Chapter 47: The Side Of Him I Didn't Know
“I know you probably don’t want to see me right now, but we really need to talk.”
Levi’s words hang in the air as we stand in silence for awhile. We’re about six feet apart but even that feels like a much longer distance to me now.
“I don’t want to talk to you.” I tell him as I advert my eyes. “I still need more time before I’m ready to even begin to try to understand this situation.”
“You’re misunderstanding.” His words sounds so direct and emotionless. They cut through my feelings like a knife.
As I glance towards him now a feeling of unfamiliarity creeps in.
Just by his body language and the expression on his face I can tell that he’s so calm, collected, and unfeeling right now.
This is nothing like the Levi I’ve known for the past four years.
Even when we were younger he was pretty quiet and expressionless until middle school but even back then it seemed more shy and reserved but now it feels unsettling and scary.
I feel like I don’t know him at all.
I take a deep breath and a big step backwards. “I told you guys to scare her a little so she would come to me more, not intentionally hurt her and trash her locker. You took it too far.” I repeat his words from Friday night that I was unable to forget no matter how hard I tired.
My voice starts to shake as I continue on, “Am I? Am I really misunderstanding? Because I absolutely want to believe that. I even tried to convince myself that I am but hearing you say those words and then remembering exactly what you said that night makes me realize even more that I don’t think I’m misunderstanding at all.”
This is even harder than I thought it would be. I’m not ready to talk about this with him, but then again I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready.
Is there a time limit for this type of thing? Does the hurt ever dull down when you feel blindsided and betrayed? Or does everything just blow up at once in a confrontation like it is now?
“I’m telling you that you’re misunderstanding.” His tone is cold but it softens as he continues, “Rin, you need to trust me. I would never purposely do anything to hurt you. We’ve known each other practically are whole lives, right? You know me.”
I don’t know if I can trust what he’s saying. Ever since Friday night each passing moment has been making me feel like I never knew Levi at all.
I shake my head. “You say that, but do you even know how upset and hurt I feel right now? Don’t carelessly say things that you think will make everything better because it won’t. I don’t want to hear you say that it’s a misunderstanding. Those words mean nothing right now.” I cross my arms over my chest, my whole body shakes even thought I feel far from cold.
Levi quickly pulls off his hoodie with no struggle or hesitation. He steps closer to me holding it out.
I take a step back with each step he takes closer. “I’m not cold.” I mumbled out in rejection of his offer.
“But you’re shaking. Rin, please just take my hoodie and put it on. You get the chills easily and often end up sick after.” Levi pleads.
My eyes go to his hand that holds out the hoodie. It’s shaking too.
I still don’t take it.
I let out a sigh as I shake my head once again. “Can’t you understand? I’m not shaking because I’m cold. I’m shaking because I’m angry and scared.”
I watch Levi’s head tilt to the side. Even though it’s dark the moonlight is just bright enough for me to see the confusion on his face. “Angry and scared? Why?”
At this question a small bitter laugh involuntarily escapes my mouth.
Why? He seriously wants to know why? Is he playing dumb or did he get hit hard in the head with a baseball during baseball practice recently?
There’s no way he could be that dense to not understand why I would feel angry and scared right now, right?
“Levi,” I can barely choke back the urge to cry as I say his name. “I’m only going to ask you this once. Are you responsible for the harassment I’ve been receiving? Not just now but in the past as well from back when we were still in middle school?”
I shouldn’t ask this because I feel like I already know the answer well enough but at this point no matter how much I don’t want to hear him answer it I know I need to. Either he’s going to lie straight to my face or he’s going to tell me the truth. I don’t know which way it better or worse. I just know either way it’s going to hurt.
He doesn’t answer right away.
My heart is beating way too fast, my body is shaking so much, and my head feels dizzy.
I hold my breath as I watch Levi shuffle his feet back and forth. His head hangs low. He mumbles something so quiet that I can’t make it out.
Finally after what feels like way too long he looks up. I hear a quiet sob and then a louder one as he cries out, “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.” As he steps closer again I don’t step back this time.
I stand in place almost like I’m petrified. The closer Levi gets the more I can make out the tears dripping down the face. Whatever icy coldness he had when I first saw him seems to have evaporated.
I’m reminded of the boy who I grew up with who used to cry whenever I did or whenever I was going through a hard time.
