Summary: Fred goes home over Christmas Break, where he has to face his abusive father, betrayed brother and ignorant mother. When he comes back, he is not the same person he was before he left and therefore he doesn’t feel the same about the love he had for his girlfriend.
Rating: R – for language, child abuse and general maltreatment.
Dedication: To Kristine. Thank you for being my inspiration, and for coming up with a great title for the story. And sorry for writing prequels when we’re not done with the main story yet. You know how annoying sidekicks can be... Forgive me? *pouts*
Disclaimer: Fred, Catalina and Fred’s family belong to Cimmy. Lex O’Leary and Jeff Delricci belong to NYgoldfish54. Any other mentioned people belong to Disney.
Chapter 3. Familiar Events
Okay, I’m definitely no role model. I can’t even keep track of my own brother anymore. And least of all of myself. We both came stumbling in late tonight, he was insane and excited, while I was drunk out of my senses.
I’m starting to sober up right now. Of course, it could be because my dad shook some life into me, giving me that ‘I’ll never live to see tomorrow’ beating. His biggest concern was still about the car. I explained that we took a taxi home, but that’s not entirely the truth. I had to call one of my older cousins, to get him to drive us home. Then I paid for his cab fair back. So it was almost the truth.
My father had been up, waiting for us to arrive. He never even asked about what we had been up to. He just blamed me for getting Marcus into trouble. Okay, I take the blame for that. As long as Marcus doesn’t have to deal with my father’s wrath.
After the usual yelling and punching, I decided to go call Catalina again. I didn’t even care enough to use my cell. But she hasn’t answered yet, so that’s what I’m trying to do. Call her.
My voice is shaky, and when I try to talk, it comes out a bit hollow. He really didn’t care much about that important dinner tomorrow. I probably won’t be allowed to be there, the way I might look by this time tomorrow.
The signals go through, so I count to eight before I decide to hang up. At the same time, someone picks up on the other end of the line. “Catalina?” I ask, my throat aching from the effort of processing sound. I’m croaking; I can hear how pathetic I sound.
“Nah, it’s me!”
Connie. Damn, I can’t talk to her. “Uh, is she around?”
“Who is this?” She doesn’t recognize my voice. Maybe that’s a good thing? “Fred? Is that you? Why do you sound so weird?” Well, to hell with it, then.
“No reason, just tired.”
“Alright. Well, she’s not here. She’s down at the mall with Charlie. Guess she forgot her phone. Should I tell her to call you back?”
“Who else is there?” I go on, fighting back my tears. I can’t let her know, I just can’t.
“Guy and Adam. Oh, and Fulton. I guess the others are down at the mall. You want me to get...”
“No, that’s okay. I’ll call tomorrow. Bye, Con.”
“Bye, Fred... Hey, is everything alright? You sound really weird.”
“Just drunk. Gotta go. See ya.”
I hang up before she can respond to my statement. No, I’m not sober at all. I’m still hammered. When I try to walk over to my bed, I fall flat on my stomach. Why is this feeling so familiar?
My head protests when I hear someone knock on my door. “Fredrik?” Oh, fuck, it’s my mom. What could she ever want to talk about?
“Yeah?” I murmur, lifting my head up from the floor. She opens the door and goes over to me. To my surprise, she doesn’t scold. She just puts a cold, wet towel to my forehead.
“I heard about your trip to town. I just managed to get Marcus into bed. He’s out like a light. I figured you wouldn’t be. After all, you’ve survived so many more drunken nights than he has,” she growls, sounding annoyed. “Stay there, I’ll get some antiseptics for that cut.”
Why is she being so nice? Am I dying?
“I’m sorry,” I mumble when she’s hauled me up from the floor. She might be an ungrateful bitch, wishing my life to pieces because I was ever born, but she is still my mother. She doesn’t have to love me, just as long as she knows I’m alive.
“I’m just glad you didn’t throw up on my rug,” she says firmly. Then she smiles a little. “Not counting the bathroom mat your brother just destroyed.”
“You can blame me for that,” I offer. “It was my fault anyway.”
I crouch down, leaning against the wall. My room is spinning. Am I dreaming? I must be. When my mom keeps cleaning the wound right above my eyebrow, I know it’s a dream. She usually has people doing that for her. They must have the day off.
“You can’t stay here,” she enlightens me. I just nod. I know. “I’ll do everything I can so you can stay at your school, but you can’t stay in our home. I can’t stand to see you drag down Marcus into the same mess you got yourself into when you were younger.”
“I’m a bad influence,” I slur.
“Your brothers adore you. But if you stay here, this will continue.” She motions at me face, and I look up. Yes, I can’t see my own face, but I’m drunk, give me a break.
