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Chapter Twenty-Four

Jolie got out of the car and staggered toward the apartment, tears blinding the way.

“Don’t push me away, Jo.” Remy came after her. “Don’t write me off just because I can’t give you what you expected.” He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around to face him. “We’re supposed to tell each other the truth. I don’t want that to change, and I don’t want to lose you.” Jolie twisted away, continuing her march toward the apartment. Doggedly, Remy followed.

“You don’t want to lose me? I’m a little confused.” She got to the door, got out her key, and opened the door. “’You kissed ‘me’, Remy Bishop.” She stomped inside. He hesitated, not following her in. “We are not having this conversation in the middle of the apartment complex so all these jerks can have a free show,” she announced. “If you want to talk to me, you’ll have to come inside.” Remy came in and closed the door. “If you’re gay then what was this shit about how you were waiting for me to be ready for a deeper level of commitment?”

Remy sank to the floor hanging his head.

“I wanted that. I wanted to believe that we could have that. My feelings for you are so strong, Jo, that I thought maybe it meant that we had a chance, that maybe I was straight after all, or at least bisexual. I wish to God that I was because my life would be so much simpler, but that’s not how it is.” He looked up at her, his face twisted with despair. “You are my dearest friend in the world, and I don’t want to lie to you.”

Jolie put her hands on either side of her skull and pressed.

“No, it’s so much better that you pull out my bleeding heart.” She flopped down on the carpet beside him. “I’m such an idiot. I thought you wanted ‘me’--that you loved ‘me’, in spite of how I am.” She lay down on her back, tears streaking her glamour shot eye makeup into punk rock war paint.

“I love you, Jolie, just--.”

“Don’t friggin’ say, ‘but not that way’. If you do, I’ll cut off your balls.”

Remy lay back beside her. “I never wanted to hurt you.”

“Well, that worked out well.”

“You say it was important to you that I accepted you the way you are, and loved you anyway. Don’t you see that’s what I’m asking you to do for me now?”

“Yeah, well it sucks.” She had never picked up a stray thought, never seen a glance that gave her a clue-- or had she?

She thought about that night at Rose’s, when Remy and Bodhi had kept vigil beside her. It had been right there in front of her that night. She had just not wanted to recognize it for what it was.

“Okay, so we aren’t going steady or some dumb stereotype like that. So what?” Remy propped himself up on his elbow, looking down at her. “We don’t fit those stereotypes. We never did. We don’t even like them. We laugh at them. The friendship we have goes beyond that,” Remy stated, passionately. “We love each other as human beings. Really caring for someone goes beyond sex, doesn’t it?”

“Maybe when I’m eighty, I’ll be happy with just holding hands, but that’s a long way off. I’m still young, Remy. I want someone to love me in every way possible.”

“And I want that, too,” he agreed. “And it will happen, for us. It’s just not going to happen for us with each other.”

With her hormones settled down, Jolie realized that it was probably a good thing that Remy had stopped her from adding one more problem to her already complicated life, but seeing the humor in their situation was still a few years off.

“I’ll be there, Jo,” Remy promised, reaching out and taking her hand. “I’ll be right there beside you commiserating over all your relationships: the good, the bad, and the ugly, because what we have is beyond some fleeting teenage romance.”

“Ouch.” Jolie winced. “That’s what you thought of us? That’s flattering.” She wondered how long Remy had known about himself. Had he been using her to look straight to kids at school, or was this revelation something he was just discovering, something he was not sure about yet? She turned her head and looked at Remy’s face and knew that her friend would never have purposely toyed with her feelings. He had wished things could be different too, but they weren’t. He was just being honest. They lay on the carpet, staring up at the ceiling.

“You’ve thought about this, haven’t you, Rem?” Jolie asked, quietly. “I mean, I know it’s better than it used to be for gay people, but it’s still hard. There’s so much prejudice.”

“Yeah, a gay Native American dude: I’ll be on the unwanted list of most of white America.”

“But not your people?”

“It’s different with them.”

Jolie thought about that, remembering seeing Rose and Hoke’s spirits in the lodge before the wipe down. They had only had one flame, while Remy and Bodhi had two.

“You have two spirits. That’s why Hoke is teaching you, and why Rose and Sifu put so much store in your abilities, right?” Remy nodded. “I saw it that night in the wipe down. You were so beautiful. Rose even said something to me about it, but I didn’t understand.”

“In my world, those who are two spirited are not outcasts. Instead, we’re recognized as people of unusual power and abilities.”

“Because you have both a male and female spirit?”

“Yes. The belief is; we understand things differently. Hoke knew about me, of course, from when I was born, because he could ‘see’ my two spirit lights. That’s why he fought dad so hard to raise me in the Native world, but Dad was sure that he could give me a better life.”

Jolie didn’t want to say how much Remy’s father would regret that decision if she was unable to save his son.

“So Hoke just hung around all these years while you were growing up?” she asked, instead.

“He jumped in and out of my life, teaching me in bits and pieces, showing me things when he thought I was ready, always hoping that one day I would accept my heritage, and step up.”

“And you’re doing that.” She squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry I was so selfish. I was thinking of me and what I wanted when I should have been thinking about how hard it was for you to come out to me. It’s a big deal that you trusted me enough to tell me. I know that.”

“Sometimes you just love someone, and you can’t help it. I love you, Jolie Figg.”

“Right, but not ‘that’ way.” Jolie’s lips trembled. She knew it was silly, Remy had not rejected her, but she still felt the loss of the closeness that she had hoped would be hers. Remy seemed to sense this.

“It was wrong for us, Jo. Lying to you and pretending would only have made it hurt more, later.”

Jolie’s heart twisted. She took Remy in her arms and stroked his hair.

“You’re too good, Remy. I usually really love that about you, but right now, it just kind of sucks.” She pulled away, wiping her eyes. “At least now, I know why Bodhi is so jealous.”

“You don’t hate me?” Remy asked

“People like us don’t find other people like us very often,” Jolie said, putting a big emoticon smile on her face to mask her broken heart.

Remy nodded. “Lovers will come and go, but we’ll always have each other.” Remy took her face in his hands and kissed her on the forehead.

As long as I can keep you alive, Jolie thought.

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