Somewhat dazed, I trudged off into the living room once out of the bathroom. I woke up feeling sharp cramps down South, that’s a telltale sign for any woman, don’t you think? My head felt heavy, but I suppose it’s also due to how much I slept and how worn out I was when I fell asleep. I suppose now this is a definite farewell to the romantic chance we’d planned.
Then again, Ryan and I need to first of all define our relationship. Last night we kind of left it hanging, don’t you think? We didn’t exactly say the word out loud. He stormed out of Tess’ place, yes, he said he’d go back to Aspen, yes, but he never said, word for word, that he didn’t want to see me again. So we need to talk. In the end.
Right now I still felt too weak, though. Earlier outburst left me completely drained of my strengths, and now that Japan is attacking, I feel even worse. It’s like there are workers relentlessly drilling my womb, others hammering in my head, and nausea was starting to crawl up my gut as well. The aroma that hit my nostrils the moment I set foot into the living room didn’t exactly help.
Wait, who cooked?
When I entered the kitchen, and found the oddest sight ever, I startled. “Jake Watson cooking. Now I’ve really seen everything.”
He laughed, not even turning around, as he turned off the microwave. “As much as I’d like to take credit, this is not my doing. I’m only warming it up, since Your Ladyship took too long in waking up, so everything turned as chilly as your cold stone heart.”
I rolled my eyes as I reached the fridge, feeling my mouth too dry. “Haha, so funny.”
Jake grinned, grabbing plates from my cupboard. I see he’s made himself comfortable already. Then again, I’ve slept over four hours, he had time to discover my whole apartment. I’m actually surprised he stayed, but then, he’s like that. Hell, he’s been doing this all along. Every time I tell him to go, he stays. The more I push him away, the more he sticks to me. Yet when it’s me to be seeking him, he goes aloof.
I poured myself some water, and reached for the compartment near the sink, where I keep common medicines. Jake eyed me suspiciously as I poured the content of the medication into the glass. “It’s just Tylenol, for the pain.” I explained.
“I can read names, thank you very much.” He snorted. “The question is, why do you need it?”
I chugged down the medicine in one breath, then answered: “You don’t wanna know.” The only man I’ve ever known that wasn’t bothered by periods, aside from my father, it’s Ryan. My (ex) boyfriend never fled whenever he knew it was that time of the month. Poor fool. He’s learnt by now I’m not me during those five days, yet he always stayed, no matter how much I mistreated him. Because believe me, I did.
I’ve taken after my mother in this. We’re both really, really, really dangerous and aggressive those days of the month. I have no idea how could dad endure, also considering that until I lived there, it often happened that mom and I’s period coincided. Poor daddy.
Before I could open the faucet to wash the glass, Jake grabbed my hand. “I thought we were past this.” He claimed, serious. “I wanna know everything.” Ah, the deeper meaning of such statement ... when will this guy ever learn?
I slid my hand out of his grip, and opened the faucet to wash the glass. My head was still pounding, hopefully the medicine will have its effect soon enough, but given how many times I take it, I doubt it. I have what doctors call dysmenorrheal. That means that when Japan attacks, for me it’s Pearl Harbor every month. “Don’t bother.”
I rolled my eyes. “Seriously, Jake. Don’t.”
I groaned, frustrated. “Oh, for God’s sakes, just because we’re best friends, doesn’t mean you gotta know even when I have my period!”
His eyebrows furrowed, and I mentally counted. Three, two, one ... oh, there you go, realization hit him. He’s thinking, oh, Lord, I better hightail it out of here before the monster is unleashed. Serene told me her brother doesn’t handle these situations very well, opposite to Colin. Says that while Jake kinda disappeared every time, his best friend knocked on her door every hour, wondering whether she needed something. He has two sisters, so it’s obvious he’s used to this.
Ryan was the same ... he’s grown up amongst his cousins, four out of six of whom are girls, so you can easily guess what was his adolescence like. I suppose it did him good, because it taught him how to handle such things. I guess his wife will be very grateful to his cousins for having prepared him.
I was lucky to have him for so long. So damn lucky. But ... nothing lasts forever, right?
