ANs: If you want to know the proper story behind this fic, check my profile :)
MINTIEE'S WARNING: Ooo you got your own warning, snazzy, no? ;) This chapter does contain some major spoilers for the end of the book, probably the saddest bit too. But oh well XD
I barely hear her over the blare of the TV, but when I turn to look at her, I instantly switch it off at the sight of her face. To anyone else it would be hard to catch the expression, but I can tell that, though apparently blank, her face is full of tension and what's going on in her head is the real danger. The only give away that anybody else would get are her clenched fists and the fact that she is breathing very slow, very controlled breaths.
I try to answer, but the strength to do so has evaporated from me in an instant. My insides are twisting, as if they are trying to run away on their own, knowing what's to come.
She blinks, waiting for me to say something.
Okay, try playing it cool. Pretend you have no idea what's going on. Or that you think there's nothing wrong. It is hard to tell when she's angry after all… But she does expect me, of all people, to be able to read her. I've never seen her this angry, though. Shit.
Nothing wrong, nothing wrong.
"…What's up?" Bit shaky, but that will do. Acting cool. Nothing's wrong.
It takes her a moment to act as if she's registered what I've said, in which the air is thick to breathe and I want nothing more than to run. Then she moves and I'm trapped. In one simple movement of her arm, one throw of one, tiny, object towards me, I'm caught. And everything is ruined. Check Mate.
I stare down at the tiny clear bag as it skids across the coffee table. Landing directly in front of me. For the first time in a year, I do not want the fine powder inside.
"Why?" It's still a whisper but her voice is shaking now. I can't bring myself to look up at her.
"Why, Eric?" Her voice is louder as she repeats. My heart is beating at twice the speed as I struggle to find an answer, any answer.
"I…" This is the most silent argument we've ever had, and yet the most serious. And I already know it's over. I've lost.
I've lost the argument. I've lost us.
"I don't know where…" Nothing's wrong?
"Lies," she hisses. "Again." Her voice grows in volume, but still shakes with fury as she speaks. "That's all you have gained from this, the ability to lie. To trick. To make me believe I was important enough in your life to work for." She takes a breath and, out of the corner of my eyes, I can see her send a shooting glance to the packet on the table. "To make me think there are things in your life more important than cocaine."
My insides cringe as she spits out the last word. It's so much easier to accept when you aren't thinking about what you are doing. When you aren't thinking about what you have really given your life to.
"You are important-" I begin.
"Oh, really?" She cuts in before I can say any more. "I've misjudged you, Have I? Well do forgive me for that, because I seem to just read the situation wrongly." Her voice is a hiss that is drowned by furious, biting sarcasm. "Obviously the right form of thanks for giving up my life for you is to get treated like a piece of shit. Why shouldn't I get lied to? Again. And again." She pauses, waiting for a reply a final time, but I seem to have lost the ability to speak completely.
"Well," She stabs into the silence without even raising her voice. "If that's the case, if I am that important, I guess you wouldn't mind I did this." I snap my head up to see her stride over and snatch the bag off the table. Terrified, I jump up from the sofa and try to beat her in a sick race to the bathroom. She noticed me trying to overtake her and runs. Now it's not a question if I want it or not, but rather that I need what is in that bag. She can't take it away from me.
I try to snatch it away from her hand, but she pulls her arm up sharply with a flinch as my nails catch her skin in the process. I try again.
She wins the race, but instead of slamming the door in my face, she leaves it wide open. Her intention is to let me see her do this, to add impact. But I fight back.
She opens the bag quickly and I make another snatch, she pulls away as I accidentally scratch her again. I grab hold of her and she tries to throw me off in a furious wrestle, before it's all tipped out. I watch the powder float in the water for a second before she flushes it.
I let go of her immediately.
"You bitch." It's a simple insult, so overused by teenagers, adults, but from the passion behind what I'm saying I can see it cuts right through her. There is a second where fear and regret pass over her face, but then it's gone, and she is angry.
"You. Promised." Her voice is shaking as she speaks slowly. "You promised me this was over. You promised me you would stop. Stop the drugs, the fights, the late nights, the lies." She looks down at the toilet for a second, the small bag lying on the floor next to it, and when she looks up again I see her eyes are stained red and glistening with angry tears. "For the past six months I believed you." She continues, closing her eyes for a second to regain composure, before opening them and saying strongly. "I was foolish enough to fall in love with you again."
"Don't talk shit, Jenny. I did stop. For you. And you know it. For six months I go through so much. For you." My fists are clenched so hard my nails dig into my skin. The sad eyes don't work on me this time. I need what she had just gotten rid of, out of bitterness. Can't she understand that? "I have one moment of weakness." I try to rationally explain. "You don't understand what it is like to feel as if you cannot go on, to feel worthless and alone. I have had that for six months with no escape. I needed that."
"Alone?" Yes, you heard me, Jenny. "You've felt alone?" Her voice grows stronger as anger flashes into her eyes. The redness has changed from a colour of pain to a colour of fury. I resist taking a step back in weakness. "After everything I've done for you, everything I given up for you, all the support I have given you." She takes a deep breath in, her jaws clenched as if trying to hold her tongue. I let the silence fall for a moment, but then I open my mouth, ready to say something in return, before she raises her hand to my face. "You say you are alone." She speaks softly, placing her warm palm gently on my stubbled cheek. "You ungrateful bastard." She pulls her arm away sharply, hated glazed on every word.
"I'm an 'ungrateful bastard'?" I shout, but she doesn't blink as my voice slaps her face. "So what have these past months been, when I have put up with all those these stabbing thoughts for you? This is how I get thanks?"
"What? I've appreciated these months to no end, because I thought I finally have Eric back." Her eyes begin to glisten again as they search my face in one last moment of desperation. "But if that's how you have been feeling all this time then I have just been a fool to yet another lie. You've managed to trick even me, the one who knows you best in the world, congratulations. Your prize can be an empty flat for tonight." She turns to walk away but I grab her arm and pull her back.
"You have no idea what I was going through. You've always been happy. Too happy to even try to understand."
She stops dead in her struggles to be set free. "I've always been happy." She repeats in a whisper. "I haven't just spent a year watching my best friend, the man I have known and loved my whole life, the only one I could ever rely on to always be there, slip away from everything and change so much." So this is what you were trying to hold back on saying before, you're finally getting it out, well done. "I haven't spent all day praying you would be there when I come home, only to end up staying up all night trying to call you and find out if you're safe. Or still alive." Go on then, I do love listening to all of this, really I do. "I haven't had to be crushed by the painful question of why you find the only way to get out of your depression is to snort chemicals up your nose. I haven't-"
I throw her arm off and walk away before I can even hear anymore. Fuck this blame, just more things I have done wrong. I cannot simply stand there and listen to more reasons I am not fit to be here. I have enough of my own.
"Don't you dare walk away from me mid sentence." She has finally raised her voice and it echoes loudly off the sparkling bathroom walls.
"What, so you can just carry on telling me how much of a useless tosser I am?" I shout back, still walking.
"You know what, Eric? You need to stop acting like a victim in attack, actually get your head out of your self centred arse, and think of someone else for a change. For once in your life."
She doesn't shout it, but it makes me stop right in my tracks. How dare she.
In one movement I twist around and run towards her. There is a second where fear and regret pass over her face, but then it's gone as the punch throws her backwards. Her legs hit the side of the bath and she falls, hands over her eye, and her head hits the back wall.
Fear suddenly shoots through me and my insides freeze as I stare down at her unconscious form, sprawled in the bath. In one simple movement of my arm, one throw of one, strong, fist, my anger catches me. And everything is ruined. Check mate.
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