Today I just voted for the first time and it went on like this: I was inside the voting booth skimming through a 3-4 pages long list of names and political parties I've never heard of and I was like: "wtf, who do I vote for?". Long story short, I don't have the slightest idea who I voted for. Not that it mattered anyway. Kids, don't grow up, it's a trap. :)

"What do you mean she's back?"

He stood there perplexed, not knowing what to expect. First the money, now this. It didn't make any sense to him. Reggie continued to toy with his keys, and Paul realized, by the way his eyes were looking everywhere but at him, that he wasn't telling him everything. He was holding out on him.

"C'mon, spit it out!" he said harshly, the tone making Reggie's eyes glance briefly at his face. Reggie was acting; quite badly, may Paul say; trying to look confused. Paul sees right through him, he always does. Reggie is easy to read, so much like Ash. Paul grit his teeth tightly until his jaw bones started to ache; so far, Reggie's kindness and patience has worked in his favor. There had been times when he wished he was Reggie, moments which very often ended with him smashing his fist into the bathroom mirror, then spending minutes plucking the bloody pieces out of his fist. Never had he hated himself more than in those moments.

"Look, I don't know what you are talking about." Reggie ceased his toying and grasped the keys tighter in his large hand. "I have to go and pick her up." He made and pause and his eyes softened, finally looking Paul in the eye; the younger man broke the contact seconds later. "Just stay here. Don't leave."

Even though he did not wanted to see her, the idea of leaving the house never crossed his mind until Reggie mentioned it. Something was holding him in place and he resumed himself to sitting there in the middle of the living room, feeling nausea spread from his stomach up to his gullet. Left alone in the house, he vaguely registered the sound made by the car door being slammed and the engine coughing before coming to life. The front door was left open, temptingly. But where to go? He had no option.

Never in his life had he felt so lonely.

He stormed into the kitchen, the gleaming blades of the knifes smiling at him. He stared and stared at them, but the more he stared, the more ridiculous the idea got. He sighed and sat at the table, lowering his head on the cold stone which glued to his cheek and calmed him down a little.

'It's okay,' he assured himself, and suddenly felt completely stupid about it. He's been distant from others for as long as he could remember; fewer people in his life meant fewer problems for would not have to worry about them leaving him, disappointing him or hurting him in any way. He felt a peace when he was alone with himself; but sometimes himself just wasn't enough. There were

times when he wished he had somebody, and those were the moments when he broke down and ceased trying to keep tears from falling.

Unable to think of a strategy, he stood and circled the kitchen twice before a feeling of unsafety hit him hard and he headed up to his room. He could eventually lock himself in and refuse to come out of there. Once the door was closed behind him, he slumped down, effectively blocking it with his back. His hands shook violently; he tried to convince himself it was because of hunger. He hadn't eaten much that day and acid started to gnaw at the walls of his stomach. However, he was pretty sure that if he even dared to take a bite out of anything, he'd throw it up immediately. He banged the back of his head against the door three times, relishing into the dull pain that brought him back to reality.

He couldn't do much but wait for the inevitable to happen, and pray this won't turn into one of those moments of weakness that he tried to hard to keep locked away.

Ash glared at his ringing cell phone as if it had suddenly sprouted wings and sharp fangs and started to hiss at him like an angry cat. He waited until it became silent and jumped slightly when it went off again.

'No, not now. I can't deal with this now.' The ringtone died again. But when it proceeded to drill into Ash's eardrums for a third time, he could not take it anymore. He rose up from his bed and approached the phone like one would approach a very venomous viper. However, his tense posture relaxed when he saw the name flashing on the screen.

"Gary!" He said, quite cheerfully. He wasn't as glad to hear from his old friend as he was that the person on the other end of the line wasn't who he expected it to be. He knew Gary Oak ever since they were in kindergarten, and later, when he was old enough to understand, he learned that Gary lived with his grandfather and didn't see much of his parents either. But Gary was fine, always with a smile; and the occasional smug smirk; on his face and seemed like nothing could stand in his way.

Sometimes Ash envied Gary for his ability to not let things get to him. In those moments Ash would clench his fists at his own image in the mirror, and will himself to stop thinking about it.

'Ashy boy!' Ash made a face at the sound of the nickname, but smiled nonetheless. 'Haven't heard from you in a while.'

The conversation lasted for about thirteen minutes and left a large, dumb face on Ash's face. He congratulated Gary for finally asking Misty out, and amused himself by listening to the brunet freak out about it. In the end, however, Gary's tone became sober.

'If anything happens, just tell me. You can count on me.'

At that moment Ash patted himself on the back for choosing to reach out to people, instead of shutting everyone out.

Time passed too slow; anxiety was out to kill him. Paul gave up squirming against the door and laid down on the bed. The whole idea of his mother returning home would not leave him alone; it insisted and kept drilling hole inside Paul's mind. It seemed irrational. Just yesterday Reggie got the money from her, she seemed as if she was doing well. Why come back? Why, why, why?

Paul hit the pillow in frustration and then laughed at how pathetic he must have looked. But the silence scared him; the house had never been silent before, there was always some sort of noise, a TV, stuff breaking, his father yelling, his mother snoring, the headboard of Reggie's bed slamming into the wall; Paul preferred to put his pillow over his head at those moments. Now, though, any kind of sound would have been welcome; any sound that could shatter the feeling of abandonment that engulfed him.

His ears were ringing. He rushed to the door, yanking it open just in time to hear voices coming from downstairs. Horrifyingly familiar voices. First, a foreign language struck his ears and he frowned, not daring to walk to the balustrade and look. And then Reggie's voice. He swallowed hard and slowly paced towards the edge of the stairs.

She was in the door frame. Sober and well-dressed. Her hair was done, and so were her nails. A wave of animosity washed over him; she was doing well and yet she had left them to struggle. But then he remembered about the money and the fact that, despite her apparently much better life abroad, she came back to them. Maybe, just maybe there was still some maternal instinct left inside her.

He frowned, though, when she entered the house and behind her appeared a man, reeking of Italian from his olive skin to his Armani suit. He fought the urge to storm downstairs and land a punch on his face. Busy glaring at the man, he barely noticed that Reggie was shouting his name.

"Paul, come down here!" He hesitated at first, but took a deep breath and walked down the stairs. The stairwell had never seemed so long and Paul felt like the more he walked, the farther he got from the bottom of them. And when he was finally there, he looked defiantly at them, daring them to say something first. What came next took him completely by surprise.

"Paul, you've grown so much!" his mother's arms were around him and he choked on his own saliva; the embrace was warm and loving and his body relaxed in it despite himself. He couldn't remember the last time his mother had hugged him like that; he could almost say it had never happened before. The sensation was foreign, but not unpleasant and Paul was surprised to find out that all the violent and resentful thought addressed to his mother had been erased from his head. But above his mother's shoulder he met the man's gaze and the spell was broken. He pulled himself out of the embrace and regained his rigid posture.

"What's going on? Who is he?"

Reggie and the woman exchanged glances and Paul could feel the desperation grow again. He had a feeling he won't like the explanation he'll be given.

Sorry I had to end it here, but it's late and I've got a lot to do tomorrow.

Review, pretty please?