Before I could pathetically tear up again, Jake disrupted my heartbroken thoughts by heaving a deep sigh, his voice uncertain for once: “Uh ... okay, uh ... I-uh ... do you need ... uh ... what is it that you girls use?”
I nearly laughed. I can’t deny it was cute to see him insecure and frightened for the first time. “Seriously? You’re 29 and you still don’t know what women use for their period?”
He grimaced. “Can we ... call it something else?”
“Like what? It’s a period. Let’s call it period. Words matter to me, I’m a translator, remember?”
“Yeah, well, I ...” he sighed, raking a hand over his face, “... alright, uh ... what ...” he was backing up. Literally.
I laughed, this time for real, my ribcage feeling weird at the effort it made. “Jake, I’m not gonna kill you, don’t worry.”
“Yeah, maybe I should hide the knives anyways, just to be sure ...”
I’d have shot daggers at any other man that said that, but he really looked cute panicking like that. Besides, Tyenol was finally starting to have effect, subsiding my pain. “You know, I don’t need knives for that.” I turned around with an evil smirk. He didn’t seem scared, actually, he wasn’t at all surprised. Seems like my period-hormones frighten him more than my murderous skills.
Sighing, Jake looked me up and down. “Well, anyways, do you-uh ... need anything?”
“For you to stop watching me like I’m going to jump you any moment now, yes, thank you.” I spat.
He smirked, and only on second thought I realized how did I just phrase my comeback. “As much as I’d love for you to jump me, I’m afraid nature would get in the way this time, baby. But remember this feeling in five days.”
I rolled my eyes. “You never miss a chance, do you? Everything is an innuendo in that dirty mind of yours.”
Jake shrugged. “Told you, I’m a very sexual man, baby.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I sighed, heading out of the kitchen. “Either way, I only need peace, so ... you know where’s the door.” I lay down on the couch, heaving a deep sigh. Cramps subsided, the headache seemed slower, but nausea still wouldn’t relent. God, I hate these moments. It’s unfair. Why do men have it so easy while women have to deal with so much? Painful birth wasn’t enough, the monthly curse had to be put into the picture, too, huh? Goes to prove how right they are in say God is a He. Tsk.
With a sigh, Jake sat beside my feet, and took them, placing them onto his lap. “You’ll probably kill me the moment I close one eye, but ... I said I’d stay, and I will.”
I frowned as he began rubbing my feet. “I don’t need your pity.”
He rolled his eyes. “Number one symptom: she’s snappier than usual. Noted.”
“Jake.” I growled.
“Number two: she actually turns into a wolf. Noted.” He laughed. “Hey, these are things your future husband will need to know.”
“Ryan knows everything already.” Shit. What did I just say? I could see color draining out of Jake’s face the exact moment I said those words. I would have sat properly, but he didn’t leave my feet, if anything, he rubbed them with more verve, taking about 10 seconds to crack the most forced smile I’ve ever seen him crack. I did it again, damnit. I hurt him. Me and my stupid mouth.
“That’s good for him.” Jake murmured, his voice hoarse.
“I’m sorry, I-”
“Nah, don’t bother.” He forced his smile to widen. “It’s alright.”
“So, are you hungry? The food is ready, we really shouldn’t let it go to waste.”
That’s his feeblest attempt at a coping mechanism. Anybody would barely notice, but me, I knew it only meant the blow I just inflicted on him was way harsher than ever. Why do I never think before speaking? Especially with him my mouth just goes wild. It’s like my every word is a sword aimed at his chest, and I don’t want it, but it keeps on stabbing and stabbing him. I don’t wanna hurt him, but I just keep on doing it, and I don’t know how to stop.
Retrieving my feet from his lap, I sat up properly. “Don’t ... listen when I speak. I don’t always think before talking, and I usually wind up making a mess.”
He chuckled, quite forcedly, though. “I thought that was my prerogative.”
I didn’t laugh. Biting my lip, I rubbed his arm, afraid I really broke something this time. “I’m a walking disaster, Jake. You should know that by now. All I know is how to hurt people I care about.”
He half smiled bitterly. “You’re mistaken. That’s me, baby.”
I heaved a deep sigh. Right. This ... bad boy, tormented soul thing he has going on. “Jake ...”
