I'm Here to Fix You

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Chapter 23

JAKE

The next ten minutes went by in silence, not even her sobs could be heard, but I knew she was still crying, the wetness of my shirt was proof. I wonder if Tess noticed and decided to just leave us here or what. I squeezed Silvia into me as much as I could, my heart clenching at her every tear.

If this is Ryan she’s crying for, this time nobody’s gonna save him. I’m capable of flying straight to Aspen and fuck him up for good, I swear.

She gripped me tightly, as if trying to use me as a pillow or human-sized tissue, I don’t know. She didn’t hiccup, nor did she sob, she didn’t emit a single sound, but the fact is, she didn’t seem able to cease crying, and I had no idea how to help. I’m not good with women crying. I’ve only ever comforted Serene and Olivia, and it wasn’t exactly easy.

I rubbed Silvia’s scalp, in an attempt at soothing her, but I felt powerless. Completely and utterly powerless. She was breaking down, and I had no idea how to stop it. All of that I’m here to fix you, all that crap about how I’ll help her, yet look at me, I can’t even help her through her breakdown, imagine the rest.

Story of my life. I keep saying I’ll protect the people I love, yet I never can. I’m always so pathetically powerless. What’s the point in loving if you can’t even protect and soothe the woman you’re in love with? What’s the point of all these feelings if you can’t even keep her from hurting?

I tried rubbing her back as well as her scalp, I tried squeezing her into me, never denying the embrace she seemed to crave so adamantly, but what else could I do?

When her grip on me began faltering, I worried, because she hadn’t ceased crying, but she was letting go. Was she feeling sick maybe? This goddamn closet barely gave us space to breathe.

“Silvia ...?” I called in a whisper, unsure what to do. What the hell do I do? Do I break down the door and get her out of here? Or do I wait until she says something? I was this close to freaking out.

Slowly, she seemed to be pulling back, until her arms were no more around me, and I couldn’t feel her body against me anymore. I cursed darkness, because I couldn’t see her face. “Thank you.” Silvia murmured weakly, her voice still broken. “I ... needed that.”

Needed what? I did nothing, damnit. I could have done so much more, but I stood there like a twig, unable to speak a sole word. What the fuck is wrong with me? You don’t just stand there watching while the love of your life is crying her heart out on your shirt. You say something, anything, that could soothe her. I’m such a stupid idiot.

I flinched when I felt her shaky hand over my chest, at level with my heart. “I ...” her voice broke down again, “... I would appreciate if ... if we didn’t ... speak of this again ...”

“Is it about Ryan?” Oh, sure. You stand there 10 minutes without saying a goddamn word, and the first ones you say are the dumbest you could have ever voiced. So clever, really.

Silvia inhaled a shaky breath. “No ...”

“You sure?” I’ll kick his ass for you, I’d have added, but if there’s need to kick some ass, I’m pretty sure she can do it on her own.

“It’s ... Ryan doesn’t have anything to do with this.”

Like that’s gonna stop me from punching the hell out of him the first time I see him. You don’t fucking leave your girlfriend alone on New Year’s Eve. Especially not when she’s going through a tough period. If you do such shit, then you do not deserve to wake up next to her.

I said he’s a keeper, but maybe I was totally wrong. Maybe he’s just the umpteenth dumbass that has no idea how to take care of his woman. Moron. If you pick a girl like Silvia, you also gotta be up for everything. She’s high maintenance, and not in the material term. Any girl requires love and maybe gifts, tenderness and romance, but this one ... this one requires a lot more effort. Something Sir Douche there maybe isn’t able to give.

Silvia heaved one more deep sigh, and I felt her head over my chest, lain there as if it were too heavy for her to keep it up. All those tears worn her out, no doubt. “Sometimes even I need a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for being that, Jake.”

But you’ll have to tell me what did you cry over, though, damnit. I rubbed her back, dumbfounded. “Told you, I’m here whenever you need ...” Here to be useless, of fucking course, since it seems I’m no good, even at comforting her.

Silvia seemed to be attempting a smile, though I can’t be sure, given that I couldn’t see her. Her arms slid around my torso again, but this time she seemed somewhat calmer. “It’s odd, you know ...” she murmured “...you’re the only one person I let myself be fragile with, yet you’re not supposed to be in my life anymore.”

It means nothing, Jake. Nothing. Don’t think too much of it. Don’t. Just because she lets herself be fragile with me and just me, doesn’t mean she’d pick me over Sir Douche. She’ll still pick him, which is a holy decision, right? And ... screw it. She needs me.

