Hi, sorry this has taken so long to update. I got caught up in exams and then the ending didn't feel quite right but this is it. The end. Hope you've enjoyed the story and thanks for sticking with me. let me know what you think.
"Shan phone," I looked up from where I was lounged over the bed
"Shan phone," I looked up from where I was lounged over the bed. Trying to ignore the shrieks, there was only so much I could stand and I was already way past my quota. I could hear the music blaring. You'd think since the place was massive, there would be no reason for me to listen to stupid love songs but they played, constantly. Incessantly till I was sure I'd kill myself.
"Tell them I'll phone them back," I yelled. And I would, when I remembered it eventually. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I'd already had my fill of people at school.
"It's some guy, beginning with M," I ran for the stairs half tumbling down.
"Wait," I screamed ignoring my cousins bewildered look as I barrelled for the phone. Mike, what if it was Mike? It was stupid, it had been three months since I'd moved and he hadn't phoned. Hadn't returned my calls. All I knew about Mike was the rumours, that he'd broken up with Lise, was happily screwing everything with tits while she waited. Then he'd got back with Lise. I hated the hurt that came every time I thought of it. Wasn't time supposed to help? Wasn't I supposed to have forgotten him? Surely the pain should have eased at least.
"Okay," my cousin said handing me the phone,.
"Mike?" I asked.
"Sorry Shan," Matt said
"Matt," I said finally, swallowing my disappointment.
"What's with the secret number?"
"It's hardly secret."
I had to convince your aunt to give it to me. When most people move, they text their friends the number."
"Yes that would be why you don't have it."
"You need to come home."
"Yes I'm sure because everyone is devastated. That's why no ones bothered phoning for the last week.
"Mike's in trouble."
I felt my breath catch as I tightened my grip on the phone. "What kind of trouble."
"His mum and her boyfriend are dead."
"Oh shit," I thought of what he'd told me and sagged to the floor. "How is he? What's happening." did everyone else know how much he'd hated him
"You need to come home."
"Matt, what …they don't think…they can't think"
"I don't know. Mike doesn't exactly tell me his deep dark secrets. Just come home. He needs you" The phone went dead in my ear and then the buzzing started as I slowly carefully put down the phone. I had to pack.
I watched as Mike turned stalking down the aisle, the mutters getting louder. I glanced around. I was sitting in the back row, I wasn't even sure if I should be here. Wasn't it wrong to attend a funeral when you didn't know the people who had died and didn't much care about them? I looked forward waiting for Lise to go after him or Darren, someone. No one moved. They just stared at him.
I felt an elbow slip into my side as a woman shifted to mutter to her neighbour about that ungrateful boy and I could feel my mouth tighten. I looked up, Matt had turned to stare at me but I knew what he wanted. The doors slammed in Mike's wake and I glanced behind staring at them. It had been three months and he hadn't even told me about this. Maybe he didn't want me. He was with Lise surely she should be the one going to him or Darren. He'd invited Darren. I looked up, searching for someone anyone who was making a move to go after him. His mum had just died, surly someone was going to go after him but the priest was starting again and the mutters were dying. It was as if everyone was going to ignore him.
I stood, walking fast to the door. At least I didn't have far to walk and the thing about back rows was no one really noticed. I took a gulp of air, staring around. Where the hell was he, I started running down the stairs.
"Excuse me," I turned at the voice, to be more exact I was turned by the hand on my elbow. "Is this …. funeral?"
"In there," I gestured behind me. He nodded but stayed looking at me. "I'm sorry I need to find someone." I started walking then turned back suddenly. "Have you seen a blond man?"
"I saw a figure going in that direction." he pointed to the graveyard and I took off at a run, kicking off my shoes and carrying them.
I glanced around the stones. I hated graveyards. You'd imagine I'd be used to them, after all most of my family was buried in one of them but I hated them. I slowed down as I saw a figure, crouched down.
"Mike," I said softly. Coming up beside him and then I hesitated. What was I supposed to say, I'm sorry. I understand. It's okay. It was bullshit all of it. Instead I grabbed his hand, sliding my fingers through his.
Slowly he turned the eyes blank. "What are you doing here? Darren promised he wouldn't tell." how self obsessed was it to be hurt but if his grip hadn't been so tight I would have jerked away. I swallowed the lump in my throat.
"He didn't tell me,"
"You shouldn't be here. You were right what you said that night. I …" he jerked suddenly staring at me. "You've got exams?" there was almost an accusation in his voice
"It doesn't matter. They don't matter. How are you doing?"
"I won't ruin your life. I won't. Now go!"
"No. I'm not leaving you. We're friends. How can you think that? How could you think I wouldn't come?"
"Then she was right. I'll destroy your life too."
"You didn't destroy it Mike. You never destroyed my life. You won't" I said simply. "You can't. Don't you get that yet? I can live without you, I proved that to myself. I can do it but I don't want to. I'm in love with you and that hasn't changed"
He stared at me as if I were stupid, jerking his hand away. He stood. "I'm not nice, Shaz. I'm not the guy you keep on imagining. That isn't me."
