The lobby of the dingy motel was more akin to a world war two bunker. It was also playing P!nk's Sober, which was less than pleasing to an Andy Biersack already having to deal with a heavy fake beard, subtly applied fake wrinkles, baby powder in his new, heavy-handed, ill-experienced haircut (from an over-eager Craig) and a trench coat three sizes too big. Where Sandra had got all that he had no idea, but he could only conclude that this was karma of some sort, and that whoever dished it out was a fan of the angry pop star.
Even with this, Sandra had demanded Andy stand in the shaded corner of the room by a plant that looked as though it had some fatal disease. She had assigned Ashley, again, to keep by his side, and practically tied Bennett to the Jeep, not even making up an excuse to keep him away this time, simply saying "Brendon, you irritate me." He seemed to have lost all rights to his real name.
Craig was standing by Sandra's side, supplying her with money to pay for three rooms for the night. As he was fumbling with his wallet, a small girl came up to him. She had shortish brown hair which fell over her face and dressed simply in jeans and a t-shirt with a waving cat on the front with its brains leaking from its open skull. She couldn't have been that far into her teens. Craig and Sandra eyed her suspiciously. Without any sort of announcement, the girl pulled a very surprised Mr Owens into a tight hug. After he was good and cuddled, she grinned, gave Sandra a little wave, shot daggers at Ashley and Andy, then skipped out of the lobby, all the occupants of which, even the innocent of bystanders, were now staring after her. From outside there was a faint "screw you Brendon!"
Ashley was the first to break the stunned silence. "Dude, what just happened?"
"I believe…" Craig said slowly, seemingly very confused, "that I just got a hug off an Oli Sykes fangirl…" He grinned.
"Why are you so happy?" Sandra snapped. "God knows what her real intentions were! She may have bugged you or something!"
Craig shrugged. "Maybe; but I've needed a hug for ages now."
Sandra shook her head, making a noise of disgust, before asking for three rooms for the night. The receptionist of the motel didn't say much, just grunted, handed over the keys and took the money. He short changed the tiny drummer, but she decided a few measly dollars weren't worth causing a scene over.
The five had now been driving upstate for two days, surviving entirely on catnaps and gas station coffee, which in truth did not make for a happy existence. Craig and Bennett altered between driving and sleeping. Ashley had only been allowed the wheel once because when Bennett was in the back with Andy he flaunted their apparent relationship far too much. Sandra had eventually ordered him back up to the front, mostly because he was fantastically annoying and partially because Ashley was driving a hundred miles an hour in a thirty mile zone, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and glaring at the road like it had killed his mother, but even Andy had to admit he was glad to see the back of his boyfriend, though it did mean proximity to his ex.
Sandra really hadn't wanted to stop, it wasn't safe, but she didn't have a choice when Craig had nodded off at the wheel and very nearly drowned them all in a duck pond. Those ducks would never be the same again…
So idiotic or not, they now got to have a proper night's sleep in real beds, even if the lack of bedbugs was questionable.
Sandra took a room for herself, and then handed the remaining keys to Craig, and, reluctantly, Andy.
"I guess I can't keep you away from playing doctor forever," she rolled her eyes. "Just try and not cause too much noise? I know you're probably used to that from Ashley, but-OUCH!" She glared at Ashley, who was personally tired of what he'd sussed out she was doing, even though he was secretly hoping it would work. "I'd shoot you too if I had a gun…but yeah," she brushed past the two, whispering to Andy as she did so, "don't break the bed, I don't want to pay for your dick."
Andy blushed crimson under his disguise, hunching his shoulders to hide this as he walked out after the small girl, clutching the room key in his sweaty palm. He wanted to deny everything she had just said, but what was the point? He wouldn't be believed anyway. But he didn't want to do anything like that with Bennett, especially not while in the situation they were now. Or ever…but he just kept his silence and took the doctor's hand when he reached him and lead the way to their room.
