They were all running from something. Sadly, that didn't mean it couldn't catch up with them.
Very Amazingly Special Thanks to Sherlock, who came up with this plot and gave me permission to write it, and then being even more amazing and beta-ing (is that how you'd write that word?) for me.
CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD PART ONE...
Brendon was a good kid. He did as he was told, even when he didn’t agree. He was acing every subject, even made it into the top ten of his senior class. Every Sunday he went to church like a good Mormon; didn't skip like some of the other kids tended to. He’d never been to a party that didn't involve a birthday cake and balloons or family. No, while all of his peers were spending their time rebelling and daring to step out of line once in a while, good little Brendon stayed in his room and studied. Sometimes, he played the old piano in the living room, or his beat up guitar handed down to him after his brother left for law school. Brendon’s life was routine and planned, right up to the list of colleges his parents deemed acceptable for him to attend. There were never any surprises in Brendon's life, nothing new or unpredictable.
Brendon hated his life.
It was this fact that had brought him to the seat across from his parents at the kitchen table. His fingers curled nervously in the pale pink table cloth while he looked to his mother who had stilled completely at his words; her mug still pressed to her painted lips.
“Would you mind repeating yourself, son? I don’t think I heard you correctly.” That was dad, always the one to challenge him, his, fingers rifling through the Sunday paper as if they were talking about the weather or making plans to see a relative. Brendon knew what his father was doing; giving him the chance to take back what he’d said and become the golden son they expected him to be once more.
Brendon was tired of this game. It was no fun when he kept losing. “I said I’m not planning on going to college. I have no interest in anything they have there.”
His mother had released the iron grip she had on the coffee mug by now, offering a tight lipped smile as she avoided meeting his eyes. “Now, honey, don’t jump ahead of yourself. We can keep looking for one that suits you better.”
Brendon barely registered his nails digging into his palms through the fabric of the table cloth. “Mom, you’re not listening to me. I’m trying to be honest with you here; I don’t want to go to any university, period!”
His father was shaking his head; his grip on the newspaper tightening a fraction as he gruffly went to turn the page. He'd yet to look at his son once throughout the conversation. His father’s voice was light as he spoke, as though he thought Brendon was only joking. “Son, you really think you will get a good job with that attitude? You’re not five, this is no time to start dreaming of being a rock star again—“
“I can dream of whatever I’d like to! Just because you chose to live life as a stupid accountant doesn’t mean I need to do the same! And would you look at me already, dammit!?” Brendon didn’t realize he’d ripped the paper out of his father’s hands until he heard the tear. Without anything to focus on his father was forced to look at him; and he did so with a frosty glare straight into Brendon's eyes.
This was when his good old mom decided it was time to step in. “Brendon, sweetie, why are you acting like this?”
Brendon felt the scowl on his face as he gritted out, “Why am I acting like this? Maybe because I felt it was time I decided something for myself! What I do with my future is my choice,” He pointed to himself before jabbing his finger towards his father “And I will dream of being whatever I want to!”
His father wasn’t exactly wearing a look of understanding as he stood up, the legs of his chair screeching against the kitchen tile. “You listen here! I will not have disrespect in this household, and I will not have you throwing away your future for a dream that will end up dying eventually! And then where will you be? I’ll tell you where, crawling back home, begging for help back on the right track!” He leered over Brendon menacingly, rage smoldering in his eyes.
Brendon’s ears grew red in anger as he yelled, “Don’t act like I’m not capable of doing something on my own! You can’t force me to do anything!”
His father wasn’t backing down, slamming his fist on the table causing his mother to jump as she watched the two fight in horror. “You are not going to embarrass this family! I will not have a failure as a son!”
Brendon narrowed his eyes as he asked, “Is that so?”
The next thing that came from his father’s mouth was almost enough to make him laugh. “You think if you walk out into the world without a proper education, that you will just breeze on by? You think you’ll ever find a girl who wants to be married a failure without a job?”
There was silence while Brendon thought over what his father had said. He couldn't help the slightly hysteric laughter that bubbled from his lips without control. “Well, then I guess it’s a good thing I’m not looking to find a girl!” He spoke the words with sarcasm; deciding he had nothing more to lose.
His mother, who had not spoken for quite some time, asked with shocked curiosity, “And why is that?”
