Chapter 403) Disappear

When you’re not here, I disappear
Promise me, you’ll guide me home
Losing my way, tell me to stay
Promise me, you’ll guide me home


Many months had passed since the last time Sophie had seen Stryker in person. He had tried to contact her, relentlessly, but Sophie had ignored it all. Eventually his attempts became less and less, until they seized.

His band’s tour resumed, try as she might, Sophie – and her entire family who meanwhile all knew Stryker as Sophie’s baby daddy – couldn’t escape the hair-raising news stories about him, you name it, he was accused of it. Barely a day went by without him making headlines. Never in a flattering way.

Despite the band’s booming success Stryker just never seemed happy at all, confirmed by footage, sometimes only rumors of hospital stays due to overdoses, alcohol poisoning and such things. It was very obvious looking at him in candid shots that he was spiraling out of control.

All that still hurt Sophie. She had tried to ignore it all, but worried much about him.

Then one night – it was pouring down rain – she was walking out of work, heading to the ferry dock to go pick up her son from her parents’, she saw a new text from Stryker. He hadn’t contacted her in weeks. That was probably the reason she even bothered looking at it at all, rather than just delete it unread like she had been doing before.

His words confused her, they were song lyrics, of the last song they danced to in his apartment, before the break-up.

Him communicating in song wasn’t unusual, Stryker always seemed to have a hard time expressing his true feelings in other ways, so he usually deferred to music to get his emotions across. But it was the next message that chilled Sophie’s blood.

His messages were less than 2 hours old. She dialed him right away, kept calling and calling, while rushing to her brother’s car, praying she still had the spare key on her.

She did and broke every speed limit driving out to San Myshuno. Sophie never drove too fast, except then.

San Myshuno
Stryker's apartment

Luckily, she found parking nearby Stryker’s apartment right away, then rang all doorbells at once till someone buzzed her in. At his place she banged against his door repeatedly for a while, he didn’t open, so she went across to get Drake or Christina to open for her with Stryker’s spare key she knew they had. It was awkward, Sophie barely knew Drake, his fiancé Christina, Sophie’s cousin, wasn’t home to ‘un-weird’ it. Understandably Drake was more than reluctant to just unlock his best friend’s apartment for his ex slash on-again-off-again girlfriend/fiancée.
Eventually he gave in, grabbed the key from some hallway table and went to Stryker’s door, banging several times again, yelling for his best friend.

Finally, he unlocked, Sophie sighed a sigh of relief.

The place was dark, smelled bad, no, it downright reeked. Drake flipped the light on, yelling for Stryker, the living area was empty, as was the bathroom. Drake hurried into the music room. Sophie stared at the bedroom door, was scared of entering for countless reasons. First of all, she hadn’t been invited in. Second of all, what if he was with a girl? Or … what if he … had done something terrible to himself? She really didn’t want to be the one to find him dead. Timidly, she knocked …

No answer. Sophie exhaled, then entered anyway. That room was dark too and still as sparsely decorated as ever; she could see it even in the twilight created by the streetlamps shining their strange light in from outside.

Her heart skipped a beat when she now saw the silhouette of a man sitting on the floor, hunched over, Sophie smelled the stench of alcohol he exuded amidst the already stale air but saw no bottles.

Approaching slowly, she was no expert but could tell he had taken drugs again.

“Stryker …?” she breathed his name, softly and quietly, just as you would at a cemetery.

He moved and a sigh of relief escaped her.

Then the room got bright, blinding her and Stryker, who groaned painfully, Drake approached.

“Oh fuck!” he exclaimed with urgency as he was looking straight at the gun next to Stryker’s leg, which became visible when he moved his arm to shield his eyes from the bright light.

Sophie saw it too and sucked the air in sharply. Oh boy! This just kept getting worse and was way over her head now.

Assertively, Drake went to take the gun from Stryker, who he immediately grabbed it and placed it against his temple, Drake froze in place, eyes wide. Sophie let out a tiny yelp-like scream.