Craig and Ashley were left guessing they had to bunk together. They eyed one another up for a few moments, before shrugging and wandering off in search of room twelve. On the way, Ashley produced a small bottle of whiskey from his jacket sleeve.
Craig stared in shock. "I always heard you had ways but that is ridiculous!"
"Calm your tits Owens," Ashley laughed, even after the worst car ride of his life the far too innocent blonde could amuse him. "I swiped it from a guy in the lobby while you were getting hug-raped."
"Oh," Craig looked sad. "I was kind of hoping you were a wizard…you're not going to get too drunk are you?"
"No," Ashley shook his head, and for once he wasn't lying. His chest might hurt like hell, the love of his life and best friend might despise him and be going out with what could only be described as a twat and he might be on the run from the law in the middle of a complex plot no one seemed to fully understand, except maybe some old friend he wasn't sure he could trust anymore, but, "I'm not that much of a bastard."
Hours later, Andy lay awake in a bed which could barely be described as double. The mattress was threadbare and slightly moist, the blanket was grimy and smelled of something he really didn't want to place and on the opposite side of his pillow he had discovered an alarmingly large bloodstain.
The room was pitch now, but each terrifying detail was still etched into his retinas. It didn't contain much, just a small sticky table with a coffee pot full of rat droppings, an unsettling painting of a woman on a bridge with the glass smashed and a window with greying, fraying curtains and a wide, low sill. These had received what seemed to be many knife wounds and a bible with many pen wounds and ripped pages and scorch marks lay open by it at the verse "You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters." Glancing over to see that had really made Andy feel more relaxed. He hadn't braved looking at the tiny adjoining bathroom. He'd desperately wanted a shower, but Bennett walking out with wide eyes looking as though he'd just been witness to a murder was all the convincing he'd needed that it could wait a little longer.
So now, he lay in the dark, one long arm wrapped around his waist, which wasn't as comfortable a position as it had been before, when the arm had been shorter and less bony. He was as far as he could get away from Bennett without drawing attention. He was absolutely exhausted; overtiredness wasn't allowing his eyelids to close over a day that had been far too long for his liking however. Maybe though, just maybe, he could fade out for a bit. He was sleepy enough for that. It wasn't quite as good as a proper snooze, but it was better than nothing.
His brain was just starting to flood with dream-like images when something shocked him back into reality. It wasn't anything big, just the noise of skin on skin and a pulling, nibbling sensation on his neck.
Andy groaned and shoved his boyfriend slightly to try and get him to stop. The kissing continued.
"Ben, I don't want to," he mumbled, his voice seemingly deeper asleep than his eyes or brain. His body was reacting so slowly that it might as well have been unconscious.
Bennett didn't reply, but his hands began to explore the other occupant of the bed. Andy let it be for a while, hoping that maybe he was just trying to bridge the gap between them. He was pulling him closer, even if his hands climbing up Andy's shirt weren't something he necessarily wanted. Eventually though the roaming hands grew bored with the flat torso and moved on to see what they could find under the elasticated waistband of his boxers.
Andy wriggled until he freed himself from the far too friendly arms. "What're you playing at? I said no."
At such proximity, he could make out the glare Bennett sent him in the gloom. "Come on, it's late, are you really going to play hard to get?"
"I'm not playing anything," Andy sighed, shuffling to the very edge of the mattress. "Just go to sleep Ben."
Bennett followed him across the bed, hands coming up again, but this time their touch was stronger, fiercer. They dug into Andy's jutting hips painfully and a small yelp escaped his lips. Bennett paid no attention and forced his tongue down Andy's throat until he almost choked. In a panic Andy bit down hard on the invader and it retreated with an irate growl. The hands, now acting with a fury, started trying to rip off his underwear.
"Fuck off!" Andy snapped, trying to force the scrawny boy away. Bennett was stronger than he looked though, stronger than Andy was, and he mounted him, forcing him over while digging his fingernails into his soft side and then pinning him down. He started struggling to take off his own nightwear, muttering angrily all the while.