Laughter escaped from him as his words spilled out, “Oh yeah, that's the other thing I've been meaning to tell you. Not only am I going to ditch being big man on campus, but I swing for the other team, too! Wow, didn’t you two do a bang up job raising me?”
Brendon’s laughter was quickly swallowed by a tense silence, both his parents staring at him in disbelief. No, not just disbelief, there was a flicker of something else. What was that, disappointment? Disgust? Well, he couldn't say he was surprised.
Eventually his mother’s shocked gaze dissolved into a hard stare, cold and unforgiving. “Get out.”
Brendon felt himself falter. “What?”
“I said, get out. You’re not welcome here anymore. You want to ruin your life? Fine, just don’t involve us in it.”
He wasn’t sure if the cracking he heard then was the back of his chair meeting the hard floor, or his heart snapping in half. At the moment, it didn’t really matter. He looked at them for a long moment before turning on his heels, fists clenched and knuckles white at his sides while he rushed towards the door. He didn’t even think to grab anything; he was too focused on how suffocating the atmosphere had become inside the house within such a short amount of time and how he couldn’t stand to be around any longer.
Brendon had been walking for a while now, not quite familiar with his surroundings. The best he could do to identify his whereabouts were the houses, fit in tight next to each other and lining either side of the street. Each house seemed to grow less well kept as he continued walking. He began to see less trimmed lawns and cozy decorations and more patches of weeds and the occasional empty beer bottle. Taking note of the state of the houses Brendon guessed he had to be somewhere on the east side, the poor side of town.
A crash sounding from within one of the houses caused him to jump. His eyes widened as fits of shouting erupted, followed by another crash. Hesitantly Brendon began to shuffle down the pavement once more before he saw something fly through the window. Not wanting to be caught in the middle of something he hurried his pace. Eventually curiosity got the better of him and He slowed a bit when he heard the door being yanked open before slamming shut, muffling the shouts that still filtered through from inside. Glancing back He caught sight of a boy storming down the driveway of the house in question, hair a mess and matted with blood.
Brendon quickly wrapped his arms around his torso, forcing himself to look away. The first thing he thought to do was to go and check on the boy and make sure he was alright, or at the very least notify someone. Then Brendon remembered the part of town he was in and knew that it was most likely best to stay out of things that didn't directly involve him here. In any case he had more important things to think about, as in where he would be living for the rest of his life.
Today hadn’t been a good day for Ryan Ross. He’d lost his wallet on the way home from school, so he couldn’t stop and get anything to eat. While others would just shrug and continue on their way, this fine detail translated into no food for Ryan until he found enough money to buy it himself. He could almost guarantee his dad had forgotten to pick up dinner, probably too busy drowning his sorrows with his good friend Jack Daniels. They had gotten very acquainted in the past few years, and their bond only grew stronger as time went on.
Ryan flexed his fingers as he walked up to the front door, hesitating a few moments before finally reaching for the doorknob. Better face it now then later. Noisily the front door creaked open while Ryan slid through it. The first few times this had happened Ryan had cringed and paused for several moments, hoping his father hadn't heard. Now he’d probably react to it not making any noise. He shut the door carelessly, noticing the couch was not currently occupied by a snoring drunk. This could mean one of two things: his dad was not drinking and had actually made dinner for once, or his dad hadn’t consumed enough to pass out yet. Knowing how things went in his life Ryan scoffed at the idea of his father attempting to make food. There was no doubt which of the scenarios was reality.
For a moment Ryan considered just going into his room and locking the door for the night. If he stayed out of his dad’s way the night could possibly pass by decently; or at least as decent as a night in his life could be. His train of thought was suddenly interrupted by the obnoxious rumbling in his stomach. Well, he could say goodbye to a peaceful sleep tonight. With a sigh on his lips Ryan made his way towards the kitchen with the hope that there would be something edible and not rotten in it. He was already skinny enough without starvation sneaking its way into the mix. He’d rather not have a teacher admit him to the hospital for supposed anorexia. He’d been approached before already. Ryan was stopped mid-journey to the fridge by the sound of a booming voice.