The tears I’ve been holding back start to drip down my face now as well.
Levi’s close enough now that he wraps his hoodie around my shoulders before typing it into place. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. Now or back then. You have to believe me. It’s my fault. I know it’s my fault but it wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I swear.” He whispers as he now pulls me into his arms.
I’m rigid. I don’t hug him back. I just stand there stiff and inconsolable as we both cry.
After a few minutes of me just standing there crying while Levi cries and tries to hold tightly onto me I finally muster the strength and courage to push him away. “I don’t care what you meant to happen or your intentions, all I want you to do is look me in the eyes and tell me that you intentionally caused everything.”
Levi adverts his eyes.
I clench and un-clench my hand in a fist before finding the verve to reach towards him. I stand on my tip-toes as I place a hand on either side of his face. “If what you say is true and you didn’t mean for it to happen or that you never wants to hurt me, then I need you to clearly answer me.” My voice is barely above a whisper but I luckily am able to keep it from trembling this time.
Tears continue to flow down Levi’s face, hitting my hands in huge warm drops. His eyes resemble a lost puppy. I feel his head nod in my hands.
“When we were in middle school I really didn’t mean for the bullying to start. I told a lie because I wanted Silas to get in trouble but when you ended up being the one getting bullied I really regretted it. I stayed by your side and tried to protect you to repent for it out of guilt. I never thought I’d actually...” His voice trails off.
Levi takes a deep breath before he continues, “...I never thought I’d actually start to fall for you and once I realized that I had feelings for you I tried to hide it. I really did because I know I don’t deserve to feel this way towards you after what happened in the past, but I couldn’t hold it back anymore. You didn’t take me seriously but I thought that would be okay. I thought telling you that I love you would be enough but instead from the moment I told you until even now I’ve become increasingly greedy and selfish.”
I expected a yes or a now answer which I was barely prepared for but I feel even less prepared now to hear the whole story come pouring out of him right this moment. I try to move my hands form his face now, but Levi’s hands seem to slide up and hold mine securely in place as he gazes at me with watery, needy eyes.
He continues to speak tying my stomach in to knots with each word, “I thought even if you didn’t love me back at least you relied on me and needed me. At least I was the closest person to you. Even if Silas was always around, I knew you were angry and hostile towards him. It didn’t matter if he liked you all along. It didn’t matter if he took the blame for me even though we both knew the bullying in middle school had been my fault. As long as you continued to be resentful towards him I felt satisfied, but then you kept on letting him get closer and closer to you again. No matter how angry you are with him you still are weak to him in a way I’ve never seen you be towards me. It felt like you were slipping away from me and starting to make your way back towards him. I didn’t want that. All I wanted was for you to keep looking at me and stay by my side. I knew that girl, Emma, liked me so I asked her and her friends to do me a favor. I told them you were my girlfriend but that Silas stole you from me. I wanted them to just separate you two. They misunderstood and I really didn’t know how out of control it had become until you started getting hurt. That night when we were at Murphey’s I was going to end things but you overheard.”
The more Silas talks, the more my head pounds. I try to move my hands away form his face again but his fingers are wrapped tightly around my wrists getting them in place still. I take a step back but Levi steps forward in rhythm with me.
At first when he started speaking I did feel a little sad for him but by now I can tell something really is off about everything he's saying right now.
Something is really, really wrong with Levi.
His tone and expression are full of desperation as he says, “I know I messed up real bad, Rin. I was wrong. I know I hurt you but I swear on everything that I truly never meant it. I know I don’t deserve to say this, but I love you.”
His words make me feel sick to my stomach as he grins while saying, “Everything I did was because I love you.”
It hits me all at once.
I love him.
I've always loved him.
Maybe not in a romantic way. Maybe not the same twisted way he feels towards me nor is it the same way I feel about Silas, but I still loved Levi nonetheless.
He’s been such an important part of my life for so long now that it’s terrifying to see that the person I cared about so much wasn’t actually who I thought they were. That’s what makes this hurt even more.
I’m starting to question if I even knew the real him even after all this time.
"Let go of me." My voice is small and weak but then I say it again even louder and as much force I can mange despite how terrified I feel right now.
"LET GO OF ME. LET GO RIGHT NOW OR ELSE I WILL SCREAM AND WAKE THE WHOLE FREAKING NEIGHBORHOOD."