"You've dragged me into hell Biersack, the most you can do it make it worth my while," he snarled. "And now after all this you can't stop making eyes at your ex-boyfriend! After all he did to you! You're pathetic."
"That's not true!" Andy cried. "Ben, Bennett, please, don't do this. Sandra, sh-she…I don't know why she's…I'm not choosing to be with Ashley all the time! P-please d-d-don't…I'm s-sorry!"
"Shut up!" he barked, and pulled Andy's head up by the hair, bending his neck so far backward it cut off his air supply. He slapped him across the face even while he choked and spluttered. "I tried being nice, but you just don't care about that. You like abusive boyfriends? I'll make Purdy look like a fucking saint."
Now free of the restrictions of clothing, he started manoeuvring himself into position. Before it could go any farther though, seized by a sudden burst of strength, and aided by the fact he was no longer being held so tightly, Andy managed to throw himself from under his attacker. He was almost completely naked, but what did that matter when he was being chased across a motel room that now seemed almost wholesome compared to the guy that only days ago he hadn't ever wanted to let go of. He threw the door open, slammed it right in Bennett's face, he could tell from the howl of pain, then ran. He didn't know exactly where he was running to, he just needed to get away. Maybe…Sandra…she'd keep him safe, it wasn't much more than she was already doing…she was…room twelve? Yeah…Room twelve was the floor below him; the stairs might slow him down. He glanced over his shoulder. He wasn't being pursued…yet.
"If it's Sandra with some cockamamie plan, crucify her," Craig grunted him the bed, pulling a pillow down over his head.
Ashley nodded in agreement to this plan, even though the gesture went unseen. Who the hell would be knocking at his door at three in the morning? A sudden cold dread filled his belly. It couldn't be the police…could it?
It wasn't. Opening the door, he was thrown backwards by a bundle of limbs and tears crashing into him, hyperventilating and gasping out gibbered words that made no sense in between sobs. Ashley automatically wrapped this creature into a protective hug, but it took him several seconds to identify it as Andy. His brown eyes opened wide in surprise; when did this happen?
"Holy shit is he ok?" Craig whispered having come out from under his pillow to see what the commotion was all about.
Andy looked up when he heard Craig's voice. He looked around, then at the person holding him. Realisation dawned on his face and he tried to break away.
Ashley held on to him tightly before he could go anywhere. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, Andy, calm down! What's happened?"
Andy just stared at him, blue eyes shining with almost a feverish quality.
"Craig," Ashley said. "Go see if you can get anything to help calm him down. I think he's going into shock."
Craig didn't waste any time with words, just nodded and jogged out of the flung open door, closing it gently behind him, sending a sympathetic glance over his shoulder.
Ashley took Andy's shoulders firmly in his grasp, loosening his hands only slightly when a soft gasp escaped the other man's bruised looking lips. That way, he guided him to sit cross-legged on the floor, before joining him there, facing him, gently taking one shaking hands and rubbing soothing circles into the back of it.
"Andy," he started softly, keeping his voice as kind as possible. "Sweetie, what happened?"
For a minute, Andy struggled to say anything. He spluttered out some nonsensical syllables, his one free hand fidgeted restlessly at everything and his chest heaved fast than ever. Eventually though, he choked out in a raspy voice, "Bennett."
Ashley froze. He finally took in the younger man's appearance. He was almost naked, which Ashley was surprised he hadn't noticed sooner. Both his t-shirt and boxers were ripped beyond repair and hung off him in position they were most definitely not meant to be worn. There were scratches and marks that would soon bruise all along his sides and hips. And, the thing that cut Ashley the deepest, a scarlet handprint on one of those snowy white cheeks.
"He…raped you," he spat. It wasn't a question.
Andy seemed very tiny when he whispered the word "tried" as his eyes overflowed with unshed tears.
Ashley's first reaction was to go pull that motherfucker's small intestine out through his mouth and strangle him with it. His second was to cut his balls off. The third was to just kill him. The fourth was to beat the crap out of him.
