"I didn't mean it," Aaron sobbed, pacing the floor of the stable. The lanky teenager held his head in his hands, fingers going through his hair frantically. "I didn't, I didn't mean it, I- oh my god, I just--"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Aaron. Slow down. What happened?" Luis asked, the Mexican ranch boss sitting the kid down on a bale of hay.
Aaron sat hunched over as Luis knelt before one of his 'problem kids'. A sort of queasiness made its way into his gut as he tried not to think of what it was Aaron felt so guilty over. He'd already had two strikes on his record. A third - while in a care home - would put him in the chamber. There was no coming back from that. He'd experienced it firsthand.
"Mads and the gang - you know, Nickols - they were, they wanted me to come with 'em to... to just hang out, but then they asked me to drive 'em to this house, 'a friend', and it wasn't, wasn't their friend's house. I don't know, I just heard this little old lady scream, and I ripped the door off its hinges. Madison was stuffing things into a bag and Vin had the old lady against a couch. So I punched Mads."
Luis tried not to show his panic, but he did take a sharp breath.
"Where? Head? Shoulders? Chest?"
God, don't be the head or chest. The last thing we need is a kid on for homicide through metahuman enhancement.
"I... I think I broke his back. Couple ribs. I got him in the side. I-I held back, but I.... I'm so sorry, Lu, I am, I just, I got so mad. I couldn't hold it together, dude. They were robbing her blind, and the other two - Gordy, Raf - they knew about it. They wanted me there as muscle, and I fell for it," Aaron spluttered, holding his face in his hands.
Luis took Aaron into his arms as the kid started to sob hard into his shoulder.
"Hey, hey, it'll be okay. You hear me? I'll work something out, I will," Lu promised as Aaron hugged Lu back.
"Are they-are they gonna send me in? Will they put down another strike?" Aaron asked. "Did this ever happen with anyone else?"
Lu tried not to think about that.
"Come on. Let's head back to the house. You need some sleep, and I gotta call the police."