“Come on, Silvia, you know I’m a tough nut. It’s gonna take more than a little lapse to wreck me.”
I bit my lip before spitting out it wasn’t at all a lapse. Truth be told, hadn’t I been more worried about the fact that I just hurt my best friend, I’d have focused on the fact that for the first time I actually connected the words Ryan and husband in the same sentence.
It wasn’t a lapse. I didn’t think before talking, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ... exactly believe it. I shouldn’t have said it out loud, that’s for sure, but ... the idea was somewhat tucked on the back of my mind. With all that’s been going on between us, it probably remerged just to torment me.
Maybe I’m not much of a wedding thinker, but ... I have thought about my future with Ryan. Hell, I do see a future with Ryan, that’s the whole point of this relationship, otherwise it’d have never lasted so long. But of course I always fuck up, it’s a script I never fail to enact.
“Right ...” I murmured, trying to salvage the situation before it got, 1) too heartbreaking; 2) too depressing. “Well, I’m not much hungry, my stomach forbids me everything, but ... hey, you eat. Who cooked, though?” Wow, one of the lamest attempts ever at changing subject.
Jake didn’t fall for it, predictably. “You know, now that I think about it, you just called me your best friend.” He grinned childishly. “Wasn’t that Tess’ role?”
I shrugged. “Nobody ever said there can be only one best friend per person.”
“So we’re both?”
“I suppose so ... too cheesy for you, Mr. Bad Boy?” Please, tell me we can’t forget about my stupid answer.
He laughed. “I’m not a bad boy, Silvia.” He argued. “Bad boys are shitty excuses for men whose only aim is to assert their predominance through violence. Bad boys are criminals. I’m not.” He bit his lip, as if pondering. “Mmh ... on second thought, maybe I am. I’ve been in prison after all.”
I blinked my eyes, baffled. “What?” Is that the way to blurt out such a fact?
“What? You wanna tell me you’re the only one not to know?”
I furrowed my brows, ever so confused. “How could I ever know you’ve been in prison if you’ve never once mentioned it?” I’m not much surprised that he was in jail, I’m more surprised that he never told me. Then again, now that I think about it, Jake never really talks about himself.
I mean, for having such a huge ego, it’s odd that he never finds the chance to fit his own self into every discourse. The sole details I actually know about his private life are that he has a sister he loves very dearly, that he’s a womanizer, and that he doesn’t get along too well with his uncle.
Damn, that’s really nothing. All this time, and I know so little about him? How could I never notice? I might know his character, his personality, I might understand him better than the average person, or at least that’s what Tess says, but ... I know basically nothing about his private life, what happens in his existence. Hell, I came to know he had a girlfriend only because she introduced herself as such, he’d have probably never told me.
That too ... the fact that he has a girlfriend yet still nurtures these feelings for me, it’s a huge elephant in the room we’ll all have to acknowledge at some point.
Jake shrugged nonchalant, reaching for the coffee table to grab the remote, and turn the TV on. “I spent 2 years in Rikers Island, New York. I was released a week before coming to the publishing house.”
He laughed, as if the fact that he was sent to a prison that, if movies are right, is mostly used for bad, bad criminals, were nothing. “Is it so unbelievable that I would break the law?” He wondered, smug.
I rolled my eyes. “No, but ... the fact that you say it so easily ...”
“It’s not much of a secret, according to Tess pretty much everybody at the office knows.”
“Well, I’m not much into gossip.” I snorted, grimacing when I tried to cross my legs. Definitely not a good position. Maybe the medicine subsided pain, but it was still kinda there. It’s odd that my hormones weren’t all over the place already, though. Usually I’m also hornier than usual these days.
Jake nodded distractedly as he swapped channels. “Well, I went to prison for 2 years. I should have served 5, but they released me on bail or crap like that.”
“Wait, so this means ...”
“That if I break the law during these 2 years and six months that are left, they can throw me back into prison, yeah.”
“Huh.” I never considered that. Some American laws still seem quite odd to me, I gotta be honest, but that wasn’t the point. “What ... what did you do?” That was the burning question. If he was sentence to 5 years, it must have been something huge.
Oddly enough, Jake’s features darkened. “I’d rather not tell.”
