Chapter 7 ~ Sound Advice
I couldn't believe it... here I was, sulking over my stupid mouth, listening to this woman visually assessing everyone so crudely with no filter and lack of social decorum and standards, watching Carl swoon all over her as he drooled from the mouth and in Daniella walks, looking like she just stepped out of a glossy magazine. Rachael had mentioned she was waiting for her friend Stella, Stella... not damn Daniella.
I stood behind Dan in the elevator, and I was going to remain behind her until my apartment door was locked because there was no way I was letting her run now. I had already driven the entire length of our shitty home town in search for her, it was as though the moment she left Mum and Dad's Daniella became invisible, and this time, she will listen to what I have to say.
The boys and I eavesdropped on the girl's conversation, I mean we couldn't help it, we were all crammed in together. "...I just can't believe it though, Stella. We are in the elevator with thee Axel, thee Axel..."
"Would you stop saying thee, like he is some sort of superstar. It's just Axel," Danny snapped.
"And I'm Carl, in case you forgot."
I snorted when he interrupted. They ignored Carl completely, eyeing him strangely, and went back to bickering. "He kind of is though, I mean, we've known each other for what... seven years? And I've never heard you speak about anyone the way you talk about thee, Axel. It was sort of a shock to the system."
"Rach, would you like to tell them the dates to my cycle too, or how about the amount of orgasms I've had?"
"Do you want me to tell them that?"
"No dick, I don't want you to tell them that."
"Well, it's not like I know, Danny."
"I know, I know. With your form you lack empathy, having even mild A.S, you experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction. I get it, Rach, okay."
"A.S?" We all questioned at once, clearly, Carl, Marshall, Regan, and I were all paying close attention.
Daniella growled, "Asperger's syndrome. That's Rachael’s form of autism. There are many degrees and people diagnosed with Asperger's, their condition’s vary. Rachael lacks social cues and empathy."
Hmm, I had never met anyone with Asperger's before, though, that would explain some lingering questions I had. We arrived on the penthouse level, the door opened straight into my apartment. Danny, being who she is, caught on quickly. "How do you stop people from wandering right into your house?"
"There are two key cards that activate my level; one is kept in my safe, the other in my hand at all times. Without the key card, I keep on my person – at all times..." I made sure to emphasis on – at all times – so she would understand, "you can't exit either."
"So, you're saying we are locked in here, Axel?" I heard the huff of irritation in Daniella’s question, she already figured out the answer too.
"Yep, you can't get in or out." I strode past them with a smug smirk on my face, knowing all too well, Dan would be seething at not being able to walk out on me, or out, of the conversation – we are going to have.
I was in the kitchen pulling out some beers from the fridge when I heard her. "Vodka and Redbull?"
"Fresh out I'm afraid, tequila and orange juice?" We could hear the music being played on the stereo system, I prayed whoever turned it on was using the remotes and not leaving fingerprints behind on my stuff.
"Guess that will do," Danny snipped. "Your house is... nice," I detected the disapproval in her tone.
"What do you mean by that?" I turned around to watch her.
"Nothing, I meant nothing by it."
I pushed off the kitchen bench and slowly stalked forward, Daniella began to shift nervously and tried to look away. I leaned in closer, placing my hand on the shelf above her head and gazed down, fully aware my body was pressed against her’s. "Now's not the time to be shy, Danny, tell me what you meant?"
She sucked in a sharp breath between her parted lips, "I-I... it's cold, Axel."
"So, I'll turn up the heat."
I pulled down two glasses and retreated back, relishing the fact that I made Daniella squirm. I heard her groan as she attempted to calm herself, "no Axel, I mean, where are your pictures? There's no life. Sure, your apartment screams grandeur, but there is no warmth. It's as though no one lives here."
The few people I allowed into my inner sanctum would always bask in awe of its opulence, now she, the queen of ice, is informing me my apartment is cold and lifeless? "I don't like mess," I simply stated.
"You never have, but photographs are not mess, they are memories frozen in time. Where are your pictures of Mum and Dad?" I think Daniella actually meant, where are the photographs of her?
"I keep them locked away."
