but return the smile that was on his face.

“I was thinking that maybe Tuesday you could come over for dinner…I mean I have to ask my parents first, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem with it.” I offered beginning to feel my nerves start up.

I saw him slowly work it out in his mind “What time do you guys eat dinner?” “Usually like 6:30.” I answered, trying to remember my daily routine

“I think that’s a wrestling day, so that should be fine.” I could tell he was still trying to plan it out in his head.

“It’s okay if you can’t” I comforted, trying not to come off needy.

“No, I’ll be there.” He snapped out of his daze, and the high energy guy I’ve been quickly falling for was back.

“Speaking of my parents.” I sighed “I better text my mom to come get me.”

“Noooo” Aidan whined as I took oh my phone “My parents aren’t gonna be back until late, you can just hang out here for a while and I’ll have Perry take you back.”

“I’ve already been pushing the line as it is.” I laughed finally sending the text “My mom wasn’t thrilled that I missed Sabbath yesterday, and she has this new tradition of getting the family together on Sunday evenings, it’s like our opportunity to talk about how our week went.”

“Sabbath?” he repeated with a confused look on his face.

“Yeah Sabbath, like the holy day.” I giggled, while he struggled to connect the dots “I’m Jewish.”

“You don’t look Jewish” he mumbled finally putting 2 and 2 together. I raised an eyebrow and his face turned red “No I didn’t mean that in like a bad way, Jewish people look fine it’s just that you don’t look Jewish.” He stuttered uncomfortably trying to save himself “like you don’t wear a yamaka or anything.”

“It’s alright.” I laughed “I get it, you hate Jews.” I reached into my backpack while he stuttered a little bit more and pulled out my Kippah “It’s alright, I’m just teasing you” I giggled “See here it is, but we call it a Kippah not a Yarmulke. My family isn’t really that religious, so I only have to wear it when I pray, go to Synagogue or read from the Torah.”

I could see all the new information was hitting him at once “Wait what’s the different between Yamaka and Kippah?”

“That’s what you took away from that?” I yelped in laughter “And it’s Yarmulke” I corrected adding an accent “but Yarmulke is Yiddish and Kippah is Hebrew. I mean there might be more to it, but that’s all I was taught, and I only speak Hebrew.”

He made another face, and I could see that a million questions were circling in his brain “So is this going to be like an issue when you eventually tell your parents we’re dating?” he quickly squeaked out.

I shifted my mouth from side to side “No, they’re pretty lenient. We don’t really follow old law, we just believe that all love and life should be respected, ya know?”

“Hmm maybe I should be Jewish then.” He joked, finally relaxing.

“It’s not as fun as it sounds.” I laughed, leaning against him “Besides not everyone is as cool as my parents. I’ve met some pretty crabby old people.”

“Old people do suck” he laughed “So teach me something in Hebrew before you have to go.”

“No.” I spit shaking my head. I could feel my face turning red but tried to hide it.

“Why?” he whined once more “I won’t laugh I promise.”

I racked my brain and thought of all the expressions I had heard family members say to one another “Ata kol kakh khashuv li.” I could feel the red on my face turn a shade brighter as I spoke. He did his best to repeat it to me, but stumbled over some of the words. “Close enough” I shrugged.

“Whats it mean?” he asked, sitting up.

“I don’t know” I teased standing up, and slinging my bag over my shoulder “I guess you’ll have to learn Hebrew”. He quickly jumped up as I grew closer to the door.

“You’re so annoying” he laughed, leading me to the front of the house.

“Ata kol kakh khashuv li.” I repeated with more confidence, as he finally opened the front door. I took a step out, and couldn’t help but smile at him “You mean so much to me.”

My words hit him harder than I expected them to, and I saw a huge grin cross his face “You’re full of surprises Jayden Sanders.”

I returned the grin, and discreetly grabbed onto his hand so my mom couldn’t see. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow” he repeated, breaking free. He raised his now free hand and waved politely to my mom. She rolled down the window and waved back.

With every step I took towards my mom’s car I couldn’t help but feel sad. I mean we had just spent the last day together, and yet I can’t help but miss him. He’s just like no one I’ve ever met before.

“Good morning” My mom smiled as I climbed into the passenger’s seat.

“Good morning mom” I returned giving her a kiss on the cheek

“Aidan’s such a sweet boy.” She stated, looking towards the front of the house “and what a beautiful house they have. Do you think he would be interested in your cousin Jenifer?”

“No” I chuckled, I felt a lump grow in my throat “He’s gay mom” I quickly let out. I don’t know why but I suddenly felt my heart begin to race.