“Why not? It can’t be that bad, I-”
He snapped to me. “I said, leave it, Silvia.” His jaw clenched. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this mad, not at me anyways.
“Don’t I have a right to know?” I murmured. Yeah, no, I’m not at all good at being sensible.
He huffed. “No.”
“Then I’ll guess.” I scoffed, making him frown. “What? I need to take my mind off of the fact that one, I’m bleeding, two, that that makes me terribly horny and I’d probably fuck even this pillow right now.” Cue the widening of his eyes. And yours, I bet. What, you think I can’t mouth off nonsense too? Well, it is kinda true that when Japan attacks I’m hornier, but not to that point.
“I ... don’t even know how to answer to that.” He half chuckled.
“No? Then you’re losing beats, Mr. Watson. Normally you’d have made some dirty comment or made a pass at me.”
He shrugged. “Like I said, maybe in five days.”
“Tsk. It’s probably already enough that you had the guts to stay, I bet.”
“True that.” He laughed. “I’ve never once faced a woman with her ... uh ... well, that.”
“Period, Jake, it’s called period.” I rolled my eyes, snappy.
“I don’t like it.” He grimaced. “I don’t like thinking of all that blood where I usually-”
“Ah!” I covered his mouth with my hand. “Stop right there, Watson! I don’t wanna hear anything disgusting you were about to say.”
He laughed, but I grimaced when he licked my palm so that I would take my hand off his mouth, which I did. “Hey, just because you’re a virgin, doesn’t mean sex is disgusting. You should try before judging.”
I glared at him. “As tangled as my hormones are due to my period, it’s not wise of you to even only say the word sex.” I growled, frustrated. God, when will this end?
Jake laughed. “Fine, fine. Let’s divert subject, or you’ll probably wind up raping me or something.” I shot daggers at him, ready to bite off his head for joking about such a thing, but, foreseeing, he raised his hands in surrender. “Yes, yes, sorry, I shouldn’t have said that ... my bad. Please, don’t flagellate me. Or at least spare my handsome face, the female population will be grateful.”
I rolled my eyes. There you are, Mr. Cocky again. It might be a coping mechanism, but it’s also part of him. Sometimes a funny part, sometimes the side that makes me want to strangle him. But at least his mood improved, I guess I could take the chance now ...
Trying to find a correct position to sit despite my predicament, I attempted: “So, did you rob a bank? You don’t need the money, but you look like the type of guy that’d do it out of boredom.” No answer. “Did you steal something? Mmh, wait, no, I’m not sure that’s 5 years ...”
Uh oh. Bad sign. He really doesn’t want to talk about it. But I couldn’t give up, not just yet. “Did you kill someone?” I joked, knowing it was a super-wild guess.
Jake leaped to his feet, though, his jaw clenching, and when he spoke, I couldn’t believe my ears: “His name was Dave Murray.”
My eyes bulged out of their sockets. “What ...”
“He’s still alive. But I almost killed him, if you really wanna know.” His voice sounded mechanic, as if it were entirely void of any emotion.
“What ... you mean you ran him over with the car and he-”
“No, Silvia, no.” Jake snapped turning to me robot-like. “I attempted to kill Dave Murray. Willingly. I nearly beat him to death. With my bare hands. Happy now?”
I said it, why did I say it? How stupid. Couldn’t I enjoy our friendship just a little more? Why did I have to go and spoil it like that? Given my mission, even.
As paranoid as she is, and given her past, she probably won’t even let me any close to her anymore. She’ll probably change road the moment she sees me. Anybody would, someone like her, with such a past, would be even more justified to.
I might not know it all, but the dream was so vivid. If her sister was killed, you think Silvia would want to be friends with a murderer? Hell, who would want that? But Silvia of all people. She’s so paranoid and untrusting, knowing I nearly killed a man, you think she’d so easily spend time alone with me? I was actually counting the seconds before she made up an excuse to throw me out.
The truth is, it was probably another sort of coping mechanism. That ... “lapse” she had, it pierced through me so deeply, she’ll never know how much. I guess in the end Fitz as much as my therapist are right. Abandonment issues.
I’m bound to give up before it hurts too bad. Leave people before pain crawls back in. This unrequited love has already cost me more heartbeats than she’ll ever know, hearing now that she actually thinks of him as ... as a permanent companion, it did nothing but deepen an already bleeding wound.