“Shit dude! What are you doing, man! Quit this crap, right now!” Drake shouted.

Stryker didn’t move, only his eyes did.

“Trying to quit … get out, both of you. I want to be alone for this. Like I am always alone when it matters.” Stryker’s voice sounded strange, raspier than usual even and incredibly sad.

“Don’t …please don’t.” Sophie begged.

His eyes focused on her.

“Why? Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t, and I’ll give you ten why I should.” Stryker slurred.

Sophie swallowed. What do you say to a man with a gun to his head who is clearly not in any state of mind except inebriated and depressed. Plus, that gun in his hand made her very nervous and scared her.

“I love you. Spencer loves you. If you don’t care about doing it to me, then don’t do it to him.”

“You don’t love me. You told me so.”

“I never said that!” Sophie argued.

“You said you hated me. In Sulani. And again, at your house. And you won’t give me the time of day since. I can’t fix this. I can’t move on. I can’t get out of my head anymore. So, fuck it all.”

“Well, maybe I do hate you a little for what you put me through. I didn’t deserve that. But I never said I don’t love you. I literally love and hate you.” Sophie chose the honest route. It seemed to work. He lowered the gun, but wasn’t fully convinced.

“I tried to talk to you so many times Sophie. Don’t lie to me now, I know I lost you.”

“Guys … this is some fucked up shit here. I am calling the cops, man. This is too far gone.” Drake said while pulling out his phone.

“Dial that phone and I’ll pull the trigger right now. Don’t try me, man!” Stryker told him unimpressed; Drake froze in mid-movement.

Sophie could tell Stryker meant it, so she rose back up, turned to Drake, stepping closer and whispered.

“Give me a chance to talk to him. Alone. If the cops get involved, not just him, but your band will get seriously bad publicity, I mean, worse than already, that helps no one. I think I can talk him down. Let me try.”

“Sophie – he’s got a goddamn gun! He is so fucking trashed … you can’t talk sense into him now, he can’t process what you are saying, this is too dangerous. For him and for us. I have to get the police involved.” Drake didn’t lower his voice in his excitement, so Stryker threatened

“No cops! If they show up here, I swear I’ll eat that gun right now! BAM! All they can do is scrape the insides of my head off the walls!” Stryker said, and Sophie grabbed Drake’s arm, squeezing hard, looking at him intensely, but Drake shook his head, then told Stryker.

“You’re insane. You’ve completely fried your fucking brain now. I can’t do this anymore, bruh. I love you, man, this shit needs to stop! Blaine warned us after your dumb ass ended up getting your stomach pumped for the umpteenth time last week, said that was the last clean-up he’d have his lawyers do. This – nah. If Blaine finds out about this BS now, we’re all toast! Fuck it all. Kill yourself or don’t. I fucking don’t care anymore!” Drake ranted, clearly at the end of his rope with his best friend, then stormed out.

Stryker looked like an injured dog that had been kicked again and again. Scraping together every inch of courage, Sophie sat down next to him. She could literally watch his tension disappear and see him relax.

“Tell me again that you love me, Soph …” he begged, trying to focus his eyes on hers. When their eyes met, he looked ashamed and lowered his gaze.

“You know I do. I love you, Stryker. Still. I just don’t like you sometimes. Please don’t do this. Please. If you care about me at all, you won’t go through with this nonsense. I need you, and Spencer needs his daddy.”

He swallowed so hard; she could hear it.

“Put away that gun, Stryker. Please. I can’t give you a chance if you are not here anymore.” Sophie tried baiting him with what she knew he wanted to hear.

He seemed to be considering it, but the state he was in was unpredictable. Sophie was afraid he’d still just put the gun to his head, she didn’t know what to do, so she placed her hand over his holding the gun.

“Stryker, let’s just talk about this. You don’t have to do this. Everything can be fixed.” she told him with a soothing, albeit shaky voice.

