A/N: Sorry for the wait. School and stuff…Ugh. Thanks for reviewing and everything. It makes my day. I hope you like this chapter. :)

Disclaimer: I do not look, sound, or act like Vincent Kennedy McMahon (okay, not all the time) so I guess I do not own WWE. Nor do I own the song, Wake Up Time, which appears in this chapter.

Chapter 3: Wake Up Time

We were on our way to the hospital in Matt's car. Shane, who was also friends with Shannon, was in with us. I was feeling more guilt than anything else. I could have prevented this. I should have told him about Mike.

But I didn't. And now my best friend was hurting because of my mistake.

Since Matt was speeding—I was shocked no cops got us—we made it to the nearby hospital in record time. We immediately rushed out of the car and into the waiting room of the building. The receptionist was glaring at us as we got close to us.

"We're here to see our friend, Shannon Moore," Matt told her.

She looked up over her black-framed glasses. "Your friend, you say? We don't allow friends in the patients' rooms. Just family."

"But we may as well be his family!" exclaimed Matt but he didn't press any further. He just shook his head, for he knew he wasn't getting anywhere. "Can we just sit down and wait a while then?"

Looking up again in annoyance, she said, "Yes and stay out of my hair."

"Will do," mumbled Matt, walking toward the waiting room.

We all sat down with heavy hearts. My whole being was filled with guilt. I kept telling myself that I could have stopped this from happening. It could have been prevented. I should have gone out looking for Shannon instead of getting on the bus to be with Maria. What was my problem? What was I thinking?

"Jeff?" I heard Matt say in a worried tone. "Are you okay? You're looking kinda pale, bro."

I shook my head to clear it. "Yeah, yeah, I'm good. Just worried about Shannon. I'm fine."

"Okay," Matt said slowly, unsure whether to believe me or not. "But you know if there's something wrong, you can tell me, right? I'm always all ears."

"Uh-huh, I know." I knew I could talk to him, I just didn't want to right then. I just wanted to criticize my capability of being a friend. It wasn't looking too good.

Matt and Shane were off in their own conversation, making assumptions and predictions about what probably happened to Shannon. I didn't listen to anything they were saying. It hurt too much.

We waited for what seemed like hours for someone to come out and tell us how Shannon was. It was never-ending torture. All I wanted at was someone to come over and say, "Shannon's gonna be okay."

But no one was saying anything.

I pulled out my phone and dialed the number of a person who would listen to me.

"Hello?" said the voice.

"Maria," I sighed.

When she spoke again, her voice was much more frantic than before. "Oh, my gosh. Jeff, did you hear about Shannon?" she asked instantly.

I looked over at Matt and Shane. "Yeah," I answered. "I'm at the hospital right now." I didn't mention to her how hospitals make me sick, reminding me of the last time I was at one. Then, I was watching my mother fade away.

"Do you know how he is? Have you seen him?"

I was taken aback by how worried she was. I never knew that they were so close. But then, maybe they weren't. Maybe this was just Maria's natural reaction. "No," I replied. "They won't let us in. I'm with my brother and his friend."

"Do you have any idea what happened?" was the next question she fired off.

Yes, I wanted to say but instead thought it. Yes. But I don't just have an idea. I know exactly what happened. And it's my fault. My actual words were, "I heard that he got beat up pretty bad."

"I wonder who did it," she mused thoughtfully.

My heart was screaming, telling me to say who it was. My brain, however, was not so forthcoming. I went with the brain this time around. "I have no clue at all."

By then, I was fighting heavily with my conscience. To say something or not to say something—that is the question. By not saying anything, I felt like a grand load was being put on my shoulders.

Maria was still trying to make sense of it all. "Well, is there anyone who really hates him or something? You would know, wouldn't you? You guys are pretty much best friends, right?"

"No, not pretty much," I said. "We are best friends, plain and simple."

"But that didn't answer my question," she pressed. "Who do you think could have done this?"

"Damn it, Maria," I slightly exploded. "I told you before I don't know." My face instantly fell. What I said—it was a blatant lie. That much was apparent. It burned in my soul to say that. But what really hurt was saying that to Maria. She got real quiet right away. "Maria?" I said cautiously.

She gave no answer.

I tried again. "Maria." Since she still wasn't saying anything, I continued. "Maria, listen. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that. I'm sorry," I repeated.

"It's fine." Her voice was muted, not nearly as peppy as usual. She appeared to just be shrugging it off. "I…I know you didn't mean it. It's okay. You're just upset about Shannon. I get it."

"But I shouldn't have—"

"Jeff," she interrupted. "I told you it was all right. Don't worry about it."

I sighed, deciding not to argue with her. If she said it was fine, I was going to have to take her word for it. Though I was about to say more to her, I couldn't, for a nurse was walking into the waiting room. "Hey, Maria," I said. "I think I gotta go. We might get to see Shannon now."

"Okay," she replied. "Tell him I'm wishing him a speedy recovery, all right?"

"Yep, I will. See ya," I told her.

"Bye, Jeff."

I pressed the end button on my cell phone and stared at the nurse, who was now standing in front of Matt.

"Are y'all Shannon's friends?" she asked, her southern accent really coming through.

The three of us nodded, silent.

"The doctor said that you're allowed to see him now. Just be careful. He's not in such good shape, as you probably guessed. His nose is broken, his right arm is fractured. It ain't pretty."

Matt spoke for us. "Yeah, we figured that."

"Well, just follow me," the nurse began, "and I'll take you to his room."