Revealing such a detail of my life, I suppose I wanted to unconsciously drive her away. After all, don’t I keep on doing that? Fitz saw it way before me. Every time I seem to be any closer to her heart, I stagger back, cowering like a frightened rabbit. And in the end it’s not even entirely to “save her”. It’s mostly to save myself.
I turned my back on her, because I didn’t have the courage to look her in the eyes and see the moment she quit caring. I knew she would, and she probably should. I didn’t want to witness the moment I lost that tiny place I had in her heart, if I ever even entered it.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I really don’t. I just keep on trying to touch her heart, yet when I’m nearly there, I cower back, frightened. I keep on trying to have a stable place in her life, yet when I have it, I do everything to spoil it. I keep on pushing her away when all I should do is keep her as close as possible.
She’s ... she’s a balm for my wounds, you know. She can’t save me, nobody can, but ... Silvia, she’s the most effective placebo to my wounds. Maybe sex works for a few hours, or a whole night, alcohol numbs my senses, violence makes me feel alive, but ... being with Silvia is different.
She makes me feel like I’m in a totally different world, as if I could restart anew, on a clean slate. She makes me feel like as if every hour with her is a crack in my heart that’s restored.
I suppose it’s part of my self-sabotage complex, another issue Dr. Martin says I have. Every time I have a chance at happiness, I sabotage it, she says, because, deep down, I think I don’t deserve it. I wonder if that is also why I keep on pulling back from her.
“Why ...” Silvia murmured, her voice uncertain, “... why ... what was the reason?”
“Does it matter?” I spat, unable to hold my tongue. “Is there ever a good reason to kill a man?”
She heaved a deep sigh. “Depends on different factors.” She claimed, her voice shaky. “For instance, does a man that abused his wife and once beat her up so bad that she almost miscarried deserve to live? Does a man that tortured and murdered a defenseless 15-year-old girl deserve mercy?”
“Because I don’t think he does. So, did you have a reason to?”
“I’d have killed the man that murdered her, Jake.” Her voice was shaky, yet somewhat controlled. I wonder how could she talk about it without crying, given the breakdown she had earlier, but maybe the pain killer she took also numbed her senses.
I shouldn’t have taken advantage, but ... my tongue slipped: “Who?”
Silvia heaved a shaky breath, and I heard her fall onto the couch. She sniffled, as if forcing herself not to sob, and when I turned around, I saw her crying silently. Again. Damnit.
“Silvia ...” I kneeled before her, tired of these tears.
She pressed her eyelids, clenching her fists so tightly on her thighs that I saw them turning red. “I just ...” she drawled out, “... I just meant I ... I would ... I understand your position.”
“How can you be sure I was right to want it?” I couldn’t help wondering.
Silvia slowly opened her eyes, barely four tears staining her cheeks, as if she’d counted them before allowing them to fall. Her hazel fixed on my hazel-greens, and my heart lost a few more beast, but this time for a different reason. Her gaze always holds me captive. “You’ll never want to believe it, but you’re a good man.”
I lowered my head, leaving my hands on her thighs, unconsciously seeking her approval. “I’ve done a lot of bad shit in my life.”
I flinched when she cupped my face, forcing me to look up at her. “How many times do I have to say it? There’s nothing you could say, that’ll make me run away.” She took a deep a deep breath, and the result was a feeble smile that pushed past her sorrow, as if forced out, merely to serve to reassure me. “We’re friends, Jake.”
“That doesn’t mean you won’t change your mind about me. Some things are bound to-”
“Quit it. I don’t care what you’ve done, I care about you, and that’s final.”
I closed my eyes, letting myself go to her light caresses. Her touch was enough for my heart to regain some beats. Maybe its pace was hastened nevertheless, but it felt as if ... she was the melody that tuned it back to peace. Still wonder why do I love this woman?
“I’ll ... I’ll never be worthy of you, you know.” I breathed out, realizing something. “I ... I’m glad there’s Ryan in the way.” I looked up, my heart beating foolishly fast. “But the truth is, I need you. You ... you’re the only one that can save me, Silvia.”