“Can it? Can we be fixed?” he asked timidly, sounding unlike his usually so confident self.

“Yes. We just both have to try really hard.” Sophie promised.

In a bout of bravery, she pulled on the gun in his hand, trying to take it away from him, but he stopped her, pulled it back, then did something to it that clicked, before letting Sophie pull his hand and gun towards her.

“Safety was off. It’s back on now.” he said plainly.

Something about that gave her a jolt of hope. She tried carefully and he opened his hand and let her have the weapon. She had never held a gun before, it felt strange and heavy, it scared her, as if it might detonate in her hands, she didn’t know what to do with it, so she laid it on the ground and slid it under his bed, exhaling relieved.

Tears just burst out of her as she launched herself into his arms. Stiff at first, as if all lust for life had already left his body, then after a few moments, movement came back into him, he enveloped her, gently at first, then he pulled her tight and buried his head into her shoulder and hair, both of them sobbing now.

‘I am sorry, Soph, so so so sorry. I swear I never meant to be such a fuck-up. I never wanted to hurt you. It kills me that I have. I’ll do better from now on. I’ll try harder. For you. For Spencer.”

“Okay …” she said the first thing that came to mind.

Suddenly, things got loud, the bedroom door flew open with a loud crash, several men filed in the room, armed cops, guns and rifles pointed at Stryker, some roughly pulled a stiff-for-shock Sophie up and away from Stryker, flinging her towards the wall making her shriek scared as she stumbled, was caught by one S.W.A.T. team member who now stepped in front of her shielding her, while others manhandled Stryker. They were very rough with him, Sophie told them to stop, tried to get back to him, but was blocked by that guy in front of her.

“WHERE’S THE GUN?!” some cop demanded from Stryker.

“FUCK YOU!” was all Stryker pressed out, breathlessly.

“Under the bed … ” Sophie quickly answered for him, trying to deescalate this for her completely overwhelming situation. Two cops dove for it instantly.

“Secured!” one yelled.

All Sophie could do was watch Stryker get handcuffed, then get dragged out of the room, she was left standing there without anyone paying her any more mind. Following the last cops exiting Stryker’s bedroom, she met Drake in Stryker’s kitchen. He too looked terrible and like a guilty dog.

“I had to … I didn’t think they’d send a fucking S.W.A.T. Team in! That detective so-and-so said it was policy because you were in there with him and considered a hostage of an armed suicidal man who was under the influence of substances. Apparently, that is some serious threat level shit.” he told her, sounding apologetic.

“Noooo, you didn’t! I was talking him down … he gave me the gun and was listening. I was fixing this. Stryker wouldn’t hurt me! You know that!” she told him, her tone accusatory.

“Do I though? Until some months ago I would have said yes, but now I am not so sure at all. And you think you were fixing it? Fixing Stryker by talking to him and petting his ego? Seriously now?! For how long, Sophie? He keeps getting worse and worse, don’t you see it? I see it. I have known him for a lot longer than you and I am telling you, he is in the Express Lane to hell, the only variable here is how many of us he’ll take with him. I have been watching his decline and I hate what is happening to my best friend. This wasn’t easy for me, and I know he will probably hate me forever for this, thinking I betrayed him, but I needed to protect him from himself. I can’t help him anymore, not with talks or actions. I tried. I came to that conclusion on the last tour leg we just finished. He is giving Nate and me major anxiety with his unpredictable BS. Every time I turn around, he’s in trouble. I’m absolutely exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally … I can’t do it no more. Do you think I wanted to do this to my best friend? I love that asshole, but he needed a wake-up call. This was the only way left for him. I am convinced had I not done this, he’d be dead within weeks, one way or another.” Drake seemed sincere and distraught while talking.

“Okay okay … I get it. What’s gonna happen to him now?”