“Jesus boy, took you long enough to get home didn’t it!?” Even after all this time Ryan still winced at the sound of his dad’s intoxicated voice bouncing off the walls. The man really had no decency when he was smashed and unfortunately he kept proving this fact to his son every time it happened. This equaled out to be over ninety percent of the time he was conscious. When the man wasn't wasted he did appear to be a fraction better, although not by much. Whereas the drunken dad acted like those horrifyingly ignorant hicks TV producers used as means of a storyline on a bad drama, the sober version of this man just acted resigned and depressed.
Ryan sighed a bit, staying a safe distance from his father as he turned to answer him. “I’m home early, dad. I decided not to eat on the way home.”
“Don’t lie to me boy! I bet you were with your druggie friends snorting crap up your nose somewhere! Miranda always worried you’d get involved in the wrong crowd!”
Ouch, Ryan thought. With his father pulling out the mom card already Ryan knew he must have been drinking for quite some time now. He didn’t usually start whining about his mom until ten minutes into the conversation.
“Dad, I don’t hang out with drug addicts. And mom doesn’t care, anyway.” Ryan spoke offhandedly, tired of revisiting this conversation.
“Don’t talk about her like that! Miranda was a wonderful mother you just didn’t appreciate her!” His words were beginning to jumble up and stick together. Ryan had to strain his ears a bit to make out certain parts. Too bad they didn’t teach you how to speak Drunk in school.
“Maybe you should lie down, Dad.” Ryan suggested before freezing, not quite understanding why the words had come from his mouth as he knew it was a mistake the minute he said it.
His father’s eyes crinkled in anger as he slurred out, “Don’t tell me what to do, boy. I’m not your little puppet! You can’t drive me away like you did to Miranda!”
Ryan ran a hand through his hair, trying to keep calm as the worn out debate that had never been won came back up. “I didn’t drive mom away, Dad. She got tired of you after you lost your job a while back, remember?”
Ryan had seen it coming a mile away. His mother had never seemed too committed to his dad; he wouldn't have been surprised if she had been seeing someone on the side. It had only gotten worse when his dad was laid off. His mother never did like living the poor lifestyle.
What Ryan didn't see was the half empty bottle of jack thrown at his head. Luckily for him his Dad had poor aim, especially when intoxicated. The bottle shattered against the wall a foot away from Ryan, the shards of glass and its contents falling to the floor.
“So you think this is my fault?!? You ungrateful little—”
Ryan lost his patience as his father’s words turned into a jumble of misplaced letters and stuttering. “Christ, dad, maybe if you put the bottle down for a second and started acting like you’re supposed to, we could have worked this out a while ago!”
None of this was new. They fought like this all the time, usually ending with bruises and blood on Ryan’s end. This was different though; Ryan had already been having a horrid day and he didn’t want to deal with his dad acting as his son was the spawn of the devil just for one day.
His shoulder smacked against the door frame of the kitchen as he was shoved through it backwards by meaty hands, lower spine hitting the arm of their ratty sofa.
“Watch how you talk to me! You’re probably high or something, thinking you can disrespect me like that!”
Ryan felt his shoulders tense as his dad continued. Was the man really this blind? Still, after all these years? It disgusted him to know that the man who took part in making him was so weak minded. Ryan refused to be the same and finally he'd had enough. With the strength of all the anger he'd built up over the years Ryan put his palms flat on his fathers' shoulders, shoving the man away from him. There was a moment after his father had stumbled away where neither of them moved, but Ryan could see the rage beginning to pool in his fathers' eyes. Over all the years not once had Ryan physically reciprocated, surely he had tried to block as much as he could but never had he himself lashed out. Now that he had he knew he was beyond hope. Things only elevated from there as Ryan's Dad would have none of it and reacted with his fists.
Ryan could barely see past the blinding rage he felt and the fists connecting to his body. He could feel warm liquid dripping down the side of his face, blood or booze he didn't know and he thought he heard the sound of a window breaking underneath the noise of both his and his dad's yelling. It made him wonder if he’d make it out of this alive. Finally gaining the strength to tear himself away from his rampaging drunk of a father Ryan stormed towards the door, knocking over the side table next to the couch on the way, the sound of it crashing against the hardwood floor loud in the new silence.
As he opened the door he heard his father slur out through cracked lips, “You walk out that door, don’t bother comin' back!”