Silvia Banchi, the most badass woman I’ve ever met in my entire life just admitted I’m the sole being on this Earth that can make her lower her guard. How can I not let it go to my head? How can I not hope? Hope is a tease designed to prevent us accepting reality. It’s a quote from a show Serene had me watch, but it seems ever so accurate now.

I keep hoping and hoping, against my better judgment, against my own will. I keep hoping one day Silvia will wake up and realize she’s been wrong all along, that I’m the man for her, not him. And I’m so selfish for this.

I keep hoping even though I should have given up on us so long ago. I keep on longing for her even though I shouldn’t even think of her. I keep on watching her from afar, crave to contact her, even though I should have probably deleted even her number. I keep on making up excuses to call her to my office, then I change my mind. I just ... why is it so hard to just rest my mind and heart at peace?

I’m not good with peace, neither with forgetting the past. Hell, if I was any good at moving on, I would have lived a totally different life. But ... Silvia. When Olivia and I parted ways, it didn’t hurt this much. When we became strangers to each other, I felt bad, I missed her, but ... it was never like this.

She sniffled, nuzzling my chest, but when she spoke, tears seemed to be swallowing her voice once again: “I’m sorry.”

No, don’t be. It’s fine. Argh, damnit, why can’t I speak up? My heart was trembling, that’s why. I ... I had no idea what to do or say, I felt ... I felt insecure. Powerless. Her tears worn her out, but they also drained me out. I just ... I was never ready to see her cry. I was never ready to see her so fragile, limp in my arms, as if she’d got nothing else but me to hold on to.

I fell in love with a strong, badass woman that hides deep secrets, but I was never ready to see the weak side of her. One thing is to hear her feeble voice on the phone late at night, a whole different one is to stand there, silent, while she cries her heart out on my chest.

I felt weak. There’s nothing worse than to stand there, powerless, while the woman you love breaks down. It rips your heart to pieces, every single one of her tears is a piece of your soul that’s being torn apart, every single one of her sobs cuts you into a million pieces.

You see her trapped inside her own head, and you keep repeating ‘I’m here for you, I won’t let you drown’, yet when the moment comes to actually keep her from drowning, you’re useless, worthless, powerless.

You think and say you’ll do anything, anything to relieve her. You’ll go to Hell back, you’ll cross oceans, fight storms for her. anything, anything to make her stop hurting, to make her go back to the strong woman you fell for, yet when the day of reckoning comes, you realize just how much of a liar you’ve been, because there’s nothing, nothing you can do to help.

They say love hurts, but it’ll never hurt as much as watching someone you love suffer does. It’s not regular pain, it’s a kind of pain no human heart could ever bear. It takes everything out of you. You’re so distraught over their suffering that you actually feel it affects you physically. It makes you feel sick to your gut and worn out, drained of your strength, as if life has just been sucked out of you.

You don’t understand the concept of wanting to take someone’s pain on your own shoulders until you actually watch the woman you love suffer. It hurts you more than you could have ever expected. Her pain, her sorrow echoes inside of you, it tears down your own heart, it rips your soul to shreds.

I’ve spent my life feeling powerless as I watched the people I loved suffer, but this one ... this one surpasses everything. I felt empty and hollow, as if I were nothing more than a worthless shell left there for show.

How is it even possible to feel this connected to another soul? How is it possible to love someone enough to even feel her own pain, to hurt when she hurts? How can you be this intertwined with someone else’s? How can your own not just emotional, but also psychological and somewhat physical health be this dependent on someone else’s wellbeing?

The hardest part of watching someone you love suffer is that it makes you realize just how helpless love can make you feel. Love is weakness. Love doesn’t conquer all, love kills you deeper than the most powerful weapon. Love takes away your ever certainty, and leave you with nothing else but feelings. Feelings that shred you to smithereens the moment you stand there watching her suffer.

Love is weakness because when you love as deeply as ... unconditionally as I do, even the sole idea of her experiencing any kind of suffering makes you feel nauseous. The idea of her experiencing pain tears your heart out. You’d be ready to do anything or take on anything if it means that she could be free from whatever pain she’s experiencing, but at the same time you’re reminded you can’t, and it kills your soul.

My mother used to say, “the deeper the love, the deeper the pain.” I never realized what she meant until now. I’ve suffered before, my whole life has been paved in sorrow, but this ... the more Silvia cried, the deeper into the abyss my soul sank.

Silvia kept relenting and tightening her grip at intervals, she simply wasn’t able to end her tears, and I wished to be able to dry them all for her, but I couldn’t. I fucking couldn’t.

“I’m sorry.” She repeated in a disconnected murmur. “I ... I-I’m wasting your night, you ... I ...”

I squeezed her into me, closing my eyes to set aside the sharp ache to my heart. “Don’t even say it.”