"Does it matter?" I retorted with fire.
"Yes, it matters. It's like I – they – never meant anything to you."
"They – mean everything to me. Do you think I want to be surrounded by phoney memories?"
"Phoney?" She spat incredulously.
"Yes, phoney." I turned around and handed over Dan’s tequila and orange juice, which she took as well as Rachael's, as I collected the beers by the neck. "Do you honestly believe I want a reminder of the day my heart was ripped from my chest? To continuously be tortured? Because how I remember it, was waiting and waiting, below our tree on graduation day, for a girlfriend that never showed up. That left me without so much as a goodbye, that disconnected her number, that promised me she would always be there..." I inhaled deeply, reining in the sudden rise in not just my temper but my emotional heartbreak. "But you weren't there, you deserted me Dan, and nothing, I had been through as an unwanted street kid, hurt more, then the moment you broke my heart."
Her eyes were fixated on the floor, glistening with tears that didn't spill over. Even sad and guilt-ridden, Dan remained beautiful. I went to step past her but she blocked my path, "I was scared," Daniella whispered. "You knew about the bullying, you saw it for yourself." Daniella finally looked up at me, to face me head-on, "they all saw us as brother and sister, they all persecuted us and labelled us incestuous."
"But we're not blood brother and sister, Danny, we never have been. We're not even slightly related, and you should have been strong enough to tell them to go fuck themselves. I was thirteen when I came to live with the Hutchinson's, a teenager..."
"Dance Battle," Rachael comes screaming into the kitchen and grabbed her drink, interrupting. "Thank you."
When Rachael had left, Danny whispered again, "I was scared, Axel. That day, that day they..."
I couldn't hear the excuses, it all made me too angry. I would no longer stand for it. "I trusted you, loved you from the first moment..."
"Come on you two," Rachael grabs Danny by the hand and reefs her out into the lounge.
Dan slumped into the chair, staring unfocused with the saddest look upon her face. I wish I couldn't feel, I wanted to turn off all my emotions, but when it came to her, I was unable to shut away my love for Daniella or the painful reminder of what she had done to me.
Marshall climbed up on Regan's lap and kissed his cheek, an action I was used to but I forgot Dan didn't know. Her mouth flew open as though she were trying to catch flies. "What? When? How?" She gasped.
"Oh, that's right, you've been gone too long, ballerina," Marshall winked.
"I can't believe you two of all people, ended up together. Guess that's why you guys were so comfortable with our weird." Dan waved her finger between the both of us. "How did it happen?"
"You want to hear our story?" Regan asked.
"Desperately," Dan smiled.
"Well, as you know I had always been openly gay while Mars, tried to hide it. When you left, all of us got together to try and figure out ways to get Axe out of his room and back into life. But, things were starting to get really awkward between Marshall and I the more time we spent together. He was struggling with himself, and his attraction towards me, I could tell."
"Hey, I was the quarterback, remember, the ladies' man, with rich parents and the set life," Marshall chimed in.
"Yes, I remember," Regan laughed. Carl and Rachael had joined us on the couches, that boy had one goal tonight, it was amusing to watch him work.
"Anyway, I had already made a few subtle moves on Mars, but he would just laugh and push me away, it hurt, to love someone you couldn't be with, to see him sleep with someone else." Dan's face dropped, I knew she was thinking about us.
"So, one night, Greta had a party. We dragged sad sack, Axel, out, and we were all pretty smashed. Carl was driving, Axel was in the passenger's seat, and Marshall and I were in the back. I was pretty fucken angry because once again, I had walked in on Mars with his dick buried in Greta's hole." You could see the shame and regret wash over Marshall, he obviously still felt bad about his past.
"When we were sitting there, Mars was leaning on me, drunk out of his mind and poking my leg with his finger... 'Come on man, what's wrong? Tonight was fun'... I couldn't handle it anymore; I was tired of seeing him deny what felt so right and so natural. I kissed him."
"Oh my god, I remember that," Carl gasped.
"Shhh," Danny shushed him, swatting him with her hand. "Then what happened?"
"What happened was, I punched Regan in the face," Marshall replied.
"No," both girls gasped.