Ryan smiled bitterly, thinking what a great opportunity it was. With that in mind he slammed the door behind him, taking off down the road.
Ryan hadn’t ever realized how scarily similar all the neighborhoods seemed to look. He felt like a lab rat trying to blindly find its way to the end of a maze. After what felt like hours of stumbling through people’s yards and circling around dead-end streets; at an even worse disadvantage thanks to his swelling eyes and the blood dripping in front of his vision, he finally made his way into town. It wasn’t too crowded and thankfully it was dark enough that if Ryan walked with his head down no one would notice how mangled he surely looked.
When His thoughts caught up with him to notify him that he was royally screwed at this point he cursed himself for not grabbing anything on his way out. Maybe a bus would come by soon and he could throw himself under it.
“You’re a lying bastard!” Spencer could hear the scream from the kitchen flow all the way upstairs and into his locked bedroom; and of course the accompanying crash of what was probably a plate sailing through the air.
The reply was a louder, gruffer, angrier, “You’d think after all these years we’d wasted together, you would be a little more trusting of me!”
“Right, because you are so deserving of my trust!” Another crash followed; and another after that.
“Jesus Christ! Stop being a crazy bitch and leave my damn plates alone!” Seriously, that was what he was worried about? Spencer scoffed in disgust, unsuccessfully trying to absorb himself in his book.
“Your plates; could you please remind me when we decided they were your plates!?” This had to be the most childish argument Spencer ever heard in his life, and he certainly had many to choose from.
“I bought them, I deserve them! As a matter of fact, if we go by who bought what with whose money I would own everything; right down to your stupid makeup!”
“My god, I must have been on the brink of insanity and complete desperation when I decided to marry your filthy ass!”
Spencer let out a growl of frustration, angrily flinging his book across the room and watching it knock over his desk lamp. He pulled his legs up to his chest, gripping at strands of his hair as he tried his best to drown out the angry shouts from downstairs. He wished he could say he was used to it by then, when truly the fact was that it got to him more and more every day.
His parents started fighting months ago, after his mom caught his dad with another woman. Of course, he’d done the whole, ‘I’ll never do it again, I love you so much, honey’ crap that he really didn’t mean. Then a month later she caught him with another woman. It honestly didn’t take long for shit to hit the fan. And now, in the middle of a messy divorce his parents were fighting over everything. And by everything, Spencer literally meant everything. Just the other day they fought over who would get the coat hangers in the closet.
Spencer was pretty sure they were just searching for things to fight over now. The biggest deal was the house; they’d been practically tearing out each other’s throats over who got to stay and who was kicked out onto the street. Now, Spencer knew his parents were going through some horrible stuff at the moment, and maybe he’d have been a bit more understanding if they had included him into the unsolved equation. Because throughout this whole ordeal, he hadn’t heard either of them discuss who would get custody of him. Not once. In all truth, it hurt more than hearing his parents cut through each other with harsh words and their good china. Why didn’t anyone care where he ended up? He was their son; shouldn't he matter more than coat hangers?
“So, Spencer, how are you?”
Spencer had to hold back incredulous laughter at the question. What was he supposed to say? ‘Oh, well, my mother threw some plates around yesterday while my father called her an array of colorful words. I got to listen to all of it from my bedroom, so, yeah, I’m just dandy!’
Oh, so the man was expecting an honest to god answer. Well, then an honest answer was what he would receive.
“What do you think, sir? How would you feel in my situation?” Spencer let a wry smile slip over his lips. He didn't really expect the man to understand. He'd probably had a good family, this lawyer, one who valued him over inanimate objects. The man in front of him sighed in defeat. He’d been assigned as their lawyer and was here to discuss who Spencer would like to live with after all this is over.
“Look, kid, I know this is hard on you right now. You’ve been around them for most of your life—”
Spencer shrugged, unsure of how to take that and cut in. "Well yeah, aren't all children around their parents for the majority of their childhood?" He said the words without meaning to get an answer, but he received one any ways.
Mr. Lawyer (Spencer was positive the man told him his name, but he could honestly say he hadn’t cared enough to listen) looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Well, kids adopted into families aren’t usually so adjusted to their new parents, but since you were so young—”
Spencer froze. This guy couldn’t possibly be legitimate.
“Um, I think you’ve got the wrong Smith family, because I’m not adopted,” he informed the lawyer.
