“Okay so,” Anduin’s brow furrowed as he adjusted his leg, sitting on the curb of the sidewalk. “Promise me you won’t freak out.” He cringed when he heard an audible anxious huff come from the other side of the line. He knew that his dad was on his way to the school already, and he was just sitting there with his bruised and bleeding legs, paired with scuffed knees and dust generally everywhere on him.
His practice had ended at a later time than usual due to the championship only being about three weeks away, so it was nearing seven-thirty and the sun was beginning to fall under the horizon. Dad used his longer practices as an excuse to stay a bit later in the office rather than leaving around four as he usually did.
“Why would I freak out?” A concerned reply finally came through. Anduin could hear a bit of wind before it cut out. He must have closed the window or something. He sighed and leaned backward on his bag, the biology textbook he’d taken out just before deciding to call his dad leaning against his partly-covered thigh.
“I just got a little beat up during practice today, that’s all.”
“How bad?” Was the immediate reply, and Anduin felt a small smile creep across his face.
“Well, we ran so late that our athletic trainer wasn’t at the school, so her office was locked and we couldn’t get at any of the meds in her office. Usually, she would leave Coach a key, but I guess she’s been forgetting lately,” he thought back and gnawed distractedly on his lip, “I think Allison said she got engaged, and that’s why she’s been so distracted lately.” Allison had said that to him while trying to find something to patch his knee with. She was one of the school’s health teachers. She had to stay late to grade papers, saying she could never get it done at home because of her three sons.
“Are you bleeding?” He asked as a slight shift in volume increased as he tilted the phone.
“Only a little,” He rubbed his finger across the scrape, smearing the tiny specks of blood across his skin, fading to an orange color against his knee. “It just hurts a lot, and I don’t think I can hold myself up,” He frowned as a heavy sigh came over the line and looked up, past the school’s baseball field toward the road. “I’m sitting right across the baseball field, by the way.”
“I’m coming up to the turn in now. See you in a second.”
He hung up before Anduin could respond, and his shoulders slumped as he stared down at the ended call screen with the silly contact photo Anduin took last summer on his derailed trip in southeast Asia.
He saw the shiny headlights of his dad’s old, ancient Ford F-150. A twenty-seventeen model. Thirty years, practically a relic. It’s not like they were struggling for money, and Anduin knew he was eyeing the thirty-nine Silverado. He was just sentimental with it because it was Grandpa’s truck, and Anduin liked it- he did, but… he didn’t want to think about breaking down on the highway thirty minutes before a game. Again.
The crunch of gravel over the pavement and the squeaky brake-pads brought the truck to a halt. He heard the click of the shift put it into park, and Dad practically stumbled out of the car. He left the drivers door open, hearing the high pitched ding ding ding ring out annoyingly.
“This looks… not very pretty, kiddo.” His breath was shakier than it was over the phone.
“You promised me you wouldn’t freak out.” Anduin stressed, hissing as Dad poked and prodded at his abused legs.
“I’m not freaking out, I’m just concerned,” He said defensively. Dad moved down his leg with feather-light touches, skimming swollen bruises and a few gym-floor burns that his guards couldn’t protect. The knee-guards were stuffed in the back of his bag, a little bloodied. “What’s wrong with your ankle?” Anduin sucked in a breath as he tugged back his sock a little, and grimaced.
“I think I twisted it.”
“We have an hour and fifteen-minute ride home. Do you want to stop at the clinic?”
“I… I don’t know, I’d rather go home.” Dad sighed and reached behind Anduin to pluck his schoolbag up and shove his textbook back in there, putting it just below the lip of the curb.
“I have some acetaminophen in the car, I’ll give you some.” He rolled back his sleeves and knelt close beside Anduin, brushing his hair back and looking for any other injuries.
“There’s some in my bag, remember? We filled out a whole form for the nurse to take just so I could take pain meds at school.” He leaned into his dad’s hand and turned his nose into his palm when he thumbed a light bruise across his cheek.
“Save those for school. This is just for now, okay?” Anduin nodded in reply and winced when his strong arms slid under the crook of his knees and his slim shoulders. Anduin leaned over the open the passengers' side door, and he was put down quite hastily. He winced as he jostled his injuries and closed the door just as Dad put his bag in the back, but handed him his near-empty water bottle.
He settled into the driver's seat and dug in the middle console for a small bottle with a red label that read ‘acetaminophen’.
“When did you last eat?”
“Um… I had that protein bar Wyll packed for me after practice.” Seconds later he dropped the two pills into his hand and Anduin swallowed them quickly after. The thrum of the engine was soothing to his ears as he leaned over to turn up the volume on the radio, slipping his eyes shut as he leaned back in his seat and decided to nap the hour drive away.