"Yep, he broke my nose too," Regan nodded, chuckling to himself.
"I had to pull over and drag you from the car before you killed Reag’s," Carl said to Marshall, who hung his head in shame.
"Marshall stormed off and Axel and Carl took me home."
"But then, how did you two end up together?" Danny pushed on.
"Let me," Marshall stated to Regan. "See, I was at war. I knew I had feelings for Reag's, I always had, but my Dad had been very clear on his opinion of 'Faggot's' as he calls us. When Regan kissed me, I was in shock and just reacted the only way I've ever been taught, fight. For the entire week, I had no contact with anyone, and all I could think about was Regan's kiss. It was haunting me, dreaming or awake, I just couldn't get his damn lips out of my head. That's when I got a phone call from Axel. He told me that Regan had been beaten up, the police had found him half-dead near the train tracks and they were at the hospital waiting to see if Regan. Axel screamed at me..."
"If he dies, this shit is on you. Do you honestly think we care? We will be there for you no matter what, be fucking honest with yourself, Mars." I cut in, remembering my words as clearly as the day I spoke them.
"My legs moved faster than my mind, and I hauled ass to that hospital room. Another week went by, sitting there every day, wishing Regan would just wake up. And when he finally opened his eyes, he wasn't happy to see me at all. Called security and got me thrown out of his room."
"To be fair, I would have too." Danny commented, "Go on."
"When Reag’s returned home, he wouldn't answer my messages, calls, e-mails; he had completely tossed me aside. By now, I was going crazy and my life was falling apart, so, I went over to his house. My plan was to fix our friendship, but when I opened his bedroom door, he was lying shirtless on his bed with his headphones on. I couldn't help myself, I leapt on him. That night we slept together, for the first time in my life, everything felt right, I wasn't repulsed or disgusted with myself. I didn't get up and leave right away, no. I was exactly where I was meant to be."
"What about your Dad?" Daniella questioned.
Marshall looked painful, "I haven't spoken to either of my parents since the day I told them I was gay and they threw me out."
"Wow, I'm so happy for you both, that was one hell of a story." As Danny sat there in quiet contemplation, it was Rachael that caught my attention, it seemed a lightning bolt had struck her.
"Oooohhh, Greta?" She began pointing rapidly at Danny. "Greta was the name of the bully that..."
"Rachael," Daniella screamed with wide eyes, "didn't you really want to play a game? Dance battle or something?" The way Dan acted had my suspicions on high alert, what the hell was that about?
"Yes..." Rachael moaned, Carl's eyes nearly bulged out of his head, you could tell the moan affected him.
"I'll be your partner," Carl offered, way too quickly.
I watched Daniella with curiosity as we played the most ridiculous game ever. Her face still beamed brightly when a certain song would come on, but she wouldn't dance. It was like she was forcing herself to not participate and dancing used to be her favourite thing in the world.
We were all sitting around, Marshall and Daniella were wrapped up in conversation, talking animatedly with one another, every now and again she would burst out laughing. Carl and Rachael had begun making out in the corner. I hoped those two idiots didn't spill anything on my carpet. Regan and I, however, sat on the couch observing everyone.
"I'm going to ask him to marry me."
My head snapped sideways, "what?"
Regan nodded, "yep, Mars is the only guy for me. I've known that since school."
"Wow, it's a massive step," I blew out a heavy breath, "well, congrats man, that's awesome for you."
"Thanks." The air became really weird all of a sudden, and Regan started to tap his fingers awkwardly on the armrests. "Can I give you some advice?" He blurted out, unable to hold back any longer.
"What," I huskily growled.
"I know you still love ballerina. You went bat-shit crazy the moment she left this afternoon, the look on your face told me you had regretted saying those words in her room. I think there's more to her sudden disappearing act than you know. You two need to talk, be open and honest about everything, and for once Axe man, try to do it without the need to hurt her. Ya know, keep those venom-laced words of yours under control. You can't magically go back in time, she's here, right in front of you, why not seize the opportunity and explore the now? Maybe this time, things will work out differently?"
Perhaps he was right, hell, he had been in my shoes once upon a time, but could I trust Daniella again?