"We can talk about this later. I'm just here as a friend"
"No, you look at me and I start to think, I start to hope I can be the guy you see. But I'm not, I can't be that guy. There dead shaz, someone shot them and all I can think is that I'm glad."
I jerked back. "Mike," it was a whisper. How could anyone ever think that?
"No, this is who I am. And you keep on trying to make me into someone else and I try, but I'm not. I can't be that person"
"Did you…" I trailed off but we both knew what I was asking. The same question everyone else was wondering. He stared at the hewn rock. His back to me
"Does it matter?" he demanded. I stared out thinking of my parents and thinking of the nights Mike had stayed round ours. The way no one had seemed to notice or care. I thought of the guy who had told me about his life and the vague stories and mostly I thought of the guy who had protected me because of Darren. Who had stood up for me and had held me. Who had got into a bar fight because of me. Did it matter if he had done it? If he had killed them, did it change anything?
I stepped forward till I was next to him and I could feel the heat from him but he didn't turn. "No, it doesn't matter." he spun, staring at me wide eyed as if I'd suddenly become someone else. Then he turned back, without looking at me, he grabbed my hand.
"I didn't do it but I wish I had. I used to dream about it. I wanted them dead Shaz."
"It doesn't matter,"
"I'm not a nice guy. You can do better, you deserve better. I'll just hurt you. You shouldn't have come," he said but his grip on my hand tightened till it hurt.
"Yes I should have. I love you." I hesitated. "You said I don't see you, you're wrong. I see you, I see the guy who annoyed me and irritated me, who hurt me so many times. I see the arsehole who got me sent away, who didn't bother phoning or writing and who moved on with his life the second I was gone. I see you not someone else. And no matter how much I hate you, I still love you."
"She said you'd moved on, that you were happy and had a boyfriend. That I'd only destroy the life you made. That the best thing I could do was leave you. That I didn't have the right to make you throw your life away for me, because of me. I don't want that, I don't want to destroy your life and I'm good at that. At destroying things."
"You won't destroy my life. I won't let you." he stared at me unconvinced but there was something resigned in his face. "And I won't let you push me away. I'm tired of that, of seeing you with everyone but me. This will work, we can make it work." he stared at me, almost hopelessly. Like a kid who'd been told Santa Claus didn't exist but was still desperately hoping.
"I shouldn't believe. I know you're wrong but I want to. I really want to." there was something young in his face, like a kid who'd learnt that hope never worked out and was resigned to it.
"Then do. What have you got to lose?"
"Your friendship, your trust. The best part of me. I have to let you go, I know that. If I don't one day you'll look at me and despise me."
"But what if I don't? You keep on trying to protect me from you. I don't need that anymore, I don't want it." I came close to sobbing as he stared at me unconvinced.
"I was dating the captain of the football team," even without looking I could feel his jerk. "I was getting A's and I was popular," I turned to look at him, "and I was totally and absolutely miserable. I'm coming home, Mike. Whether we get together or not. This is where I belong; it's where I want to be. But I want to be here with you. Maybe you're right maybe it will all go hideously wrong but what if it doesn't. Isn't it worth a try." he stared at me doubtfully.
"If it goes wrong we'll deal with it then. The same way we've dealt with everything else only this time we're together. I want now and for the first time I don't want to worry about tomorrow. I just want today."
"I love you," he said finally, the words came out on a rush and I felt something giddy rise and laughter broke free. It had been so long. I'd wanted the words for so long and now, now there were mine. He looked down and then grinned and then laughed, spinning me round as we repeated the words. His mouth soft on mine as my fingers wound their way into his hair, pulling him down. This was it, love and happiness and a giddy feeling as if I could take on the world.
Finally we sat down and I sagged against him, both just staring out at the stones.
"what do we do now?" he said tugging me closer. Till my head rested against his shoulder and one hand clutched mine, the other rested around my shoulder.
I glanced up. "I don't know. I guess eventually we go home and make a start on happily ever now."
"I don't want to wait. I've already waited too long"
"There not going to approve. No one is, not your aunt even Darren won't. He isn't talking to me, he hasn't forgiven me for loving you."
"I don't care. I approve." I hesitated, suddenly unsure. "But you and Lise," I backed away.
"We're not together. I didn't want to be with here, I only wanted to be with you. We broke up over two month's ago." he looked at me for a second. "There's no one else." I moved closer and we sat in silence. Finally he spoke, "you don't have to move back. Judy's place is probably a lot nicer."
"Yes but it isn't home." a slow drizzle started as we sat there. Finally we stood and hands clutching walked back. The funeral part was over and the people stood outside, glaring at us as we approached. Hair drenched and clothes soggy, beaming.
"I need to say goodbye. Will you come with me," Mike asked quietly. I nodded ignoring Darren's look and smiling faintly as Matt nodded. Mike led me through the crowd ignoring the gawking people. The priest turned as we entered and then nodded, going back to whatever he was doing.
Ignoring him Mike walked forward until we stared at two faces in two coffins. He looked down at the man – Jake something.
"For nine years you made me think I was worthless. You made me into nothing and I let you." I closed my eyes in pain, taking a tighter grip of his hand as each word slashed at me. I turned at a sound and saw a man clutch the chair. The man in the suit, who had asked about the funeral, he was staring at Mike as if he were in pain. At each word he winced.