The man gave him a pitiful look. “You are Spencer Smith, correct? Your guardians are Mary and Garret Smith? The couple chose to adopt you at the age of-" The man continued on but the words fell deft to Spencer's ears.
Spencer felt his body begin to tremble as he tried to hold back the hurricane of emotions swirling inside of him. He refused to come apart in front of this stranger. Without thought he raised himself from the couch, letting his feet take him through the motions of walking. He could hear the lawyer calling after him as he walked briskly towards the door, but ignored it. He couldn’t stay in this house any more. Not with those people who hadn’t had the decency to let him know they weren’t his actual parents.
With his mind in overdrive Spencer stormed out the front door, leaving it open as he grabbed his bike from where it was leaning on the side of the house. He never did bother to lock it up, living in the neighborhood he did. Within seconds he was pedaling down his driveway and speeding down the street, letting the wind knock out the jumble of thoughts and emotions from his mind.
Most people would say college is a whole scrapbook of memories you don’t want to forget, that it’s the first taste of real freedom a young person gets to experience. It’s full of parties and romance, and learning all sorts of things that will help you land the career you want to spend the rest of your life doing.
For Jon, this wasn’t the case.
He didn’t have time to think about all the wonders that should have been happening through his college years; not when he had to juggle two jobs, worry about passing his classes, and keeping his apartment. Jon’s mind was practically a complex puzzle of uncompleted papers and upcoming exams and unpaid bills. A puzzle that had been stomped on and mixed up so that there was no way to find where the different pieces went and which ones fit together; a puzzle that had been left unsolved for quite some time now.
Of course Jon didn’t have time to mull over these confused, out of place thoughts and worries because he needed to get to the diner on time. His boss already told him she’s tired of him being late for his shifts. So he decided to make progress by pulling on a black T-Shirt he was ninety-six percent positive was clean and heading for the door. He slipped on his worn flip flops that made a loud racket whenever they slapped against the bottom of his feet, the ones he couldn’t seem to bring himself to throw away. Mostly because they were his only wearable pair of shoes and getting new ones would cost him one of his pay checks. So loud flip flops it was.
Most of the people in his building were still asleep, because who wanted to get up at four-thirty in the morning anyway? Jon's shoes echoed throughout the hall as he ventured down it, but nothing could be done. With a silent apology sent to his neighbors Jon tried to hurry up about it. Stepping out onto the street he made his way around the corner and a few blocks this way, and then that way, before coming across the diner. He pushed open the door, walking to the small employee storage room and grabbing his apron from the hook. Reaching into one of the pockets he pulled out his name tag attaching it haphazardly and probably upside down, to his shirt.
“Jon! You’re on time, for once. I guess I don’t have to fire you.”
He turned around to find his boss, Mandy, staring at him with a smirk on her face. He returned it, moving past her and out of the room and into the dining area.
“Please, like you would have the heart to fire a struggling, young man,” he said, only half-jokingly.
Mandy sighed, following after him. She opened her mouth like she wanted to say something; she always wanted to say something. Thankfully she didn’t have the chance because the bell at the top of the door jingled, signaling a customer.
Jon called over to the man, “Go ahead and take a seat, sir! I’ll be right with you!”
The man rolled his eyes, muttering, “Yeah, because you’re so busy at the moment.”
Ah, it was going to be one of those days.
Jon burst into the room, sending his professor an apologetic glance before sitting down in one of the empty seats and taking out his notebook. He looked around, seeing many other students already had a heap of notes copied down. He bit his lip, looking down at his own blank, wrinkled sheet of paper. The girl beside him must have noticed his distress because she tapped on his shoulder and slid her notebook towards him, giving him a view of what was already discussed at the beginning of class. He gave her a grateful smile, picking up his pen and quickly scrawling everything down. Hopefully he’d be able to read them later. He looked up once he was done, trying to tune into the lecture and comprehend where they were today. Purposefully he ignored the pitiful look his professor sent his way.
Cleaning was never one of Jon’s favorite things. He hated mess, but he hated actually doing something about it even more. He remembered being a teenager and sitting with his mom in the living room while she attempted to give him tips and advice for the future. Now that he was older he wished he hadn’t been too busy thinking about his crush on Regina Benson to pay attention. All of this added to his distaste for his second job: straightening up used motel rooms; though so far it was more like trying to clean up abused motel rooms. He just hoped that by the time he got home from his shift that day the stench of sex and drugs would leave his nostrils and clothing.