She nodded her head “I should’ve known that. Look how he dresses and all”

“Mom!” I yelped “Not all gay people dress nicely.”

“What? Is that offensive” She asked, finally driving off “Gay people are always so cute is all.”

My mom’s ability to always see the positive helped me to relax “So then it’s not a problem?”

“Why would it be?” She reassured “He’s a friendly boy, and it looks like he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

“Then he can come over for dinner on Tuesday?” I nervously asked

“Of course, I’m so glad that you’ve found new friends.” She encouraged “We have an open door policy, they’re always allowed over.”

“Works for me” I giggled laying back.

“Hmmm” she moaned “Someone’s laughing a lot this morning. I take it you had fun?”

“Yeah” I nodded “Thank you for letting my switch schools.”

“Anything for you my little love.” She reached over to tussle my hair, but I stopped her.

As we finally pulled into the driveway, I rushed out, eager to get to my bed. “Don’t forget that we’re spending the evening together!” she called out.

“I know” I yelled back, finally reaching my room.

I threw on one of my vinyls, and pounced onto my bed. I found myself getting lost in the music, just like I always did. To me music is more than sound…it’s a part of life…it’s how I cope with it all. Growing up everyone always told me I was a natural worrier, but things changed last spring… everything changed. The worrying seemed to come on stronger and more often…it stopped being natural and turned into shadow I couldn’t shake. Even with the help of therapy or medicine, there are still times where it roars out from within me, music has become my safe haven from those moments. In a way I suppose its always served as my crutch, one I’m proud to have. At some point I must’ve fell asleep, because I was woken up to my mom lightly shaking me.

“It’s time for dinner, come on your dad just got home.” She gently pushed.

“Okay” I groggily mumbled, slowly getting up. “Hey dad” I greeted, following my mom into the kitchen.

“Hey buddy” he cheerfully let out in spite of his exhaustion “Where you just sleeping?”

“Kind of” I murmured “I’ve just been relaxing all day.”

“You know napping isn’t the best for your depression.” He lectured.

“I know” I shrugged “But I’ve been having a good past few days, I promise.”

“Good” he nodded, leaving the matter alone.

“How was work? I hear the boss mans gone for the weekend.” I playfully teased.

“Mr. Taylors not my direct boss so nothing really changed” he corrected “It was just another typical day. Ya know people can be really stupid…”

“Ah Ah!” My mom interrupted “No talking about work at the dinner table! Jayden why don’t you tell us about your sleepover?”

“It was fun” I shyly shrugged “We just kinda hung out all day.”

“Jayden I’m really glad you’ve made friends but please just be careful.” My dad lectured, my mom tried to discreetly kick him from under the table but missed. “I’m not trying to discourage your friendship with Aidan, but he’s from a powerful family. Just keep your wits about you okay?”

“Don’t worry” I smiled “Aidan’s not like that. He’s really gentle and kind.”

“Even so, don’t forget where you’re from son.” He preached “You’re not a fortunate son. You come from a blue collar household.”

“I know” I reassured “and I’m proud of that.”

“But he also shouldn’t be ashamed of wanting more for himself.” My mother reprimanded, giving my father an evil eye “Don’t be afraid to go after money in your life.”

“Money’s not everything” My dad insisted

“No but it’s still important in life.” My mom fought back.

I couldn’t help but laugh at their small fight. My dad smiled, and turned towards me “Ya know I haven’t heard you laugh this much in a while.”

“I guess I’m just happy lately” I shrugged.

The stress from work on my father’s face seemed to relax a bit “Good, I’m glad to hear that.”

“This would also be a good time to tell you that Aidans coming over for dinner on Tuesday.” I poked, speeding up my words.

“I guess it can’t hurt to get to know him better.” My dad nodded “If he is what you say, then he’s nothing like his father.”

“Believe me he’s not” I uttered “His dad just seems mean and demanding.”

“He’s a proud man.” My dad corrected “Too proud if you ask me, and that…that’s what causes great men to fall.”

“Then you think he’s great?” I asked with wide eyes.

“I think he was great.” My dad sighed “But time and money warp the way men think. Power corrupts you…I’ve worked under him for a long time now…I’ve seen his company rise…and he’s not like he was at the beginning.” My dad thought it over for a few seconds “Yetzer Hara.”

“Yetzer Hara” I nodded understanding what my father meant. It’s hard to explain, but Yetzer Hara is the natural desire towards evil, it’s one of the few Jewish beliefs my family holds onto.