“Jake ...”

“I’m here.” I whispered. “I’ll always be here for you. Whatever it is.” But I’m useless, so totally, completely, utterly useless. All I could do was embrace her, but it wasn’t enough, it would never be enough. What fucking sense does love have if you can’t even relieve your complementary half?

Silvia heaved a shaky sigh, her face hidden in my chest. It was probably midnight already, but who the hell cared. “I should ... I should probably let you go.”

Always so goddamn proud. “I can stay here all night.”

“Jake ...”

“I mean it. I probably won’t feel my legs anymore tomorrow, though.”

She let herself chuckle the slightest, just a little, as she nuzzled my chest. “You’re always such a jerk ...”

I half smiled, kissing her temple. At least I was able to distract her for a moment. I wonder what’s this all about, though. Can Ryan seriously cause her such pain? Or is it something else?

We spent a few minutes in silence. Since I didn’t feel my shirt any wetter, I presumed she’d ceased crying once and for all, but she didn’t leave my arms. Is it pathetically cliché if I say I wish time could stop right now?

“Feel better?” I asked in a murmur after a while.

Silvia took a deep breath and moved slightly back. “A little, thanks.” Her hands rested over my hips when I caressed her cheek, leaning in, enough for my forehead to touch hers. I felt void and dizzy, and somehow I think she felt the same, that’s why her forehead pressed against mine, as if she were seeking strength to keep herself up. It can’t be just Ryan. There’s more, much more to her story. Something she’s never told. That’s what binds us. We’ve been through a similar kind of sorrow.

These months I’ve seen her losing herself in time now and then. I’ve caught those moments nobody has, like when she’s staring at the screen of her computer and she seems focused on work, but abruptly her eyes glaze over, as if she’s thinking of something painful. She usually closes those hazels, inhales deeply and lightly shakes her head, as if to erase that thought, at least for the moment. I’ve caught those rare instants of weakness when she thinks no one’s watching and no one will see through the tiny cracks of her walls. I have.

I craved to ask what was it all about, but ... I’m not sure I’d have the strength to face it. Not tonight. I’ve never felt so fragile in my entire life, if I want to be even only the slightest bit useful, I need to pull myself together first. Besides, she’d just quit crying her heart out, it would be insensitive of me to ask.

In the end, she took a deep, deep breath and pulled back, eyes closed, muttering a very simple: “Thank you.” I only nodded, not sure of what to say. I know that kind of pain, but to be this strong ... something horrible must have happened, something she still can’t get over.

Silvia moved away for good this time, slowly, and because she hit something we should have seen long ago, namely the light switch, I was finally able to see her face.

I wish I never had. If watching her in the dark was awful, seeing now her tears-streaked face, her puffy and bloodshot eyes, her hair all ruffled, her reddened cheeks had my heart clench tightly. Why am I always this powerless in the face of sorrow?

The look in her eyes was meek, now as ever. She tried to quirk up her lips in a smile, but she didn’t make it, and her eyes filled with tears once again. Her hands shook the slightest, so I gripped one, squeezing it, and fished my pocket to get the little something I bought her weeks ago, tucking it in her hand while she looked at me confused. That hand was still weak, but it quit shaking the exact moment when I gripped it, possibly a sign she only needs someone that can understand her pain, and if I can’t, then who can?

Silvia held my gaze bravely, her hazel eyes staring into mine for a long moment, neither of us talking even if we really wanted to, well, I did. I craved to let her know that I understand what’s inside her, I know damn well what it’s like, but I couldn’t say that either, so I remained silent, merely gaping into those breathtaking hazel eyes.

I can have all the distractions I want, I can screw even all damn Boston, the whole damn country, but the odds remain. She is the one and only girl gripping my heart. I love her and only her and ... I can’t take this distance, this ... having to be detached. I can’t endure being so far from her. Yet I have to.

I know it’s cliché, but despite my every experience, despite everything I’ve been through, nothing’s ever hurt as much as letting go of her.

Gripping her hand, I dared mutter: “I ... probably shouldn’t have, but when I saw it I thought of you, so ... I want you to have it.

“Thank you ...” she replied feebly.

Neither of us moved, not even when we heard voices from the outside, clear sign Tess was finally coming to free us, but when the door opened, and his voice barged in, breaking through our safe cocoon: “Silvia.”

Her head whipped to the side. “Ryan?”

I closed my eyes, my hopes shredding the moment my ears perceived the happiness in her voice as she saw him. It’s for the best, I reminded myself. It’s for her best. I squeezed her hand one last time, then I let go. Of her hand. Of her heart. Of her.

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