John could still feel the searing sting of Rose's slap on his face. To say he was dumbfounded would be a complete understatement. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined the scenario at hand—Rose at his door, full of fire and rage, and it all directed at him. John had never seen her so enraged, not even after the ketchup mishap.
What just happened?
John suddenly realized that, in his daze, he had missed Rose rushing off. He quickly ran into the hallway and chased after her.
"Rose!" he called out to her, but she refused to acknowledge him and continued towards the lift. "Rose! Rose, will you just wait?!" he shouted as he grabbed her arm. She immediately jerked her arm out of his grasp.
"Don't touch me!" she hissed, repeatedly slamming the button for the lift. She refused to even look in his direction. Rose was so full of rage that she could feel her insides burning.
John was undeterred. "Rose, will you just talk to me? Tell me what's wrong!" he pleaded. At that word, she rounded on him. John took a step back at the intense fury he saw in her eyes.
"What's wrong?! You use me and my family and you DARE ask me what's wrong?!" she growled and then turned back towards the lift. "God, what's takin' this thing so long?! Where's the bleedin' stairs?" she said as she banged on the lift doors and then looked around for said stairs.
"Rose, you're not making any sense. ROSE?!" John shouted, trying to gain her attention.
She spun around again at him, eyes still ablaze. "I'm not makin' sense? I'M not makin' sense?" she asked, raising her voice with each word.
"Are you going to just yell questions at me in the hallway or are you going to start acting like an adult and explain what all this is about?" he spat out, his own frustration reaching the boiling point.
Rose drove a finger into his chest. "Don't call me a child!"
"Then don't act like one! This is ridiculous…I don't know what this is about, but we are not doing this here," John growled, grabbing her hand and dragging her back to his flat, Rose jerking and smacking at him the entire way. Once she was through the door, he slammed it shut and leaned against it, blocking her exit.
"Ya can't keep me here!" she shouted, pacing the living room in angry agitation and threading her fingers through her hair.
"I'm not moving 'til you explain what's going on and why you slapped me," John said determinedly, keeping his post in front of the door.
She stopped and looked at him squarely. "You deserve a heck of a lot more than a slap."
John pushed himself off the door but still stood guard. "What's gotten into you? Would you try explaining for once?!"
"YOUR BOOK!" she hollered. John paled at her reply. How could she possibly…
His reaction wasn't lost on Rose, no matter how blinded she was by anger. "See—you do know what I'm talkin' about!"
John took a step towards her but she quickly backed away, every inch of her radiating "stay away!"
"Yvonne," Rose spat. "She came into the shop today. Said she was sorry for my 'tragedy and pain' and how much I've been through. Said your book was about everythin' that's happened to me."
"You believe Yvonne?" John asked incredulously. "You believe my spoiled, unstable ex-girlfriend, who you knew all of…what, fifteen minutes? That's what you're telling me?"
"You tellin' me that's not what your book's about?" Rose challenged.
"No…yes…it's not that simple!" he said, tugging at his hair.
"You used me! You used my family! All because you weren't smart enough to come up with an idea on your own!"
John's eyes became filled with anger. "Used you?! You're seriously going to stand there and accuse me of using you all? You think that everything was a lie—some sort of act to get what I wanted?"
Rose threw her hands up. "What do you expect me to think, after-..."
"After what?" he cut her off. "After coming to the shop almost every day just to talk to you—to see your face? Spending time with Tony? Sitting by your hospital bed through the night and praying that you'd come back to me? You mean after all of that?" John was starting to tremble at the effort it took to control the storm brewing inside of him.
Rose wasn't backing down so easily. "Don't try 'n pretend like you care about me!"
"Pretend?! Seriously?! Are you…after everything…," John was quickly losing the ability to make coherent sentences, rage and frustration coursing through his veins. He began to walk in place, but then he stopped and looked up, his eyes boring into her. "This is the perfect excuse for you, isn't it?"
Rose's eyes widened, her mouth opening and closing a few times before she said, "What's that s'posed to mean?!"
He moved towards her, his eyes never breaking contact. "It means this gives you a reason to run away again!"