My mom let out a deep exhale, and quickly changed the conversation. The rest of dinner went on a lot more family friendly. I’ll never admit it to them, but these new family dinners my mom has forced us into…I really appreciate them. My family was never really close before…well before what happened with my brother…I guess it was just all a huge wake up call. I went from being able to do whatever I wanted to them checking in on me every few hours. I know I’m torturing myself, but I just can’t help but wonder if he would still be here if this is how we were before….if we we’re there for him more. This thinking kept circling in my head for the rest of the night, but for the first time it didn’t make me feel sad. It just forced me to reflect on everything.

When it was finally time to wake up for school I tiredly pushed through my morning routine, and climbed into my mom’s old minivan. The second my feet hit the pavement I could feel my heart begin to beat faster. I pushed my head down and quickly tried to make my way to my locker without being noticed.

“Hey Sanders, wait up!” I heard a big voice call out. I tried to move faster but felt a force pull on my backpack “What’s the matter ears not working today?” I kept my head down as a hard shove met my back “You know I’m extra hungry today, but I only have 5 bucks for lunch, think you could help me out?”

“No Jordan” I sighed, finally addressing my bully “I don’t have money.”

“Why sure you do!” he shouted, pushing me once more “You’re always so cheap, but I should expect that from a damn Jew.” He fired out, connecting with another shove.

“Cut that crap out!” I heard a familiar voice call out. “Touch him again and I’ll put my foot right up your ass!”

“I’ll catch you later Sanders.” The bully grunted, slamming me one last time.

I kept my head down, and tried to keep moving forward. “Wait up Jayden!” Henry shouted “Come on, you can’t take that crap! What has Aidan been teaching you?” I shook my head but didn’t bother to look up at him “I guess you’ll just have to keep working on it.”

“Can you just…I don’t want…” I tried to force out my words, but they jumbled up in the back of my throat just like they always did when I got nervous around someone I’m not totally comfortable with. “Don’t tell...It’ll just” I let out a frustrated groan as my stutter only got worse “Don’t tell Aidan” I finally managed.

“Alright alright I won’t” he reassured placing his arm around my shoulder “Just chill out.”

“Yeah I’m…ugh…working on it.” I stammered once more.

“Damn getting bullied really rattles you doesn’t it?” I nodded so I didn’t have to speak “Well don’t worry about it, you’ve got friends looking after you now kiddo.”

“Thanks” I let out, starting to relax. “I better get to my…ugh…locker now.” I managed without my voice breaking up too much.

“Go for it.” He warmly smiled “If you need help just come find us.”

I nodded once more, and made it to my locker safely. The first part of the day went on without any more interruptions. Just another normal day in the life I guess. Sit down, take notes, study…the normal routine. Finally the lunch bell rang, and I felt my heart flutter as I realized I would finally get to see Aidan. I quickly rushed down to our normal table, and took my seat. Ivy showed up first, then Henry and finally Aidan.

“Hey you” Aidan greeted bumping me with his shoulder.

“Hey” I nervously smiled back.

“What’s the matter?” he asked with concern growing.

“Nothing just…” I felt hesitation grow in my mind. I want to tell Henry and Ivy we’re dating, but at the same time a voice in my head is pleading my not to. My gaze connected with his confident blue eyes, and the voice seemed to fade away “Just maybe you should tell them the thing.” I sheepishly let out.

“You sure you don’t want to tell them?” Aidan teased, holding onto my hand from under the table.

“No…it’s just better if you do.” I exhaled, keeping my voice in check. For whatever reason, just having Aidan around lately has managed to keep my nerves in order.

Henry made a face and looked at us weirdly, while Ivy raised her eyebrows and laid back “Alright give it to us” she groaned “Tell us what we both already should know by now.”

“Welp me and Jayden.” Aidan began “Well Jayden and I” for the first time I saw Aidan’s will waver “let’s just say…” he droned on.

“We’re dating.” I proudly spit finishing it for him. He looked over at me and gave me an approving smile.

“I should’ve known!” Henry screamed “Oh my god! It was so obvious. How did we not see it Ivy?”

“I saw it” she defended “I’ve noticed Aidan’s crush on him since we first met Jayden. I’m just glad it worked out.”

“Oh bullshit” Henry antagonized “You’re not that smart!”

“What did you just say?” Ivy angrily asked, taking the bait “I’m gonna force that sandwich down your face so fast…”

I looked over to Aidan and our eyes met. We returned smiles to one another, and let the fighting go on as if it was music to our ears. I don’t know when it happened, but I finally have friends…I have a boyfriend…life is looking up.

2016 Ace
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Damn I hate bullies.With Jays growing confidence in his boyfriend and friends, I can see him eventually finding finding the strength to confront his tormentor. That will be a sweet moment. 

Just occurred to me. Imagine Henry and Ivy finally hooking up haha

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