Jon was used to being tired. When it came to juggling two jobs and his school work, there was no way he wouldn’t be tired at the end of the day. The answer to this was usually a large cup of coffee. It was one of the only luxuries he allowed himself anymore. The problem was Jon had an assignment he hadn’t even started on yet that was due in the next two days and getting coffee would cut into the amount of time he had left. Although if he got the coffee he would most likely stay up longer, allowing him more time to work. He gnawed at his lip, considering his options as he stepped onto the street.
The last thing he heard was the sound of brakes screeching against the road.
Pete used to have it all. He had the girl, the job, the best friend, and he had the best son anyone could ask for. It was things like this that used to make him wonder what he had done to deserve so much. Now he thinks it must have been some sick joke; to tempt him with so many wonderful things only to rip them away at the least expected moment. Pete didn’t really remember how it felt to be sober. All he remembered was the feeling of his heart being ripped from his chest and strapped to a stick of dynamite, and then the feeling of an ice cold bottle of whiskey in his hand.
After that everything got a little blurry.
Gabe might have come by earlier, but he couldn’t be certain. Gabe was always up for a drink; something Pete really liked about him. For a while Pete thought about calling him, but he couldn’t remember where he put the phone. Maybe that was why his ears were ringing before; maybe he'd misplaced the phone inside his head. No, you couldn't put a phone inside your head. That was silly, thought Pete. He let out a bark of laughter before groaning at the pain it caused. Pete closed his eyes, taking another swig from the bottle in his shaking hand. Things weren’t supposed to end up like this. This should have been his weekend with Bronx.
The judge gave Pete a look of pity before a mask of complete professionalism was up and in place. Ashlee hadn’t looked at him since he arrived at the courthouse. He wished she would.
Pete was hoping the final decision would be in his favor. He wasn’t living in a fairytale though and he knew it was stacked against him. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t cause a scene following the verdict.
The judge stayed silent for a long while, before picking up his gavel. “I hereby grant full parental custody of Bronx Simpson-Wentz to Ashlee Simpson.”
The sound of the gavel hitting wood reverberated through Pete’s body, his eyes widening in horror.
“You can’t do that! He’s my son!” He yelled; panic and desperation leaking into his words.
The judge shook his head, this was it. Pete had lost his son. Ashlee never did look at him.
Pete was used to being pushed away. As a child his teachers had given up on him by his tenth grade year, his parents had given up on him and sent him to boot camp not a year later. Now his wife had given up on him and left while the justice system had left him with nothing. But Bronx hadn’t given up on him. He was only three, how could he know what sort of Dad he’d gotten?
Pete knew he’d made mistakes in his life. He knew the dangers of drugs, he knew the difference between coke and pot and he knew the difference between tipsy and completely trashed. He also knew how to ignore it very well. Apparently he was the only one.
Well, it didn’t matter what he’d done in the past. He hadn’t ruined Bronx; he still had a chance to be there for him. Screw Ashlee, and screw that judge. He helped make that kid so he had every right to see him when he wanted to. Without giving it any more consideration Pete struggled to stand up. He stumbled in the direction of the front door, pausing to take a swig from his liquid courage every few steps. His breathing was ragged as he fumbled with the doorknob, not allowing himself to pause as he made his way towards his car.
Once inside he shoved the key into the ignition and shifted into Drive, forgoing the safety of a seatbelt. He slammed on the gas, driving over the curb and onto the sidewalk before managing to get straight on the road. His hands were shaking. He screamed at them to stop it, that he was too strong for this; that he was better than this. He barely had time to register the fact that he was crying when he caught sight of a young guy slowly making his way across the street. He swore loudly, slamming on the brakes; the voice in the back of his head whispering that it was already too late.
It was always too late.
A/N: Hopefully you enjoyed! Just, please, don't expect the next part for a while. It took such a long-ass time to write this, there's no telling how long it will take me to write the next part. And, I really appreciate it if you reviewed and/or rated. If this turned green I'd probably go into some sort of shock. But, yeah, until next time :)xx