The fifth was the one he chose though. The fifth was to take Andy in his arms and rock him gently as the boy sobbed desperately, clutching at him like a life raft. It didn't matter that Ashley had hurt him right now, what mattered was he couldn't cope on his own and Ashley was the closest person to him.
They lost track of time, sitting on the floor like that, Andy curled up to Ashley's chest bawling his eyes out, Ashley trying to soothe him as best he could. It could've been five minutes or it could've been an eternity later when Craig returned onto the scene. By that time, Andy had somewhat wept himself into a stupor and Ashley was stroking his hair in an attempt to bring about proper sleep.
"Is he…is he ok?" Craig asked.
Ashley shook his head.
"I…couldn't…I didn't know what to get to calm him," Craig fumbled for words. "The guy at reception said he could bring tea th-"
"He doesn't need fucking tea," Ashley snarled, trying not to get so loud as to disturb the boy in his lap. "His fucking boyfriend tried to rape him Craig!"
Craig's eyes went saucer wide and his hand went to his mouth to cover the little 'O' it had become in shock.
"Get Sandra," Ashley sighed, managing to keep his temper under control. "We're getting out of here."
"In the middle of the night?"
"I'm not waiting around until morning, just so that jackass can make up some excuse to get Andy to forgive him." He sighed. "I of all people know he can be far too forgiving."
Craig just nodded, not mentioning the bullet to the chest; he didn't think that was all that forgiving, but then again, he didn't know the whole story. He went to wake Sandra.
Ashley stayed where he was for another few seconds. He looked down at the dozing boy. Softly, he brushed his throbbing cheek with his lips and swore he'd never let anyone hurt his Andy again. Then, he lifted him in his strong arms and carried him down to the waiting car.
When Andy woke again, he could feel the road moving under him. It took a moment or two for everything else to flood back to him. When it did though, he really wished it hadn't. He tried to raise himself up on his arm, but his whole body hurt, probably more from shock than anything else…though Bennett had done a pretty good job with the bruising.
"Easy there," a soothing voice whispered.
Andy's head shot around to see if his ears were deceiving him or not. They weren't; he was cuddled up to Ashley. He attempted once again to force his body into movement, but it just wasn't coming. There wasn't enough room in the back seat of the Jeep to shuffle away.
"Hey, hey, calm, ok?" Ashley raised his hands to show he meant no harm.
"What happened?" Andy gasped, alarmed at just how hoarse he was.
"We left your cunt of a boyfriend in that scabby room," the man cradling his head said. "Took off in the middle of the night as soon as you told me what happened. It's still very early, he probably hasn't even realised we've stolen his car yet."
Relief washed over Andy momentarily. Until, in a panic, a crazy thought struck him. "What if he comes after us?!"
"How do you know?!"
"Because," Ashley said simply and that was when Andy finally properly took him in.
The older man's tan skin was splattered in a light covering of blood. The knuckles on his right hand were slightly bruised. And from the angle he was at Andy couldn't be sure, but he thought there might be a tooth lodged in one of his Cubin heels.
"Plus I stole his glasses," Ashley grinned, holding up a small pile of twisted metal and shattered glass, as though he'd been reading Andy's mind.
The boy couldn't help it; he had to chuckle. Ashley grinned wider, and then looked straight into those beautiful blue eyes.
"Andy, I know I can never make up for what I did," he started solemnly. "I have no proper excuse for how I treated you and how much I hurt you. I don't expect you to forgive me. But…I just want you to know…I'm never going to let anyone hurt you again. As long as I live, I will protect you and keep you safe. I'll be your guardian angel. I love you Andrew Biersack. So even if you hate me forever, just know I'll always be there for you."
Andy had no reply for the sudden, beautiful speech. Words really weren't even worthy of it. Plus right now he didn't feel up to sorting through how he felt about anything, even if he had the slightest idea about Ashley.
So instead he smiled softly, said "I don't hate you," then lay his head back down in Ashley's embrace, nuzzling into his saviour.