“I never meant to stay anyway,” I mutter. “I don’t want to be here.”
“I’ve realized that,” she says sternly. “But you still have to make an effort, Fredrik. You can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep coming home and cause trouble. I don’t want you here longer than necessary; I want to avoid finding you like this. I can’t take this anymore. You have to stay away until everything has calmed down.”
My eyes wander to a point right above her head. I try to focus on a spot in the ceiling, but everything is spinning. She’s practically telling me that she wants nothing to do with me. That I’m not welcome in my own home. I have nowhere to go.
I guess she assumed that I was feeling sick because of the alcohol, but that’s not why I threw up. I’ve never felt so worthless before. Will the pain ever go away?
This morning, I decide to be the nice sibling. As soon as my legs carry me, I walk up the stairs to Marcus’s room. He’s sprawled right across the bed, his arm and head hovering over the floor. I snort. Yes, he’s becoming me, alright.
I put down a glass of water and some Magnecyl – Swedish version of Tylenol – on his table. “Mac?”
“I’m sleeping,” he murmurs, not completely awake yet.
“It’s your big brother speaking. Could you leave your hangover for just a second? It’s time to get ready for the important dinner.”
Even though my mother’s words have scarred me – for life probably – I still feel obligated to help out. I don’t want Marcus to become my dad’s new punching bag, now when I’m disowned. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I’m not in a very good mood today.
“I’m not going to. This is what you have to deal with when you want to live that wild life. Hangovers and important dinners have to walk hand in hand.”
“That sounds gay,” my brother mutters. Then he mumbles in Swedish, but I don’t care enough to listen what it’s about.
“Are you feeling okay?”
“My head hurts.”
“Tragic. Get up, get dressed. I have to go help Alex get ready, now when you’ve surrendered to the dark side.”
Marcus looks up. He’s pale and doesn’t look all that well. “I can’t go. I’ll throw up again.”
“But yesterday everything was just peachy, huh?” I snort. “Welcome to the world of alcohol. Get dressed, you can throw up later.”
My, I’m an evil bastard, aren’t I? It’s tough love. He won’t drink like this again until far into the future. Hopefully. Tactics are important. But I’ve never been more than a defenseman.
Alex is waiting for me outside the door. I wrap him up into my arms, and he’s making some content smacking noises. When I try to put him down, he starts to squeal. My head doesn’t manage to function until he’s stopped. I pick him up and sit down on the floor with him in my lap. He refuses to sit still while I’m trying to button his shirt. Why do babies have to wear suits?
Stupid parents. Everything has got to be so fucking perfect. Not even the baby gets away.
“Why is Marcus feeling sick?” Sebastian asks from the doorway. He looks like he was just woken up.
“No reason. He just had some bad things last night.”
“Sort of. You should get dressed. Remember the dinner? There are caterers coming over soon. Can you hand me Alex’s shoe?” I point at a tiny black shoe, lying by the door. Sebastian picks it up and tosses it at me. He hits me right in the head. Better that than hitting Alex, but still... “Sebastian!”
“Sorry. I think I’ll leave now,” he excuses himself and runs off. I growl. Ouch, my hangover.
Alex follows Marcus around when Marcus has finally decided to leave bed. When he locks himself into the bathroom, mostly to get away from Alex, Alex starts wailing like the world has just ended. Not even my comforting can make him quiet.
“Fredrik, do you mind watching your brother?” my father’s voice booms all over the second floor. No, I guess not, Father. If that is of course eligible for me to call you anymore.
“I’m on it,” I reply. I hear Marcus whimper from the bathroom when we won’t stop shouting.
Alex calms down when I entice him with some chocolate. A hyper brother is better than a screaming brother. Logic. I like that word.
“You should cover up that black eye,” my mother tells me when she rushes around downstairs, making room for the caterers. “These are important people.”
“With what? Hockey tape?”
“Come here.” She grabs hold of my face and starts applying that weird shit on my face. I whimper, but I don’t push her away. She’s hurting me. Why couldn’t I have just stayed in USA?
She continues covering up the bruises on my chin, cheek and neck. Yes, I did lots of bad things yesterday... At least my voice is steady again. “When do I have to leave?” I suddenly want to know.
“We’ll talk later. Don’t worry, you can stay until school starts. Unless you keep getting Marcus into trouble. Look up,” she instructs.
“I didn’t mean what I said,” I explain.
She lets go of my face for a single second. “Neither did I,” she confides. “But you still can’t stay here.”
Alex interrupts our conversation, bumping into the coffee table. He immediately starts to cry, my head is collapsing more and more for every sound he makes. My mom just ignores us, leaving to go do something else. I sigh and lean down to sooth the crying child. I wonder if anyone would sooth me if I cried?
God, I miss Catalina.