"Fuck you, I'm going to prove you wrong. I can be better. Rot in hell you bastard." he spat and I winced, waiting for a comment. For lightening to strike after all wasn't there some rule about showing respect for the dead no matter how much of a bastard there were. We were in a church for gods sake.
He turned to his mum and stared blinking back tears and I spun, stalking towards the man.
"This is private, and you have no right to be here. Can't you see he's saying goodbye." for the first time the man looked down and stared at me.
"He was hurt?" it was more of a plea as if somehow I'd say he'd misheard.
"This has nothing to do with you" he closed his eyes almost swaying and I grabbed hold of his arm. "Are you okay?"
"I…he was hurt," he said quietly. He swallowed, staring past me at Mike. Then he looked down at me, "you went after him earlier, you care about him? You're friends?" I nodded slowly and he sighed.
"Will you give him this, when he's ready? Tell him…tell him I didn't know. I didn't imagine." he looked past me again. "Tell him I'm sorry. He's lucky that he has someone."
"Its not luck," I said fiercely. He looked past me as Mike's head dropped.
"No, I guess its not," his head dropped. "The police will stop bothering him, that's the least I can do." He walked out. There was something familiar about the walk.
"Wait who are you?" I called but he just shook his head. I glanced down, slowly unclenching my hand. There was an envelope with mikes named sprawled across it and a cheque for ten grand. I looked back at the doors and then at Mike. Slowly I walked over and he turned, his head resting on my shoulder as I wrapped my arms around him, and he sobbed.
Finally he looked up, wiping his eyes. I hesitated suddenly unsure before handing over the cheque and envelope. "Here, a man asked me to give this to you. To tell you he's sorry," his eyes widened as he stared at the cheque.
"He didn't give me his name. He seemed sad, he reminded me of someone…" Mike looked up and I suddenly realised. "Its you! He reminds me of you. Maybe he's a family member. That would be why he said sorry, he didn't know. We can probably still find him." I made a move and Mike tugged me back.
"No," he looked at the cheque and then the envelope and then closing his eyes. He threw the cheque away.
"Mike," I asked, reaching for it.
"Leave it." I glanced at him, letting my hands drop. "I don't want guilt money. I want a new life Shaz, I want a new start and I don't want anyone else to have anything to do with it. To do with us."
"They won't," I vowed. He smiled,
"It's my mum's funeral and I feel happier than I have in years. What kind of person does that make me?"
"The kind I'm in love with,"
Darren stared at us as we left the church and then after a pause came closer, I saw Mike stiffen. Felt his arm tighten around me.
"You're together," Darren said after a long pause as he looked between the two of us. Mike nodded face stiff. "Have you thought about this. I mean I love you both but…"
"Say you're happy for us?" I said. Darren looked at me, as if I'd done something incomprehensible. Then he smiled, slowly.
"I guess I can live with it as long as the two of you don't grope in front of me and stuff." I felt Mike relax and then Darren grinned, an unholy grin. "And I can't wait to see Judy's face when she finds out." he laughed, whacking Mike in a guy way.
"We can do this," Mike said in disbelief slowly staring around the crowded room.
"We're going to do this," I said and more important we were going to make it work.
I guess that's the end. That's the part you're waiting for - right. Happily ever after. Only I don't know if it is and I hate lying. Mike's, Mike – annoying, infuriating and brilliant. He's practically living with us now. Izzy's more watchful – no more waking up to find Mike in my room. He still sneaks in though.
The case was dropped, it was ruled a murder suicide. I don't know if anyone believes it. I know Mike doesn't – but he won't talk about it. For a few weeks there were the mutters, the guarded looks. Most of the people made their own conclusions about who was guilty and they didn't believe the ruling anymore than Mike. But things fade and memories are pretty short around here. All anyone can talk about now is the boy who died in a jumping.
My exams are over, despite everything I did well. For the next six weeks I don't have to think about anything. Mike said he knew I would, even Judy said "I didn't do bad." For me it's over. Life's normal or as normal as it gets.
But I can't help thinking back to the funeral, to the man who said he'd take care of the police. I thought I saw him the other day but he was gone. I went back for the letter. I wanted it safe in case – just in case. I guess I get regrets. Mike's less forgiving. He says he doesn't care who the man is, as far as he's concerned his family can go rot as long as it's away from him.
I told Mike about the letter, he told me to "keep it, bin it. Throw it in the middle of the bloody sea if that's what you want. As long as I don't have to bother with it."
I'm staring at it now – wondering. Who was he and what does he have to do with Mike? Somehow I don't think he's going to disappear as easily as he appeared. I have the answers but the envelope stays sealed. I don't know if I want to know.
Life's good. There's a lazy summer ahead of us. Me and Matt still get on well, and him and Mike still drive each other mad. We're going out later the four of us. Mike says he's already picked out the car – for old time's sake. He's trying to reform – his probation officer is thrilled. But Mike's still Mike and if you've got this far you can probably figure out as well as me Mike's chances of success.