He gently knocked on Noah's bedroom door.
No reply, so he knocked again.
He should just tell Sarah, she had known Noah much longer than he had and had a closer relationship with him. Everyone knew that. Sarah had to rest, she didn't need any stress at the moment, for the sake of their baby.
"Noah, please open up."
Getting no answer, once again, he carefully opened the door. Immediately he heard Noah get onto his bed.
"Sorry." Richie said as he walked in.
Noah sat on his bed, sheets pulled up high and holding a pillow closely to his chest.
"What's wrong?" Richie asked, genuinly worried about what he had seen.
"Nothing." Noah answered but his lie didn't sound convincing.
"Right, because the bruises I just saw are nothing. Please tell me what happened."
He was met by silence. Knowing how Sarah used to have trouble with trusting him and telling him stories of her past, he didn't want Noah to hide away. Things needed to be said and fixed.
Richie moved over to the bed and sat down on the end of it, facing Noah.
"Those two kids that wanted to hang out with you during the game, weren't your friends, were they?"
Noah shook his head.
Richie sighed, realizing the mistake they had made earlier that night. "I'm sorry."
A quiet moment, made Noah feel even more tense.
"How long have they been bullying you? Why didn't you talk to us so we could help fix this?" He didn't understand how they had missed this going on in their son's life. "You should have told us. I gotta phone the school and talk about this."
"No." Noah said immediately.
"Why not? Those guys deserve to be expelled. School is for learning, not to beat up other students. I thought a private school would protect you guys a little more and prepare you for real life. There's always going to be assholes in real life but you don't let them just do this to you. You're my son, I can't let them do that to you."
Noah merely shrugged, not feeling the same way about the whole situation.
Richie moved closer on the bed, making sure he held Noah's eyes. "No one can do this to you. No one should make you feel like they can do this to you."
Richie sighed and got up from the bed.
"Please don't tell mom." Noah said quickly.
He sighed again, the thought of Sarah having to rest still in his mind but how could he not tell his wife what was going on with her son? "I'll be right back."
"Please don't tell her." Noah repeated. "I don't want to disappoint her."
On his way downstairs Richie tried to think of what that had meant. How could he ever disappoint his mother?
Back in the bedroom, he gave Noah an ice pack and sat down on the bed.
"How would you ever disappoint your mother? Or me?"
Noah shrugged, realizing how much that hurt him, He did as Richie suggested and held the ice to his ribs. "Ava and Caleb are different, I know they are. They have friends and they hang out and have fun. I don't do that."
"You don't have friends?"
"Not really. Some online. Maybe I like one or two people at school."
"The amount of friends you have isn't going to make a difference in anything. You're a great person. You're incredibly smart, very sweet to your little brother, you always know how to help out. Maybe not the most social person, but a great person." Richie sighed again, collecting a little bit of courage. "That's why I never want you to cut yourself again."
Noah's face froze.
"You think I missed those cuts on your ankles? I know bullies and I'm pretty sure they didn't grab a razor in the shower and cut your ankles."
"Don't tell mom." Noah repeated again.
"I won't." Richie agreed, "But I'm serious, I never want you to do that again, it doesn't solve anything. Hurting yourself isn't a way to deal with how people hurt you and how hurt you feel. There's how many doors in this house?"
"Thirty-six." Noah interrupted.
Richie frowned but continued. "Okay, Thirty-six doors, that's thirty-six doors that you can slam with anger, hit something, break something or tear something apart but never harm yourself. You're too important for that. You have to believe that." Ending the conversations, he paused and took a deep breath. He had never expected he had to have that kind of talk with any of his children in his life but there they were. "Take some painkillers for the pain, keep the ice on and I will talk to the principal at school."
He wished Noah good night and hoped to God that their conversation would have an impact on Noah. He couldn't believe what had happened tonight. How could Noah think he'd disapoint them? They were both very proud of him.
Quietly he checked on Daniel, sound asleep. Suddenly the thought of, little children, little problems and big children, big problems popped into his mind. They've had little problems with their little child and now how big problems with their big child. He loved all four of them as much as the other, and soon to be five.
Across, the hallway, he walked in his own bedroom and joined Sarah in bed.
"Everything okay?" She asked as she snuggled up to him.
"Yeah." Richie smiled down at her and kissed her gently.