Chapter Fifteen - A Lesson in Love Part B
When Matt storms out of the house, I look down at the gun hanging uselessly in my hand and I feel this incredible burning rage building up inside of me. It’s me. Again. It’s always me that screws everything up. Why do I even carry a gun in my own house? It’s not like I expect Matt to try and kill me or something. No, I carry it so that when we argue, I can threaten him with it and he’ll give in. I carry it so I can pretend I would even try to hurt him.
I don’t know what happened; my finger slipped, or I was holding it wrong, or I thought the safety was on; I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t mean to actually shoot at him. It’s lucky that I wasn’t aiming at him… or was that forethought? Was it deliberate? I don’t know any more. Everything happened so fast, and now I don’t know.
Before I can react, he is gone. Leaving me in the house that is his but should be ours, should be a home. If it wasn’t for me and my stupid gun. My obsession with control and power. Looking back, I was trying to start this argument the second I woke up. The second I realised I’d revealed too much of myself.
But what am I afraid of? Matt? How could I ever be? I might claim to myself to be scared of his rejection, but he wouldn’t reject me. I know he wouldn’t. I can see it in his eyes, I could see it when he was lying to me about being relieved I was dreaming about Penelope. Knowing that he knows I wasn’t, now, makes things seem a lot different. Did he go along with it to protect me, or himself? Because if there’s one thing I have and Matt doesn’t, it’s self-confidence. I can say with faith that Matt would not reject me. He can’t say the same. He can’t trust that I would ever need or want or like him. I know that. I know him too well.
So what do I do, to make him feel better about himself? To make him realise I do need him? I take a shot at him. Yeah, real fucking clever, Mello. Good one. They should put it in those self-help books about relationships, it’s a great tip.
And now I’ve let him run away from me. He’ll come back, but is that the point? I shouldn’t have let him run in the first place, I should have followed and caught him and begged him to come back. That’s what he needs to hear. But of course, I can’t give it to him. Not me, not Mello. Of course not. I’m far too tough and manly for that, right?
Fuck it. I hate this. I hate this image of myself that I’ve created, that I’ve needed as protection, that I now can’t drop. This isn’t me. This is not Mihael Keehl. This is Mello, and Mello is a bastard.
I sit down in the kitchen, thinking it over, toying with my options. Go after him on the bike, not knowing where he is? Wait, and have him come home later, resentful because I made no effort to get him back? Ring him, and have him hang up on me because my mouth is too damn big?
Eventually I decide to ring him, pulling my cell phone out of my pocket and dialling, waiting for the rings to be answered. I count them. One, two, three, four. Seven. Twelve. Nineteen.
I wait, and wait, and wait. Why won’t he answer?
A quick glance to the caller ID shows me that it’s Mello ringing, so I don’t stop to answer. I’m smoking, the car window slightly open, light rain drizzling through it to slowly soak my hair and clothes, the car radio blaring some kind of angry music. Mello’s. I reach over and switch to the local radio station, finding it just as noisy but less like Mello.
The phone is still ringing. It’s been at least a minute. Sighing in frustration, I reach over and pick it up, flip it open, hold it right next to the speakers. I can dimly hear Mello yelling my name. I leave it until I figure he’s probably bored of the song, then flip the phone shut again, cutting him off. I throw the phone over my shoulder, onto the back seat; it hits something with a sharp bang and I look into the mirror to realise all the tracking equipment is still on the back seat, apart from my laptop. Shit. Laptop. Well, I guess I’ll have to go back and get it at some point, I can’t really function for long without it. Still, I’m staying away for as long as I can. Give him some time to cool down. And me.
I can’t believe he… God. I mean, obviously I’m going to go back to him at some point, but… just not yet. I have a point to prove. That he needs me. That he doesn’t have to lie to me, and in fact doing so makes everything so much worse. I feel strangely calm. A few minutes ago I was angry and hurt, but the thing is that I understand Mello. He’s probably confused, angry at himself for acting that way; I won’t forgive him just like that, but that doesn’t mean I hate him or don’t want to go back to him.
I drive the car out of town a little way, and stop by the side of the road. I’m glad for the rain; I’d be fried without it. I finish the cigarette and flip it out of the window, reaching behind me for a game of some kind. My DS is in here from the last time I used it. I settle down into playing, getting into that calm and concentrated state that is necessary to play, focusing on nothing but the game.
I don’t need to think of him. I don’t need to think of anything, if I can absorb myself in something like this. I guess that’s why I play them: to distract myself. When I was a kid, I had to distract myself from my father and the pain and feeling unwanted. When I was at Wammy’s I had to distract myself from never beating Mello and Near, from never having friends other than Mello, from the way he seemed not to care so much either. Then when he left I had to distract myself from the loneliness and worry. Worry that was well-founded - because he never told me about the Mafia or the explosion until long after the fact. Maybe he was trying to protect me, in his own twisted way, but I didn’t want to be protected; I just wanted to be with him. And ever since he called me from Japan I’ve been playing to distract myself from the feelings that are increasingly difficult to hide.
I wish he could understand that I care about him more than anything. That when I say it, it’s not just empty words. It’s true. I would sacrifice myself a thousand times over just to see him happy and well. I would go through anything, no matter how hard, so long as he was alright. Maybe he wouldn’t return the favour, but that’s fine, because to care about someone this much really hurts sometimes, and I wouldn’t want him to feel that.
A few cars go past on the road, drivers probably wondering why I’m parked here, when there’s a whole city behind me. An exciting city, a loud and vibrant city full of crimes and criminals and backdoor sins. Hidden away behind all the glamour is a city of fools. Am I the only one who can see that?
The phone rings again, but I pick it up and turn it to silent. Now he can ring as much as he wants, but I won’t hear. And I won’t answer. I can’t talk to him without giving in.
Pick up the phone, Matt. Please. Please pick up the phone.
I sigh in frustration as it rings for at least the thirtieth time. It’s obvious he isn’t going to answer. I hang up, running a hand through my hair, and look over to the coffee table, where the keys to my motorbike have been resting since we got here. It’s about time I took it for a spin.
I head back into my bedroom to get leathered up, and take my helmet from the top of the wardrobe. As I’m leaving, I hesitate; what if he comes back when I’m gone? I find a miniature pad of paper, the kind that you use to make quick notes to yourself; small, but it’ll do. I write him a message over three sheets, and leave them on the island where he’ll see them:
Matt - I need you. I’m sorry. I’ve taken the motorbike to go find you. Please stay. I’ll come back if I don’t see you, just wait for me. Mello.
Then I gather up my stuff again and head out of the door. A gust of wind pushes it open as I turn the handle - the weather is worse than I thought. It’ll be alright. I need to find him.
I turn and close the door behind me, wondering whether to lock it; in the end I decide not to, because I’m not sure whether Matt has a key with him. I don’t want it to seem like I’ve locked him out.
Getting on the bike, I start it up and head out onto the road, wondering where I’m going to start. Bars, maybe? I know it’s too early for most people, but where else would he go? I decide to check the places we’ve been together, and head deeper into town.
So what am I afraid of? If not Matt, then who?
And the only answer that springs to mind, is God.