Before I got up out of my chair, I swallowed hard. I could only imagine how hard I it was going to be looking at Shannon, beaten and battered, because of me.

We followed the nurse's trail back to the second room. Before she opened the door, she reminded us once more to be quiet. "He may be sleeping," she also warned. "And he's in a pretty fragile state, as are his parents." She silently turned the doorknob and the door was open.

There Shannon lay, looking more frail and weak than I had ever seen him. It took my breath away and in the worst way possible. Staring at him, I felt my heart shatter.

His mother was slowly unraveling. Her head was next to his on the pillow and she was on the edge of tears. She had probably cried too much already. I wondered if there could actually be any more tears inside her.

"Mrs. Moore," Matt said, coming up behind her. He rested a hand on her shoulder and whispered, "How is he?"

She looked up at him, moisture springing at her eyes, and said, "Well, I've seen him better." And with that, she had a breakdown.

Sobs emanated from inside, along with more tears than I thought possible to be shed. Her body was literally shaking, she was crying so hard.

Shannon's dad was right beside her, holding his wife, trying to make it all go away.

But this was something that wouldn't just fly away. This was serious. It would last longer than I wished.

Matt, Shane, and I all could only watch on. There was nothing that could be done. Nothing that could be said.

"Mrs. Moore?" Matt said again, this time in a whisper. "Mrs. Moore, is there anything we can do?"

Staring at him, defiance in her eyes, she practically barked, "Find out who did this to my baby."

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I thought to myself but then quickly, my thoughts took on another direction. The same direction they had been in before. I know who it is! If I told her it was Mike, I might wind up worse off than Shannon. If I didn't tell her…Well, I didn't really know for sure what would happen either way.

So, yet again, I kept my mouth shut.

"We don't know who it is," Matt was saying. "But trust me, we will find out." The way he spoke, with such conviction, made my brother sound even more confident than usual.

I, however, didn't have what he had. I was already shaking in my boots. Whether it was from guilt or fear, I didn't know.

I needed help in a bad way.

When it didn't seem like Shannon was going to wake up anytime soon, we left the hospital with an assurance that he would, without a doubt, recover. It was the only comfort we were given that day.

As we drove home, Matt spoke to our dad on his cell phone. "Dad, Shannon's not well." There was a pause. "Yeah, a broken nose and somethin' with his arm." Another bout of silent Matt. "I don't know. If we find out more, we'll definitely tell you. I'll see you at home. Bye." He put his phone in his pocket and was quiet the rest of the way to our house.

Once we got there, I was still feeling jittery. Nothing wakes you up like seeing your best friend after he's been broken and knowing you could have helped.

Shane and Matt occupied the living room when we were home so I holed up in my bedroom with only my thoughts.

How long would it be until Shannon was better? What would school be like without him? What would life be like without him? Would I meet the same fate as him at the hands of Mike? Or would it be worse for me?

The biggest mystery was why was this happening? Mike kept saying it was because of what I had done to Maryse, but I hadn't done anything. She broke up with me. Apparently, that didn't matter. It was still all my fault somehow.

I was feeling sick. Not in the way that I would throw up or anything. But more of a disgust with myself. Everything was my fault, and if it wasn't, people, including myself, had a great way of convincing me that it was.

I needed to get out. Out of that room, out of that house, out of that town, out of that whole entire world. It wasn't my place. Maybe it was at some point but not now.

I picked up my iPod, grabbed my jacket, and stormed out of my room, down the hall.

Sitting on the couch was Matt and Shane, watching some stupid T.V. show. "Where you goin'?" asked my brother.

"Out for a walk," I muttered in response before walking out the door.

As I walked down the street, I pulled my iPod out of my pocket and started scrolling through the list of songs, finally stopping at one I hadn't heard in a long time. I was still moving when the piano and vocals kicked in.

"You follow your feelings, you follow your dreams.

You follow the leader into the trees.

And what out there waiting, neither one of us knows.

You gotta keep one eye opened the further you go.

Well, you never dreamed you'd go down on one knee, but now

Who could've seen you'd be so hard to please somehow.

You feel like a poor boy, a long way from home.

You're just a poor boy, a long way from home.

And it's wake up time.

Time to open up your eyes.

And rise and shine…"

The song continued and I got to thinking that I could relate to it. I was doing so the longer it went on.

I realized that I had to stop turning a blind eye to the world around me. There was going to be pain, there was going to be heartbreak. There would be ups and there would be downs. But that was life. There was no getting around it.

But I could beat it.

Now, with my renewed self-power, I stopped my walk and turned around to head back to my house.

I could get through this. If I truly wanted to, I could overcome it. It might not be tomorrow—hell, it might not be for another ten years—but I would be able to rise above if I put my mind to it.

And I was going to try to put my mind to it.

It was going to be hard, it was going to be difficult but what part of life isn't? I had to find my resolve. I had to shove my fear into a dark corner. I had to find a way to be stronger. For me and for Shannon. I had to do the unthinkable.

I had to rat on Mike.

It was a daunting task, one that would take up all of the courage I could muster. But I was willing to do it. Even if it meant hurting myself soon, it also meant I'd be helping myself in the long run.

I was then walking through our front door, knowing exactly what my plan was.

Once again, my sincerest apologies go out to you all. I know it takes me forever to update but if you, please, bear with me, it'll all work out. Oh, and if you ever get the chance, take my advice and go see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert. It's their song that was used in this chapter. No words describe how fantastic they are live.

Anyway, why don't you tell me what you think in a review? :)