+ What's on: Home, by Daughtry
#5 - AARON MICHAEL MINYARD, BACKLINER
November 4, Scorpio
Aaron is a difficult person to talk about considering his role in the upcoming book. There's not much I can say about who he is now without digging too deep into what's coming, and little reason to discuss where he's from considering how much of his past Nicky gave up in Raven King. That leaves us with what-ifs and the sparsest entry in our countdown.
Originally, Andrew and Aaron were inseparable. For years their obsessive devotion to each other made them a reliable cornerstone for the Foxes story to wrap around. Their brotherly love was partly destroyed by the evolution of Andrew's character--the more of Andrew I took away, the less room there was for Aaron--and mostly doomed by their destructive mother.
In the beginning Aaron was the protector, presenting himself as the target instead of his terminally ill twin brother. Toward the middle he was the betrayer, taking his mother's side and willfully writing Andrew out of his life. With this last draft the entirety of the blame has passed back to Tilda, but Andrew & Aaron are too broken by now to fit neatly back together again.
Cut scene from book 3, cleaned up of any potential spoilers (maybe). Matt's mother Randy came into town to watch a game, and the cousins (and Neil) finally got a chance to meet her. The scene got yanked when I decided to send Andrew's lot to NYC at the end of Raven King--this conversation needed to happen the first time they met Randy, and that edit meant they met her off-screen in December.
It took Aaron most of Thursday afternoon to work up the courage, but he finally approached Randy at the end of practice to thank her for paying his bail. Neil was in charge of the stick rack and ball buckets today, but he deliberately slowed down his work to eavesdrop. Aaron's gratitude was the stilted mess of a man not used to admitting when he was wrong.
Randy looked a bit baffled, then recovered enough to stress, "You gave me back my son. Do you understand? There is nothing I can do to make that up to you."
Aaron was honest enough to say, "That wasn't my decision."
Randy reached for him, but Aaron flinched at the first brush of her fingers against his shoulders. Aaron recovered quickly, but the damage was already done. Randy's smile vanished and the look she gave Aaron was heavy enough to make Neil uncomfortable ten feet away.
Last summer Neil had recoiled from Wymack much the same way, so certain of being hurt for his transgressions and stupidity. For months his stomach had knotted a bit every time Wymack raised his voice at practice. Even as recently as January Neil willfully told himself Wymack's concern was anger because fear of older men was a powerful enough motivator to get Neil through his second thoughts and nightmares.
Only now did Neil understand that a person could fear an older woman the same way. Neil's mother had hit him and screamed at him, but she'd always been on his side. She'd always been his mother first. He'd known Aaron's mother was abusive, had heard it from Nicky and had it affirmed by Andrew back in November. He'd thrown it in Aaron's face knowing it would hurt, but somehow he'd still always thought it a different matter. Neil couldn't imagine a world where mothers weren't actually mothers.
Neil finally understood, though he didn't know if it was stupidity or prejudice that had blinded him this long. Cass Spear could have been Andrew's mother once. These days Andrew leaned on Betsy Dobson. Aaron, on the other hand, never had anyone to fill that role. Aaron wouldn't let the Foxes in because of Andrew, but he couldn't let Nicky in because he didn't know how. He'd gotten this far in life on his own, surviving on willpower and sheer desperation.
For a moment Neil thought Randy would take offense at Aaron's reaction and walk away. Instead she slowly raised her hands to Aaron's face and cradled his cheeks in her hands.
"Hey," she said, more subdued than she'd sounded all day but somehow still hard with conviction. "I'm so proud of you. Do you hear me? I'm so proud of you. You did what you had to do to defend your family, and tomorrow you're going to do whatever it takes to defend our family. Okay? It's going to be okay."
Aaron stared back at her, silent and frozen. Randy nodded at whatever she saw on his face and made a slow attempt at hugging him. Aaron didn't fight her off, and Randy held on until Aaron finally relaxed.