"Run from what?" she spat out.
"From me…from us!" he shouted, motioning between them. His patience was hurriedly reaching the brink.
"There is no 'us.'"
"And whose fault is that?!" he shouted, finally done containing his feelings, finally at the breaking point. "Who's the one who's been holding back the entire time? The one who refuses to be happy? 'Cause it's definitely not me!"
Rose just stared at him, unable to speak. John took advantage of her momentary silence. "I wasn't hiding anything. I was going to tell you about the book, soon actually. You know why I didn't tell you about it immediately? Because I thought that after everything we've been through, after all you knew about me, that you would give me the benefit of the doubt. That you wouldn't assume the worst in me, in what I was doing. But, you don't even want to consider that I had good intentions! Because it's easier for you to push me away instead of actually working through something! It's easier for you to run!"
At that statement, Rose lunged forward and shoved him. "Ya don't know anythin'," she snapped.
"I know plenty! You think you're the only one to know what it's like to lose someone? You think you're the only authority on pain? My parents died when I was three. I never got to know them. All I have are pictures and people telling me how much I remind them of my father or how Donna looks like my mother. You think that it doesn't hurt that I can't remember them? That I'll never know them? Or are you the only one who's allowed to have those emotions?"
"I'm sorry you lost your parents," Rose said, her voice softening just slightly. "I never said you haven't felt pain. But, it's different. You've never watched someone ya love die in front of you. To see 'em fade right before you and know there's nothin' you can do can stop it. You have no idea what that's like!" she choked out, tears strangling her voice.
"I know exactly what that's like."
"How's that?" she dared.
"Because I watched YOU die!" John shouted, his voice overcome with unrestrained emotion. He saw the fire in her eyes fade at his revelation. "I was sitting next to you, holding onto your hand, and just like that you were gone. I helped drag Martha out of the room as she screamed for you. I could still hear her screams for hours afterwards. I could feel my heart stop as I watched them pound on your chest, trying to bring you back. And I…I couldn't do anything! All I could do was watch and pray to God that you wouldn't leave us…that you wouldn't leave me. So, I understand perfectly what it's like to watch someone I love die!"
The reality of what he had just admitted hit Rose full force. She wasn't prepared for it and was at a loss for what to do next.
"Th-this…this doesn't change what you did," she replied, her anger still present but quickly weakening into uncertainty.
John rubbed his face and took a deep breath, desperately trying to rein himself in. "You don't even know what I really did. You just assume you do."
"I know enough."
"No, you only know what you want to know. You don't want to know the whole truth, because if you did, then you wouldn't be able to keep pushing me away," he said, his frustration starting to climb again.
"And why would I wanna push you away?"
"Because you love me!" he said, looking straight at her, his eyes intense and brimming with emotions too numerous to mention.
Rose's breathing stopped at his answer and the emotions accompanying it. This was a reality that she wasn't ready to acknowledge. She couldn't deny it, but she still couldn't embrace it. John took another step closer to her so that now there was only an arm's length between them. However, he made no attempt to touch her. Instead he continued, "You love me…and that…that terrifies you. I don't know why, but it does. I don't think you even know exactly why, but you still let it hold you back."
Rose broke her eyes away and turned her gaze downwards. There was no arguing what he had just said—every word was true and it shamed her.
John still wasn't finished. "Rose…I want you...to be with you…I need to be with you. I don't feel...complete without you. You make me better. And not a day goes by that I don't think of you. That I don't wonder what you're doing or wish I could be with you. I know you're scared–-you told me so that night outside the gala; but you also said you wanted to be with me…so why…why are you still fighting it?'' His voice was desperate, pleading for her to surrender.
Words ceased and they remained motionless as the dust settled. Neither knew where to go from there. So much had transpired—both spoken and unspoken—and yet, there they were, still unable or unwilling to proceed further. It was Rose who broke the standoff, sidestepping John and making her way to the door. John called out to her, but to no avail. He finally willed his feet to move, to go after her. Not seeing her in the hallway, he ran down the stairs and out the front of his building. He looked around frantically, but it was no use—Rose was gone.