years & years (2) - m.dl.c x reader // j.a x reader
Summary: junior year sets in motion a chain of events that changes the lives of liberty high students, forever.
Warnings: mentions of a car crash, mentions of suicide, attempted suicide, blood, scars.
A/N: so this turned out longer than i intended so that’s why i ended it where i did. should i continue it or leave it as it is? anyway, this isn’t edited or anything, so i hope it’s okay!
you’re sixteen, and the first party of your junior year is the catalyst for the end of the world as you knew it. a beer run goes wrong when a car doesn’t stop where it’s supposed to, ramming straight into the car you’re travelling in with jeff. around your feet are glass bottles that shatter upon impact, cutting through your cheap canvas runners and digging in to your skin. you don’t feel it, though, because the jolt of the car sends you forward sharply, your forehead meeting the dashboard with a thunk. it knocks you out, for a few minutes, and when you come around, there’s a far worse pain waiting in the seat beside you.
a week in hospital helps the cuts on your ankles and feet scab over and heal, but no amount of time could even begin to touch the edges of the hole in your chest, in the wake of jeff’s death. the paramedics called it immediately upon arriving at the scene, your screams echoing down the street filled with passersby and flashing lights. clay had found the wreck, and you can’t erase the wretched cries he’d let out, begging jeff to hold on. the funeral is, of course, a large affair - it seems almost the entire school turns out to bid farewell to the best baseball player the town had the honour of having. in your black jeans, black shirt, black jacket, all you can focus on is the warmth of mrs. atkin’s hand in yours, gripping it tight. the students stare, pity in their gaze, unsure words of condolences whispered hurriedly as they pass you by. it only makes you feel worse.
back in school, however, another shocking blow lands only days after returning to liberty high’s hallways - hannah baker takes her own life, and leaves behind a world of pain and mystery. as if you couldn’t be more unbalanced, it feels as though the entire world has spun off it’s axis, disturbing the gravity, making it impossible to ground yourself. unlike jeff’s funeral, hannah’s is private, family only. clay is a hollow shell of the boy you grew up knowing, having lost a best friend and his crush in less than a month. when a group of jocks pass you by, clad in varsity jackets exactly like the one hanging in your wardrobe at home, the pressure hits breaking point, and you find yourself sobbing viciously beneath the bleachers outside - with no memory of how you got there. after what could be hours or simply minutes, a strong arm pulls you into a solid, warm chest, cradling you while the sobs wrack your entire body. montgomery de la cruz, a boy you haven’t spoken to in over a year, says nothing, does nothing, except hold you while you cry. for the first time since that awful night, you don’t feel so alone anymore.
after that day under the bleachers, montgomery is sure to check in with you a few times a day. the conversation never stretches beyond quick greetings, but you know that if you need someone, he’ll be there - and that’s what you need. unbeknownst to the both of you, a series of tapes is circulating a group of people you both know, left by hannah before her death. everyone begins to act strange; clay is distant and even more lost than usual, sheri can’t seem to meet your eyes anymore, alex wanders around the hallway like a dark cloud, ominous, foreboding. he purposefully picks fights with montgomery - you don’t know the reason why, nor does montgomery, but alex does. when you try to speak the bleach blond boy, he seems to be just out of your reach, like everything else, these days. even tony, your lifelong best friend is never around. jessica davis takes on the part of hedonist, drinking through school and skipping out on cheer practice. she makes scenes in public with justin and then storms off - and justin is just as far away as everybody else. like the earlier analogy of the world spinning off it’s axis, it screws with the entire system. you’re no longer in each others orbits, all communications systems failing.
