“Please, Janie baby, can I go with you?” Pietro was begging his girlfriend Jane earnestly. She only kept walking, heading for the door, and he followed after her, easily keeping pace. The further they walked and the closer they got to the exit, though, the more desperation clawed up his throat from the tight grip it had on his heart.
“No, Pietro. I have to do this by myself.” While he was desperate, practically falling apart, Jane had an icy calm exterior. With a calm and collected head, she didn’t stray from her path. She was walking a line of the shortest distance between her and the door.
“Janie baby!” Pietro’s voice pitched higher and he started to get even more frantic, if that was possible. “I promise I won’t get in your way.” At odds with his words, he stepped directly in front of her and was forced to walk backwards as she didn’t stop walking or change direction.
“No. This has to be done alone.” Jane’s tone was not cruel, but it was not merciful either. Her luminous green eyes stared right through him to her goal: the door.
“Please!” Pietro was passed whining now. “Why can’t I come with you, Janie baby?” He sounded so sad. Tripping over his own feet from walking backwards, he soon was walking by her sad, his eyes glued to her face to see if she was wavering in her decision yet. So far there wasn’t a sign of that.
“Because.” Jane’s reply was laconic as she started getting short with him. She pushed past him and she reached for her purse that was hanging by the door. Pausing in her progress for the door, she rummaged through her bag to see if she had enough money and the keys for her vermillion Lamborghini.
“Because why?” Pietro raised his voice to a wail and caught his girlfriend’s arm, foolishly trying to hold her back so he could get a real answer out of her.
“I can’t trust you.” Jane didn’t yell the words. They were spoken without ice or malice. Still, they cut deep into Pietro’s core, and if he were a lesser man he would have cried. Instead of yanking her arm out of his grasp, she gently disentangled him from her. Gently prying his fingers away from her arm one by one, once she was free from his grip, she walked to the door with keys in hand and grabbed the doorknob with her free hand. “I’m going to the mall to pick-up a birthday present and a Christmas present for you, Pietro. If you go with me – even if you don’t even go into the same stores as me – I know you’ll just peak earlier and spoil the surprise. That’s why you have to stay here.”
Pietro whimpered pathetically and gave her pitiful puppy-dog eyes, his mouth puckered into a pout that normally got him his way with her.
“Pietro,” Jane sighed, “it’ll only be for a few hours. You’ll be fine. Stop being so dramatic.”
Immediately, his mood changed on a dime. “I know I’m being ridiculous, but I really, really want to go to the mall with you.”
“During this holiday season? We don’t have time for your sticky fingers, Pietro.” Jane tossed that last remarked as she walked out the door, closing it gently behind her as she went.
With her gone, Pietro flopped on his stomach on his bed, moody and sullen. Now he had to play the waiting game until Jane returned. Of course, he could always just pop over to the mall by himself. Running at the speed of sound he would be sure to beat her there, but she had basically gotten him a babysitter. If Darcy knew he left the house, she’d tell Jane and he’d be busted. So he was stuck here at the X-Mansion, bored out of his mind without Jane.
Groaning with frustration, Pietro sullenly rolled over on his side until he could see Balto, their half-husky puppy, asleep in his bed, his head resting on his paws with one of his squeaky-toys half-hanging out of his mouth. “What am I supposed to do now, boy?” Pietro rhetorically asked the sleeping dog. “The students are dismissed for the holiday season and there isn’t even any snow outside to play with. All the Christmas decorations are already hung up and Wanda is doing Jewish things. God, Darcy is also in heat so this mansion isn’t safe to wander around in.” Thinking out loud, Pietro flipped over from lying on his side to lying on his back. Staring up at the ceiling, he tapped his fingers on his stomach before he shifted position, his arms behind his head. He wiggled his toes, restless. It was going to be a long wait and all he could do is torture himself with thoughts of what she might get him.
Lying in bed like that lasted for approximately five more seconds before he couldn’t stand it anymore and was pacing around his bedroom, looking for stuff to entertain himself with. Flipping on his music, he first played Time in A Bottle; perhaps a poor choice in song since it was the song he and Jane danced to on their first date when he took her to eat at that Italian joint in the alleyway. He played on his arcade games for a while, about five minutes, and then moved on to actually playing on his Xbox. The internet connection kept buffering, slow, and Pietro immediately grabbed his phone and started texting Forge that he needed to fix the Wi-Fi so that it could go faster. Pietro pulled out some of his older toys and knickknacks that sometimes managed to occupy his mind. The Rubix cube was easily solved at least seven times before he tossed that away. Desperate for entertainment, he even pulled out his old Legos and built everything the instructions told him that he could make before he soon got bored of that as well. Really, what had he been doing with his life before he met Jane?
Surely an hour at least had to have passed by now. Pietro checked the time on his phone and cursed loudly. It had only been fifteen minutes. Well, now that he had his phone out, he screwed around on social media for a little bit, periodically changing the song. Eventually he crawled back into bed, his face still glued to the screen. Soon there were no more notifications for his social media or any of his games, so he plugged up his phone to charge and curled up on his side, still letting the music play. He grabbed Jane’s pillow that still smelled exactly like her and cuddled it to him as if it were a teddy bear. When the next song started to play on his phone, he sang along this time.
“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
It’s not warm when she’s away.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And she’s always gone too long
Anytime she goes away.”
By now his mind had started to wander, and his imagination ran wild as he imagined just what exactly she was doing now. Was she still driving? Was she already at the mall? Which one of the stores would she go into to get his present? Was she just shopping for him or was she buying everyone else’s Christmas presents as well? Was she going to buy something for herself, too? She really should. Pietro really couldn’t imagine what she was going to get him. They already had a dog, and he already was dating her. What more could he possibly want?
“Wonder this time where she’s gone.
Wonder if she’s gone to stay.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away.”
Soon enough he fell asleep without even realizing it, and he didn’t wake up until a few hours later when he heard the door open with a soft click and Jane gently crawl on the bed, trying not to disturb him. With bleary vision and sleep still in his voice, Pietro lifted his head, looking for her. “Janie baby? How long were you gone?” His phone had long ago stopped playing music as it had reached the end of his library. He must have been out for a while then.
“Oh, a couple of hours. I’m exhausted from fighting the traffic and the crowds.” Jane cuddle up to him, kicking off her shoes, her eyes already closing on their own accord. “What did you do without me?”
“Absolutely nothing.” Pietro admitted, his eyes focusing on her beautiful face. He tried to memorize every detail of it, the dark smudge of her long eyelashes brushing against her pale cheeks, the way her lips puckered to look so kissable. As was his habit by now, he started trying to count her freckles. “What did you get me, Janie baby?”
Without missing a beat she replied with a yawn, “You’ll see soon enough, Pietro.” She snuggled closer to him and he wrapped his arms around her in turn. “Go back to sleep.”
Pietro nuzzled his nose into her black hair, inhaling her scent that was much stronger on her than on the pillow. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Later on his birthday, Pietro opened his present from Jane. It was a bongo set. He never got tired of banging on those drums, just like he would never grow tired of banging his girlfriend Jane.
A week or so after that, Pietro opened his Christmas present from Jane on Christmas morning with the rest of the mutants in the living room. It was a guitar, and he laughed before he gave her his present to her for Christmas. Her present was also a guitar. Together they learned how to play the instrument until nearly every night they sung a duet together in a way different than they had before. They still sang that old familiar tune of love, though, as well.