“I don’t know. I know we both have to go down to the precinct to give and sign our statements of what happened here. Stryker will get locked up, probably for a while now, and maybe that’s what he needs. I don’t know what to tell you, girl. I wanna tell you to run and stay away, but honestly, I have a feeling that’s what caused all this. Not blaming you, I get it, I do. But man, ever since you two broke up this last time, he went off the deep end bad something fierce. He wasn’t always easy to be around before, but the last few weeks put Nate and me and the rest of the crew to the limits. Touring and performing in a new city each night is hard enough, babysitting that guy nearly took the last energy out of all of us. Nate and I have had discussions several times, we’re not sure it’s worth it anymore. If Stryker were a drummer or something, he’d have been out long ago. But it’s his band, can’t kick a front man out. We worked so hard, but Nate and I are about to call it quits. May not have a choice, if Stryker is locked up, we can’t continue the tour without our front man. You do not see him when we are touring, Soph. It’s bad. REALLY bad.”

“Okay, I believe you. I wonder if he’s gonna be all right … they were so rough with him … If they lock him up, he’ll be all alone. Or worse – with some real criminals in the same cell! Oh God!”

“Sophie, they are professionals and kid gloves only go so far with Stryker, you know that. He will tell you anything you want to hear and maybe for the moment he means it, but he is literally out of control. He needs REAL help, more than you or I can give him. Well, I was told to go to the police station to give my report, we can go together if you want, after that, I’ll go home and drink myself to sleep, since my woman is out of town visiting her parents, man, I could sure use Chrissy here right now. Tomorrow I’ll be looking for a job, just in case this was the kiss of death for Stryke 3. Considering we’re supposed to resume the tour end of next week and I don’t know what will happen, but I guarantee you Stryker won’t be able to make it, so Blaine will ride our asses something bad for this. He may have had enough from us then, who knows. Maybe I should call him and tell him about this shit before he finds out another way. And I need to tell my brother what the fuck happened; I am sure Nate saw the blue lights by now.”

Stryker was kept in custody and brought before a judge, who sentenced him to be placed in an in-patient mental facility which had a very strict special rehab program, almost like a prison, with highly regulated schedules. Inmates could not leave, visits were extremely restricted, calls were not allowed initially, the in-mate had to earn them, qualify for it with good behavior.
Stryker would not be released until he finished detox and several mandatory conditions were met at which point his case would be reviewed by a judge and several experts, while his release and any stipulations accompanying it would be decided.

Blaine was not happy, but relatively understanding and supportive and begrudgingly promised to work on postponing the tour until further notice.

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4 thoughts on “Chapter 403) Disappear

  1. I was afraid this might happen. You can’t get much lower than attempting to end your own life so Stryker has hit rock bottom. No where to go but get dead or decide to live.
    I’m glad Sophie got to him before he followed through. Stryker doesn’t really want to die, but he doesn’t see a way forward. She gave him a sliver of hope and he grabbed onto it. He wouldn’t have given her the gun – and put on the safety – otherwise. However, I have no doubt he may have pulled the trigger it if he was alone much longer. Or if Sophie hadn’t responded to his last desperate plea for help. Bless her heart for loving someone so broken. She will be rewarded 20 fold – I hope.

    I’m really sad they are both dealing with all this. It hurts to watch. At least he’s in a serious place that might be able to help him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the writing was on the wall for a while, but with Stryker being such a flamboyant persona, it’s hard to miss what’s just his artistic melodrama and what’s true depression and desperation. He absolutely was serious about his intend.
      Drake, his best friend, tried to help, but just can’t understand what’s happening and Stryker’s irate behavior overwhelmed him. Maybe Sophie is just quietly stronger than most, even though she seems like a shy wallflower most of the time. Somehow, she always seems to know what to say to get Stryker grounded after spiraling. Maybe because she knows how being haunted by anxiety feels.
      Hopefully being stuck in rehab unable to release himself for once will help Stryker.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That was hard to read. Thanks Audrey for penning my thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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