the third blow hits you before that same month is up. a text message goes unseen for almost half an hour, and it’s long enough for it to be too late. the message has you sprinting barefoot across town, wearing only pyjama shorts and a tank top, headed for alex standall’s house. the blood reminds you of jeff’s body in the car, and you can barely hold back the screaming long enough to call an ambulance. it’s a long night, sitting in silence side by side with alex’s father. the man’s face is expressionless, but his eyes shine with tears he refuses to let fall. at some point, when the waiting and agonising fear becomes too much, you let your hand land on his. after a few seconds, he responds with a grateful squeeze, blinking hard. your throat is burning from the screaming, raw and painful, your bare feet like blocks of ice on the linoleum floor. the night passes.
it’s a relief to get to school on monday and realise that news of alex’s … indiscretion hasn’t yet made the rounds, but it’s not too long before it reaches the hallways. clay stops you before class to ask if you’re okay.
his expression tells you all that needs saying, and you’re sure your own does, too. you let him talk to you into meeting at monet’s after school. home is too suffocating - with jeff, and hannah baker, and now alex, your parents have taken to hovering, constantly, around you. it’s sweet, and you appreciate the concern, but it doesn’t help the feeling that you don’t know how to breathe anymore. sitting around a back table with tony and clay is the most normal thing you’ve done in weeks. clay is as nervous and awkward as always, tony providing a steady contrast, confident and sure, but there’s a difference to the two of them you can’t quite explain. skye brings your drinks down; coffee for you and clay, hot chocolate for tony.
‘is it true about alex standall?’ the tattooed barista wants to know. clay spares you a glance, before nodding. skye scoffs and rolls her lined eyes. 'one girl offs herself and the rest follow like dominoes,’ she says, voice dripping with disgust. 'still, we see who the real attention seekers are, right?’
neither clay nor tony answer her; looking at each other, a silent conversation. you, however, look up at the blonde, and, rather quietly, ask her,
'can you shut the fuck up?’
she blinks. 'what? you weren’t even friends with hannah.’ 'no. but i am friends with alex. don’t be so ignorant.’
her eyes flash with indignation. 'i’m being honest, not ignorant.’
'no, you’re being disrespectful.’ underneath the table, your fists clench. 'look, i know that you’re hurting over jeff, so i-’
your head snaps up. you can barely hear yourself talking over the blood rushing through your ears. 'what did you just say?’
clay decides to step in. 'skye, maybe you should just drop it,’ his voice is low. the barista rolls her eyes again, and if she does it one more time-
'i’ll be at the counter if you need anything.’ she leaves. tony leans over to speak to you, but his words fall flat and unheard. standing up abruptly, you reach into your backpack for your wallet.
'c'mon, don’t go,’ clay pleads, tony noting the shake in your hands as you fumble for a few dollar bills. 'i can pay,’ the boy offers, concerned. you shake your head, dropping the notes on the counter. 'i’ll see you in school tomorrow,’ you mutter, gripping your bag in both hands and rushing out of café as fast as you could. speed-walking down the street, you breathe in and out slow, trying to calm your pounding heart, and the rage like a fire burning through your veins. skye’s words echo in your head - attention-seekers, attention-seekers - blinded by your emotion, you collide with a hard body, the two of you snapping 'watch it!’ in unison.
it’s montgomery, and when he sees it’s you, the tense set of his broad shoulders relax. 'oh, hey. are you okay?’ as his eyes search your face, you find yourself breaking. stepping closer to him, in an effort to keep your voice at a normal volume, you admit, 'i get it now. i get you now. i never understood… you’ve been so angry, for so long, and i never got it. but… but i get it now. i’m so mad, monty. i’m so mad, all the time, and i - i don’t want to - i can’t - i don’t know what to do.’
his entire face softens, his features kinder than you’ve ever seen them. after taking a moment to register your words, he swallows, and then reaches for your elbow.
'come with me.’
as he begins to urge you forward, all he says is, 'just come with me.’ so you do. you follow where he leads, his hand an anchor to reality. as you walk with him to god-knows-where, you realise there’s only one thing you’re certain of.
montgomery de la cruz could walk you off the edge of the earth, and you’d follow, without hesitation.